Can Flooring Affect Your Health?

When designing the interiors of a space, one of the key aspects for consideration is flooring. It is one of the only interior design features that runs throughout the entire space, sets the overall look and feel of the environment and can simply not go unnoticed.

Aesthetically, flooring sets the feel of a space. What is often forgotten is that this ‘feel’ is more than atmospheric. Out of all the interior design facets, flooring is the most tactile and therefore brings with it various other features, which include both positive and negative elements.

Due to the high level of involvement that people have with flooring in a space, it can cause an incredibly strong reaction, both mentally and physically, going so far as to affect mood and even health.

The effects of flooring varies given its materials, as is shown below:

Polished Concrete 

This flooring material is currently trending after making the move to residential and commercial spaces from the industrial sector due to a number of reasons. These include the sustainability factor, as polished concrete needs little energy-fuelled maintenance and uses little in the pouring and polishing processes. It is also highly hypoallergenic and is therefore actually good for an individual’s health. It can create a feeling of urban chicness and is generally low cost but can also be cold and create a sterile environment if not finished correctly.

Carpet

carpet flooring

Carpet is the 21st century go-to interior flooring. It is highly popular due to the varying materials, patterns and styles that it offers which includes twist pile, pattern cut pile, pattern twist pile, pattern cut and loop, textured loop pile, textured cut and loop and Sisal. Carpet’s popularity rests upon its comfortability.  It creates underfoot softness like no other flooring material and offers insulation and warmth, in turn creating an inviting, quiet and relaxing environment, which is why it is so very popular in living and sleeping spaces.

However, due to its fibrous nature, carpet can be incredibly harmful to allergy suffers, tends to trap dust, mites and germs and is simply not as sustainable as other flooring options due to its associated energy guzzling cleaning processes.

Wooden Floor Boards (Including Floating Floorboards)

wood flooring

Wooden flooring, like carpet, comes in various forms and wood types. Common wooden flooring types are both structural timber flooring, where the timber is laid directly onto a building’s joists and bearers, and floating floorboards, where the boards made of either timber or laminate, are laid over existing flooring or a concrete slab.

Wooden flooring’s greatest strength is its versatility. While all of the different wooden forms have strong durability, offer a distinct sense of chicness and are low maintenance, an oak floor has a completely different aesthetic from timber, even though both offer the same features. Wooden flooring is marked as one of the ‘healthiest’ flooring systems, as all forms are hypoallergenic while creating a warm and un-institutional space.

Natural Stone

natural stone flooring

Natural stone is an incredible addition to any home due to its association with elegance and luxury. It is highly durable, stain resistant, comes in a number of different sustainable forms and is also hypoallergenic. In fact, natural stone has a relaxing effect on those who come in contact with it.

However, relaxation and low allergy effects may be the only positive health aspects. Natural stone is obviously, hard and can take its toll on legs and feet of those who implement it around their every day spaces. It is also costly, which may or may not effect the mental health of those using it in their interior projects.

Tiles

Tiles are another industry standard, especially in wet areas. They are both heat and water resistant, come in numerous varieties, shades and colours and can visually enhance a space. Tiles are easy to clean, therefore making them less likely to cause allergies, but the harsh chemicals that are often used to create and clean tiles (which are especially needed if the flooring is used, as it often is, in high traffic areas) can be highly detrimental to an individual’s health.

Linoleum

linoleum flooring

The last most common flooring material is linoleum. Although it can sometimes come with the industry stigma as being ‘fake’ or ‘second best’, lino can actually offer durability (up to 40 years of wear) and is fire and water resistant. Surprisingly, it is also one of the healthiest flooring options, as many variations have antibacterial agents present within, but without air polluting chemicals that are present in so many other flooring materials.

Also, those who choose linoleum will continue to be perfectly sound of mind, as it is often easy to lay and even easier on the hip pocket.

While many will choose flooring simply based on the  aesthetic, taking a little more time to look at the ‘pathology’ of flooring, healthier, long lasting choices can be made, without the risk of nasty surprises down the track.

By Jane Parkins
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