Carpets are a haven for allergens such as dust mites – one square metre can contain up to 100,000 – and without a high-powered hoover it can be particularly difficult to get rid of them. Unless you’ve recently purchased one of the last remaining super strong vacuums, you could be disappointed next time you look to upgrade to the latest model. For those with severe allergies, however, sometimes the best solution can be swapping carpets for allergen-free flooring.
There are a few things to bear in mind when searching for this kind of floor. You’ll need something that is resistant to dust mites, mould and mildew, but also free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – potentially harmful chemicals left over from the treatment of many surfaces. Furthermore, even the most clinical of flooring materials can cause irritation if not cleaned thoroughly and regularly, so look for something that’s easy to maintain. These are some of the best alternatives to carpet.
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Solid wood flooring is one of the friendliest options for allergy sufferers, and looks great in most settings. If you’re lucky enough to find floorboards when you rip out your carpet, a process of sanding and varnishing can often restore them to their original condition, though be careful to protect yourself from wood dust. Of course, you can always buy hardwood from a DIY shop and install it yourself, or find a professional to do the job. Remember to put down insulation before you start, and take a look at our handy guide to achieving the perfect finish.
Glazed ceramic tiles
Their water resistance makes them a good choice for humid areas of the home, such as the bathroom and kitchen, while the smooth surface keeps dust mites and other allergens at bay. As a general rule of thumb, harder floors tend to be healthier, and that’s probably why ceramic is the most popular choice for many allergy sufferers. If put in properly, ceramic flooring will remain in a good condition for decades.
It has all the benefits of hardwood in terms of looking great and being easy to clean, but it’s also a lot cheaper and far easier to install. Because it’s made from synthetic material it lasts for years, and doesn’t absorb any germs or other allergens. It also doesn’t expand and contract in the way that hardwood does, meaning moisture is less likely to get in and damage the floor in the future. Check with the supplier that the adhesives used are non-emitting and avoid PVC altogether, which has been suspected of triggering asthma.
One of the newest options on the flooring market, bamboo has the same benefits as hardwood while being far more resistant to water. It’s a good choice for those who want to go green, as bamboo plants take less than five years to reach maturity while trees can take decades. Bamboo flooring might not be cheap, but it should last for over 20 years if maintained well. VOCs are occasionally used in the treatment of the bamboo, so discuss this with your supplier before making your purchase.
Whilst it may not be known for this, linoleum’s antibacterial and anti-static properties will also reduce irritation in your home. It’s as easy to clean as laminate and becomes more durable as it ages, leading to an impressive lifespan of up to 40 years. And while many carpets contain traces of hazardous chemicals such as lead, natural materials like bamboo and linoleum are both non-toxic.