Bare Floors, For Now   5 comments

At the end of the week last week we finally closed on our house. And what was the first order of business? Ripping out the old carpet.

When we started our house hunting we knew that we would be replacing any flooring other than tile or hardwood, so it was one of the things that we considered when deciding how much we would offer on a given house. We didn’t look at houses that were flipped so that we were less likely to be in a situation of ripping out new flooring (that would have been such a waste). The age of the flooring would have little to do with my desire to replace it.

Here are my reasons for removing the existing flooring:

  1. Carpet traps particulate matter and as a result may harbor residual concentrations of heavy metals, pesticides, or other chemicals of concern. Without knowledge of what the previous owners may have tracked into the house, I have no way of knowing what my future baby may be exposed to when crawling around the house.
  2. “Conventional” carpeting offgasses volatile organic compounds (VOCs), many of which are toxic and/or carcinogenic (guess what that new carpet smell is). I don’t really know how long carpet continues to offgass. When I did some internet research a while back for a friend I found somewhere that it takes approximately 10 years for the carpet and carpet pad to finish offgassing; and I found somewhere else that carpet and carpet pad never stop offgassing because by the time the materials of construction have stopped offgassing they have started to break down, which releases more VOCs into the air. I don’t know what the truth is and I don’t care; I prefer to just avoid “conventional” carpet altogether.
  3. Vinyl linoleum is PVC and laminate flooring may contain formaldehyde. (See my Making Scones post about PVC; I should just do a post about PVC so that linking is easier) Both of those compounds have potential indoor air issues due to offgassing. Absolutely got to go. I would like make our house as PVC-free as possible (The windows may well have vinyl frames, and that is the one source of vinyl that I don’t anticipate removing right now since the windows are otherwise good windows.)
  4. Carpet can also provide shelter for unwelcome bugs, like chiggers. I had a friend who had a chigger problem that even repeated bug bombing couldn’t eliminate. I don’t want to bug bomb the house since we will soon start a family, so the carpet has got to go.
  5. Old carpet is just gross.

Our new house, thankfully has tile on approximately 1/3 of the floor area, including the two bathrooms, so that makes our job a little easier. Number 3 above is moot since there is no linoleum or laminate flooring. And number 4 above becomes more important because the house has been vacant (of humans anyway) for two years.

When I first started pulling up the carpet, I was second guessing myself vigorously. The carpet was still in good shape, and so I worried that I was making the wrong decision. But after finding a few stains and dirty spots I regained my conviction. There is now a pile of rolled up carpet and carpet pad segments waiting for transport to the carpet recycler (more on that later). Some of the formerly carpeted rooms are now just showing the concrete slab, and some have this horrible plastic-looking fake parquet flooring that is well glued to the concrete. As much as I would like to remove it, I think that may be pushing the limits of the practically doable.

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Posted July 6, 2010 by mayakey in home

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5 responses to “Bare Floors, For Now

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  1. I want to see pictures. I know you are documenting the whole thing, so share please?

    What are you gonna put in and how does it compare ecologically and financially to “conventional” carpet.

    • We don’t have final decisions yet on what we are installing; that is pending a trip to Green Sacramento this week. When we know I’ll do more posts specific to each type of flooring. Tentatively, we are installing cork in the living room and hallway, carpet in the master bedroom and nursery, tile in the half of the master bath that was carpet, and ?? in the guest room and home office.

  2. Have you thought about refinishing the concrete. I have a friend in Los Lunas who built her dream house and has concrete floors through out. They probably make some low VOC varnishes or what ever is used. It really looked nice but they did have it in the whole house. They also did not paint but had American Clay paster on all their walls. It was very colorful.

    • There are several cracks in the concrete slab, so I think we need to put something over it. Plus, I need some degree of insulation in the floor for winter.

  3. Pingback: Flooring Choice #1: Carpet « Love Knowledge Zeal & Fortitude

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