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Green Laminate Flooring – Buying Questions

Sample photo of a
room with laminate flooring

Laminate flooring can be a green eco–friendly floor covering; however there are a number of laminate floors that are not essentially environmentally friendly or safe for your health. If you are shopping for safe, eco–friendly laminate tiles or planks, this section will help you find what you are looking for. Use the following questions to determine the eco–friendliness of the flooring you're considering. We've also included questions and answers that can help you sort out the best methods when it comes to caring for and installing your new green–friendly laminate floors.

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Featured Laminate Floor Products

Laminate Flooring Questions to Ask Your Local Floor Store

How is this floor constructed? (HPL or DPL)

There are two types of laminate and they are made differently. The layers of Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL) are compressed in a one–stage process. The layers of High Pressure Laminate (HPL) are treated separately and then fused to the core. HPL is typically more durable and therefore will last longer, but is usually more expensive. Remember, longer lifetimes mean fewer replacements over time; therefore, fewer resources are used, making for greener laminate floors.

What is the Abrasion Class Rating (AC Rating) and expected lifetime of this floor?

The Abrasion Class or AC Rating system is a way to gauge how different types of laminate flooring will stand up to foot traffic, spills, and furniture. In other words, it is a measure by which floor buyers can better decide which laminate floor is best for their needs and lifestyle.

The ratings go from AC1 to AC5 – the higher the number, the more durable the laminate and longer the lifetime. Longer lifetimes mean fewer replacements will be needed, making for greener laminate floors. Products with a rating of AC3 or higher are preferred for most living areas.

Do the binders and resins used in this laminate product contain formaldehyde or other potentially hazardous agents?

While most laminate floors are made with resins or binders in the stabilizing and wear layers that contain some level of formaldehyde or urea–formaldehyde, there are some materials on the market that use innovative greener alternatives which are low in formaldehyde. That said, formaldehyde is naturally occurring in all wood products so it is impossible to avoid altogether in laminate floors which have cores made of wood products.

Laminate floors from manufacturers that do use formaldehyde in their binders and resins often have formaldehyde emission levels that are within the natural expectation for wood products as the formaldehyde is permanently bonded to the resin and has very low emissions.

Does this product include recycled content or content taken from sustainably managed forests?

Laminate is made up of layers made of different materials, so this is a multi–pronged question. For example, some manufacturers use recycled paper for the décor layer of laminate flooring while others have found innovative ways to print directly onto the core. In terms of the wood content of laminate floors, some manufacturers offer materials that contain Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood (from a sustainably managed forest).

Does this product carry any green certifications that are an indication of its eco–friendliness?

Eco–friendly, green laminate floors can carry a variety of certifications from different green organizations. Each organization uses different methods to rate and certify the eco–friendliness of a particular laminate floor or of an entire green home or building, in which laminate is installed. Some of these green laminate certifications are more effective than others.

Common green laminate or green building certifications include the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED Certification, the Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) FloorScore Seal, and the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute's GREENGUARD Certification. For more information visit FindAnyFloor's section on Green Certifications.

Can this be installed using a glueless laminate installation, if not, what type of eco–friendly glues are recommended?

Glueless laminate floors are preferred when choosing an eco–friendly installation. Rather than relying on glue to hold the boards together, which can contain toxic materials and can emit high levels of volatile organic compound (VOCs), the boards lock together glue–free and hold firmly in place. Naturally, in terms of "staying green," the less glues you use in floor installation, the better. From a labor standpoint, these types of laminate flooring are easier to install – and there's less chance of something going wrong. If a glueless installation is not possible, try to choose glues that are deemed low VOC.

Is this laminate flooring made from locally sourced materials and by a local manufacturer?

The further that laminate has to travel to reach your home, the more fuel is used and the greater its carbon footprint becomes. By choosing floors made by local manufacturers that use locally sourced materials, you can significantly reduce your laminate flooring's carbon footprint.

Can you recommend eco–friendly cleaning products to clean my floors with?

There is no sense in going out of your way to purchase an eco–friendly laminate floor and then applying toxic chemicals which are used in many non–green laminate cleaning products. These can omit volatile organic compound emissions (VOCs) which may be harmful to your health. To make your flooring purchase greener, compliment it with eco–friendly cleaning products that are low or no VOC and made with biodegradable ingredients.

For more information on eco–friendly laminate flooring visit our sections on Laminate and LEED and the Laminate Flooring Lifecycle.