11 Best Floors for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers: With Tips & Advice


A lot of people nowadays suffer from allergies which also usually triggers asthma attacks as well. This can be caused by dust or dirt in the air, mold and mildew, pollen, pet dander, and other small debris in our environment. Some materials in our homes could emit chemical fumes and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air which can also trigger allergies or asthma attacks.

The floor can act as a catch basin for all debris and particles that float in your house. It is where most of the allergy and asthma causes would settle and eventually get redistributed around the house. So it is just right of you to look for the right kind of flooring that can help you control these causes and mitigate allergy and asthma attacks.

Before you even start looking for a floor though, you should first know what to look for in a floor. You should be able to answer the question – what qualities and characteristics do the floor need to have in order for it to help control the causes of allergy and asthma attacks?

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What To Look for in a Floor for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers

1. The Floor Should have a Smooth and Solid Surface

If you don’t know already, one of the worst floorings for allergy and asthma sufferers is a carpet or rug. This is because the carpet fibers and piles can attract and harbor all the possible causes of allergy and asthma. And when the fibers get disturbed like when you walk on it, it can float and redistribute itself through the air.

By having a smooth solid surface floor, dirt, dust, and other causes of allergy and asthma attacks have no place to cling themselves onto, and no place to hide to get redistributed again in the future. This also goes without saying that textured floors, with lots of nooks and crevices, should also be avoided.

2. The Floor Should be Very Easy to Clean

This criterion goes hand in hand with criteria no. 1. If the floor has a smooth and solid surface, you can easily clean off dirt, dust, pet dander, and other of those allergy and asthma causes.

Again, avoid using carpets. There are some carpets that are made to be hypo-allergenic, but the ease of cleaning it is questionable. Even if you vacuum it regularly, you might not be able to completely remove all allergens from it.

3. The Floor Should have a Very Low VOC Content

Most natural flooring products such as solid hardwood, linoleum, and cork flooring have the least amount of VOC, usually none at all. If, however, you plan on going synthetic such as vinyl, or laminate flooring, you should check its material safety data sheet (MSDS). Make sure it has a very low VOC content or any chemical that can trigger allergies or asthma attacks.

There are also third-party certifications you could look out for such as the FloorScore and GreenGuard Gold certifications. Floor products that have these certifications have passed their indoor air quality check. These floors are basically good to use for people suffering from allergies and asthma.

One chemical to watch out for is formaldehyde. Some manufacturers use this as a binder for their processed flooring products, which is known to trigger asthma attacks.

Another thing to watch out for is the adhesives that will be used to install the floors. Although the flooring material is safe, the adhesives might contain high amounts of VOC that can still trigger your allergies or asthma.

These 3 factors and criterion should be on top of your considerations when you look for a floor for allergy and asthma sufferers. Other criterion such as the design and aesthetics, the size, durability, and other factors, although still important, should always come next.

11 Best Floors for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers

Below are 11 of the best floors for allergy and asthma sufferers that have all 3 factors, mentioned above, present in them. All of them offer products that have solid and smooth surfaces, very easy to clean and maintain, and have very low to zero VOC content.

Not all floor products are made the same though, so you should still check their MSDS or any certifications that certify that they pass the indoor air quality check.

1. Solid Hardwood Floors

Why Choose This Floor?

  • Can last up to 100 years.
  • Very durable.
  • Can be sanded and refinished multiple times to restore its beauty.
  • Cozy to walk on.
  • Natural product with very little VOC content.

What to Watch Out For?

  • Can develop gaps in between boards where allergens could settle into.
  • Some floor products are coated with lacquers high in VOC content.
  • Adhesives used for installation may contain high amounts of VOC content.
  • Susceptible to water damage.

Solid hardwood floors are one of the healthiest flooring options you could use for allergy or asthma sufferers. It’s all-natural which means it has very low VOC content. When installed, it does not harbor any dirt, dust, or any allergens that can trigger allergies or asthma attacks.

It is one of the most durable natural flooring options that could last up to 100 years if well taken care of. You could even sand and refinish it multiple times to remove the accumulation of scratches and bring it back to its natural beauty. It is also very cozy to walk on barefooted.

Generally, solid hardwood floors have very low VOC content, but it is still best to always check its material safety data sheet (MSDS) to check if this is really the case. Some products may be precoated with lacquers high with VOC content. Also, ask for any third-party certification, like FloorScore or GreenGuard, as proof that the floor passed the indoor air quality check.

Solid hardwood floors can be installed several ways. If, however you plan to use adhesives, just make sure that the adhesive you’ll be using has a low VOC content.

Although solid hardwood is water-resistant to some degree, allowing water puddles or spills to stand for a very long time could potentially damage the floor.

High changes in moisture and humidity in the air could also make the hardwood expand or contract, which can lead to buckling, warping, and even developing gaps in between the boards. The gaps that have developed can then be an area where allergens can get into.

Solid hardwood floors can be a good floor for people suffering from allergy and asthma, but make sure to check all the specifications of the product before you buy and keep it well maintained so that it could last a long time.

2. Engineered Hardwood Floors

Why Choose This Floor?

  • Can last 20 to 30 years.
  • Cozy to walk on.
  • More stable dimensionally than solid hardwood floors; It will not develop gaps as easily as solid hardwood floors.
  • Have option to install as a floating floor, eliminating the needs for adhesives.

What to Watch Out For?

  • Some floor products are coated with lacquers high in VOC content.
  • Some floor products may contain added formaldehyde.
  • Adhesives used for installation may contain high amounts of VOC content.
  • Susceptible to water damage.
  • Can only be sanded and refinished a few times.

Engineered hardwood floors have most of the benefits of solid hardwood floors. The look and feel are exactly the same when they are installed and you wouldn’t even know the difference between it and solid hardwood floors.

It is made with a plywood core making it more dimensionally stable than solid hardwood floors. It will not create gaps as easily especially when subjected to high moisture and humidity changes.

It still is susceptible to water damage like solid hardwood floors, so make sure to wipe any water spills dry as soon as they happen.

The top is a thin veneer of solid hardwood, which can only be sanded and refinished just a few times, so take care not to accumulate a lot of scratches. It is recommended also to choose a hard species of wood that could resist scratches better.

Similar to solid hardwood floors, check its MSDS and look for any reliable certifications. Just like solid hardwood, some products are coated with high VOC content lacquer-based coating. Some manufacturers also use formaldehyde which can trigger asthma attacks. Look for another product or floor option if you see any of this in its MSDS.

Make sure the adhesive used for installation has a very low VOC. There’s an option for a floating floor system though you can go for that could eliminate the use of adhesives making it safer for allergy or asthma sufferers.

3. Engineered Bamboo Floors

Why Choose This Floor?

  • Tougher and harder than solid hardwood floors.
  • Cozy to walk on.
  • More stable dimensionally than solid hardwood floors; It will not develop gaps as easily as solid hardwood floors.
  • Can last 50 years.

What to Watch Out For?

  • Some floor products are coated with lacquers high in VOC content.
  • Some floor products may contain added formaldehyde.
  • Adhesives used for installation may contain high amounts of VOC content.

Engineered bamboo floors are very similar to the construction of engineered hardwood floors. The difference is that the top veneer, instead of hardwood, is made from strand woven bamboo. It is rated as harder than most solid hardwood floors.

It can stand up well to water spills, better than solid and engineered hardwood floors. And it can be used in areas exposed to high moisture and humidity.

Just like engineered hardwood floors, check its MSDS for VOC content. Also check the adhesives that will be used, make sure they are low in VOC content. And as much as possible go for the snap-together system which is installed as a floating floor to totally eliminate the need for adhesives.

4. Laminate Flooring

Why Choose This Floor?

  • Cheaper than real wood.
  • Easy to install.
  • Snap-together system for floating floor installation eliminates need for adhesives.
  • High scratch-resistance.
  • High water and stain resistance.

What to Watch Out For?

  • May be slick underfoot.
  • Some floor products may contain high VOC content.

Laminate flooring has a plywood core, similar to both engineered hardwood and engineered bamboo floors, that makes it dimensionally stable in high moisture and high humidity areas. The top layer though is a clear wear layer over an image layer mimicking the look of real wood or stone.

It is a cheaper alternative to real wood floors and is easier to install as well. It is usually installed as a snap-together floating floor, which eliminates the need of any adhesive.

The wear layer is very durable and protects the floor against scratches, water, and stains. Most laminate flooring can be slick underfoot though.

It is a good floor to use for people suffering from allergies or asthma, but just like the other floors, always check its specifications, making sure the product you’re buying has a low VOC content.

5. Cork Flooring

Why Choose This Floor?

  • Natural product; Very low VOC content.
  • Non-slip.
  • Antimicrobial.
  • Soft and quiet to walk on.
  • High water resistant.
  • High stain resistant.
  • Resilient; absorbs impact from dropped objects.

What to Watch Out For?

  • Needs periodic sealing.
  • Sealer may contain high amounts of VOC.
  • Adhesive for installation may contain high amounts of VOC content.
  • Can be scratched or gouged by sharp objects easily.
  • Susceptible to water damage.

Cork flooring is a natural floor product, and just like any other natural products, it is very low to zero VOC content. It is a resilient floor which means it has a little “give” if something heavy drops on it but then bounces back to its original shape.

It is soft and quiet to walk on. It is also non-slip. It is a good flooring to use for all common areas of your house like you living room, dining room, and kitchens.

Because it’s a bit soft, it can get scratched and gouged easily by sharp objects, such as your furniture legs or abrasive footwears.

Cork flooring is naturally antimicrobial, and will not allow the growth of molds and mildews, which is why it is one of the best floors to use for allergic and asthmatic persons.

You do need to seal cork flooring, and to reseal it periodically, to protect it against water and stains. So you would need to check on the sealers, make sure to use those with low VOC content. The same goes to the adhesives you’ll be using to install cork flooring, make sure that they too have a low VOC content.

Just like other natural floors, it too is susceptible to water damage. If it gets soaked in water, it can swell and get damaged. Although it has some water resistance, it is a good practice to always keep the floor dry.

6. Linoleum Flooring

Why Choose This Floor?

  • Natural product; Very low VOC content.
  • Non-slip.
  • Antimicrobial.
  • Water resistant.
  • Stain resistant.
  • Resilient; absorbs impact from dropped objects.
  • Scratch resistant.

What to Watch Out For?

  • Needs periodic sealing.
  • Sealer may contain high amounts of VOC.
  • Adhesive for installation may contain high amounts of VOC content.
  • Can get dented by heavy and sharp objects.
  • Susceptible to water damage.

Linoleum flooring is another natural resilient flooring similar to cork flooring. It is made from a mixture of different natural products with linseed oil being its base ingredient. It is also antimicrobial, good flooring to use for people with allergies. It is water and stain-resistant, and with high scratch resistance as well.

Just like cork flooring, it too needs periodic sealing so make sure to use sealers with low VOC content. The floor adhesives should also be checked for levels of VOC content.

It is a bit more scratch resistant than cork flooring but it can still get dented by heavy and sharp objects. Water can also damage it just like any other natural flooring product so keeping it dry all the time will help extend its life longer.

7. Vinyl Floors

Why Choose This Floor?

  • Waterproof and stain-proof.
  • High scratch resistance.
  • Very durable.
  • Resilient; absorbs impact from dropped objects.
  • Rigid core, snap-together systems available for floating floor installation to avoid adhesives.
  • Can be installed in wet and humid areas without getting damaged.
  • One of the cheaper floor options.

What to Watch Out For?

  • Some products may emit high amounts of VOC.
  • Adhesive for installation may contain high amounts of VOC content.

Vinyl flooring is a synthetic floor which is made generally of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It can come in several forms which include sheet types, flexible planks, flexible tiles, rigid core planks, rigid core tiles. The tiles and planks types can also be called luxury vinyl flooring, which normally are part of the higher quality line of products.

Sheet vinyl flooring can often be confused with linoleum flooring because they can look the same and are both resilient, but they are worlds apart. If you were to ask me which of the two is healthier, then hands down linoleum floors are better for allergy and asthma sufferers. Since vinyl flooring is fully synthetic, it may emit some levels of VOC. Check out their differences in this other article.

Why would you choose sheet vinyl floors then? Well, they are more scratch-resistant. They are also waterproof and stain proof, which makes them a good floor to use in areas that are exposed to high moisture and humidity such as in bathrooms and basements.

Vinyl floors are one of the cheaper floor options you can go for. Vinyl tiles and planks are easier to install than sheet vinyls. Luxury vinyl flooring with rigid core allows you to install them as a floating floor, eliminating the need for any adhesive.

Although vinyl floors are fully synthetic, high-quality products often have very low VOC content, which is safe for people suffering from allergies and asthma. Most of them will have a FloorScore or GreenGuard certifications. Look for these certifications and go for those products that have them.

8. Ceramic and Porcelain Floors

Why Choose This Floor?

  • Waterproof and stain-proof.
  • High scratch resistance.
  • Very durable.
  • Good option for wet areas such as bathrooms and basements.
  • One of the cheaper floor options.

What to Watch Out For?

  • Cold underfoot.
  • Some glossy surface products can be slippery when wet.
  • Grouting, if not cleaned well, can harbor growth of mold and mildew.

Both ceramic and porcelain flooring is made from a combination of clay minerals and water. Both are available in tiles, and planks and comes in a variety of designs and colors.

Both are durable, very high scratch resistance, waterproof, and stain-proof. They are good floor options to use for wet areas such as in bathrooms and basements.

They are also one of the cheaper floor options you can get and they will last a long time as long as you take care of them. Although they are both hard and durable, dropping a heavy object such as dumbbells or gym weights can break them.

They are one of the easiest flooring options to clean because they can handle large amounts of water without getting damaged. This is very good because an easy floor to clean means you can easily rid off any dust and debris that can trigger any allergy or asthma attacks.

Although both ceramic and porcelain flooring is made from the same base materials, porcelain floors are made more denser and stronger. It is better than ceramic floors in terms of overall performance.

Most ceramic floors have a glossy surface which can make it slippery, especially when it’s wet. Porcelain floors, on the other hand, have options for non-slip surfaces that have good traction even when wet. Porcelain floors are a bit more expensive ceramic but still relatively cheaper than wood floors.

They can be chilly underfoot but you have the option to install underfloor radiant heating to make them a little cozy to walk on barefooted.

Just make sure to clean your ceramic or porcelain floors very well though, because the grouting, if not cleaned well, can allow the growth of molds and mildews, which will be bad for people suffering from allergies and asthma.

9. Natural Stone Flooring

Why Choose This Floor?

  • Natural product that is zero VOC content.
  • High scratch resistance.
  • Very hard and durable.
  • Good option for wet areas such as bathrooms and basements.
  • Can last a lifetime.

What to Watch Out For?

  • Can be pricey.
  • Cold underfoot.
  • Needs to be sealed for stain protection.
  • Sealant may contain high amounts of VOC content.
  • Polished stone may become slippery.

Natural stone slabs or tiles are another natural product. This means that they have zero VOC content. Another safe flooring to use for people with allergies or are suffering from asthma.

Unlike wood though, it will not get damaged by water. It is very durable and can last a lifetime. You can actually use this in very wet areas such as in bathrooms or in basements.

Most natural stones such as marble or granite have very high scratch resistance. It will hold up well in high-traffic areas. It will not wear as easily as wood.

Natural stones are a bit pricey though but the cost is easily justifiable because it pretty much will outlive the life of your house.

You can have these natural stones in a textured or polished finish, but for a floor for allergy and asthma sufferers, the polished option is the better choice. The textured finish may have deep nooks and crevices that may allow dust, and other allergens to settle in. Just be careful though, polished stones may become slippery. Adding some non-slip coating or sealer can address this.

Because natural stones are porous, you do need to seal them to protect it against stains, and from dirt penetrating its surface. Use sealers that have low VOC content.

10. Polished Concrete Floors

Why Choose This Floor?

  • Very high scratch resistance.
  • Very hard and durable.
  • Water and stain proof.
  • Can last a lifetime.
  • Good option for wet areas such as bathrooms and basements.

What to Watch Out For?

  • Cold underfoot.
  • Needs to be sealed for stain protection.
  • Sealant may contain high amounts of VOC content.

Polished concrete floors are best in areas where you need a floor to be very durable, and waterproof at the same time. It is a very versatile flooring which you can use for heavy usages such as garages or home gyms, or wet areas such as bathrooms or basements.

Just like natural stones, polished concrete can also last a lifetime. It is relatively one of the easiest floors to clean since it can handle large amounts of water and cleaning products with harsh chemicals well.

The only thing you need to watch out for is the sealer. Concrete floors need to be sealed for stain and crack protection. Just make sure the sealer used is low in VOC content.

11. Epoxy Floor Coating

Why Choose This Floor?

  • Very high scratch resistance.
  • Very hard and durable.
  • High chemical resistance.
  • Non-slip
  • Water and stain proof.
  • Can last a lifetime.
  • Good option for wet areas such as bathrooms and basements.

What to Watch Out For?

  • Cold underfoot.
  • Some products may contain high amounts of VOC content.

Epoxy floor coating is actually a liquid coating you apply to a solid floor, such as concrete. When it dries, it becomes a hard and durable material, able to withstand the harshest of abuse you can think of.

It is scratch proof. It is waterproof and stain proof. It even stands well against chemicals and acids. This is usually used in industrial types of facilities but it can be used in homes as well.

It is non-slip, even when wet, and so it can work well in areas that are wet such as in bathrooms and basements.

It is a strong flooring that is allergy and asthma friendly that will also last a lifetime.

Angelo

He is an architect for more than 20 years. He is passionate about design and architecture and enjoys sharing his knowledge and information with people as well.

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