Flooring Choice #1: Carpet   2 comments

The first decision in the replacing-the-flooring journey was the easy one: wall-to-wall carpeting in the bedrooms. Both my husband and I much prefer the feel of carpet rather than hard flooring under our feet when we get out of bed. We want that area of the house to be soft and padded, with good acoustic dampening, and cozy looking/feeling. An area rug is just not satisfactory in the bedroom. We originally also planned on putting wall-to-wall carpeting in the living room but the floor plan and traffic patterns in this house made us re-think that decision and decide to stick with carpet in the bedrooms only.

We are going to be installing a wool carpet on a natural hemp/cotton backing with rubber adhesive and jute secondary backing made by Earth Weave. I’ve seen plenty of mentions lately about carpet made from recycled plastic as a green choice but had no desire to go that route. The recycled plastic carpet is a wonderful idea from the standpoint of reducing waste to the landfill/incinerator and putting that “waste” material to good use, but those carpets are otherwise pretty much the same as conventional carpet. By that I mean offgassing of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in the backing and the chemical waste from making the carpet. Also, at the end of it’s life the recycled carpet has to go to a landfill or incinerator, whereas our wool carpet is biodegradable.

Wool carpet has some additional benefits that other forms of carpeting don’t have. I have the first on good authorities, but we’ll have to see about the other to over the next few years.

  • Wool is naturally flame retardant. (super bonus for bedrooms!)
  • Apparently wool is easier to keep clean than synthetic carpets because the inherent crimp of the fibers keeps dirt and spills at the surface longer than relatively straight synthetic fibers.
  • Apparently the texture lasts longer in wool than synthetic carpets because the crimp is inherent to the fibers.

Carpet does have cons, but they can be moderated a bit. I mentioned some of the cons in my post about removing the old flooring from the house.

Con #1: Carpet traps particulate matter and contributes to poor indoor air quality.

For this reason carpet is not a good choice for high traffic areas. The more traffic, the more particulate matter gets tracked in, ground into the carpeting, and kicked back up into the air. In this case, the bedrooms are not near any of the entrances to the house and can be considered low traffic. (the living room and hallway are at the front entrance though, that’s why we decided against carpet there) Additionally, we sort-of have a “shoes off at the door” policy in our house that at least reduces how much dirt gets tracked around. In my Human Exposure class in grad school we learned just how dramatically different the air quality is (based on particulate matter) in a house with a shoes-off policy compared to one where shoes are allowed throughout the house. Thirdly, we (meaning my husband) have a standard practice of vacuuming the carpeting every week already, so we should be able to keep our new carpet from getting too dusty/dirty and worsening our indoor air quality.

Con #2: “Conventional” carpet offgasses VOCs, which contribute to poor indoor air quality.

So we are buying a “chemical-free” wool carpet. Conventional carpet uses VOCs in dyes, glues, and stain protection, but we are buying an undyed wool carpet with hemp/cotton and jute backings and rubber adhesive. No VOCs, no problem. We will be using a pure wool carpet pad. Again, no VOCs, no problem. It’s a bit more expensive but we can afford it (barely) so we get to go for the ideal.

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Posted July 16, 2010 by mayakey in environment, home, shopping

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2 responses to “Flooring Choice #1: Carpet

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  1. That’s a lot of good information.

  2. Pingback: Two Years After Installing Flooring « Love Knowledge Zeal & Fortitude

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