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vinyl flooring

Did you know?
  • You should not put rugs or mats with rubber backing over vinyl floors. The interaction can discolor and damage the vinyl.
  • Airing out vinyl flooring in a protected place for 48 to 72 hours reduces the VOCs released into your home when it's installed and protects your home's indoor air quality.
  • FloorScore certification guarantees that vinyl flooring meets or exceeds emission standards for indoor air quality.
Want to know more?
Visit our FAQ's & Glossary.

Vinyl flooring is a touchy issue within the green building movement. On one hand, the environmental community believes its main component, PVC, is hazardous. According to Greenpeace, "PVC contaminates humans and the environment throughout its lifecycle: during its production, use and disposal. Few consumers realize that PVC is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics."

On the other hand, during GreenBuild International Conference and Expo 2007, the president of the Vinyl Institute noted that vinyl's "infinite flexibility, durability, and well–established energy–saving qualities represent one of the most effective ways of meeting the evolving standards for green buildings."

You might expect that kind of support from an industry spokesperson. But even the US Green Building Council (USGBC) seems to consider the matter an open question. In 2004, a USGBC task force decided against awarding points for the elimination of PVC in new construction, saying, "The available evidence does not support a conclusion that PVC is consistently worse than alternative materials on a lifecycle environmental and health basis."

Image of Vinyl Flooring

Some facts about vinyl flooring are not in dispute. It's reasonably priced, durable, and easy to maintain. For these and other reasons, vinyl flooring is extremely popular. In fact, in the United States sales of vinyl flooring are second only to carpet.

Throughout this section, you'll find information to help you decide if vinyl flooring is the right choice – a green choice – for your home.

Featured Vinyl Products

The Argument Against PVC

In a briefing paper for the Healthy Building Network, Joe Thornton PhD described the hazards of the PVC lifecycle, including these:

No Polyvinyl
Chloride (PVCs)

  • At numerous points during PVC's lifecycle, large quantities of hazardous by–products are produced and released into the environment.
  • By–products of PVC production resist natural degradation, build up in the tissues of living things, and cause a range of serious health hazards.
  • Phthalate plasticizers, which are added to make PVC flexible, can now be found in deep ocean water, air in even remote areas, and the tissues and fluids of the general population. Phthalates are known carcinogens in laboratory animand also have been found to reduce sperm counts, suppress ovulation, and cause abnormal development and function of the testes and male reproductive tract.

Alternatives to Vinyl Flooring – Other Green Flooring Options

If you appreciate vinyl's easy maintenance, affordability, and resilient surface, these green options might appeal to you.

Image of Linoleum, Cork and Recycled Rubber Flooring

  • Linoleum: Made from all natural materials, linoleum offers many of the same features as vinyl without the high environmental costs. It's available in sheet goods, tile, and click–lock panels.
  • Cork: Harvested every 9 or 10 years without harming the trees, the bark of cork oak trees produces attractive, durable, eco–friendly flooring.
  • Recycled Rubber: This flooring boasts up to 87% recycled tire rubber yet contains little to no VOCs. It's durable, comfortable to walk on, and can be recycled at the end of its useful life.
Vinyl Flooring Information | Help
  • Questions – Find out what to ask your local flooring store.
  • Lifecycle – Everything you wanted to know about the lifecycle of vinyl flooring.
  • Buying Guides – Get ready to shop for your vinyl floor with our buying guide.
  • Flooring Estimator Tools – Our estimator tool easily calculates the amount of vinyl you'll need for your project.
  • Installation – Installing your own vinyl floor? Get some tips from our pros.
  • FAQs – Find answers to frequently asked vinyl flooring questions.
  • Glossary – Definitions of commonly used vinyl flooring terms.