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What is the Best Eco-friendly Flooring for Our Child's Room

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 16 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Cork Flooring Carpet Woollen Carpet Wool

Q.

We're trying to decorate our children's rooms in an eco-friendly and non-toxic way but can't find where to buy appropriate flooring from. Also, I'm struggling to decide on the right material which is safe, comfortable for them to play on, and easy to keep clean.

Hope you can help as we are at a loss and desperate to finish decorating!

(N.E, 3 June 2009)

A.

This is a bit of a dilemma because as far as sustainable and non-toxic flooring goes the easy choices are solid flooring materials, but they generally go against the desire for something comfortable.

Solid Flooring Options

Lino, for example, ticks all the boxes as a natural, safe, environmentally friendly and biodegradable flooring material but it is probably too uncomfortable for a children's room. A softer material would be much more comfortable for children to play on and warmer to the touch too.

However, don't completely discount solid flooring. Although cushioned vinyls are out on sustainability and toxicity grounds, there is one natural solid flooring option that is neither rock hard or cold, and that is cork.

Consider Cork

Not only is European cork grown in a very sustainable way but cork producers have fallen on hard times as the wine industry embraces plastic corks and screw-top caps so you would be supporting a sustainable industry in Europe. Cork is softer than many other woods, naturally anti-microbial and resilient to most stains.

But be wary of self-adhesive cork tiles as it's often not possible to find out what's in the adhesive. If you buy plain tiles you can then stick them down with a natural adhesive, or you can get tiles that click together and use no glue at all.

Natural Woven Carpet

For softer flooring made from natural materials the next family of products to consider are those made from natural fibres like coir, seagrass, jute or sisal. Each of these is softer than solid flooring but not as soft as carpet.

They are all obtainable from certified sustainable sources and are woven together, usually without any added glue or other chemicals. Look at our articles about each one of these materials in our 'Other Options' section to get an idea of the pros and cons of each one.

Woollen Carpet

Finally, don’t discount a 100% wool carpet. It's likely to be the most expensive of the options but it is naturally stain resistant, not to mention anti-static and fire-resistant. It is also softer than almost any other easily available flooring and warm too. To keep the bedroom safe make sure the dye used is natural.

Be careful of some of the treatments against mildew and moths, both of which woollen carpets are susceptible to. But neither of these should be a problem in a room in a modern home which is in daily use so you can choose an untreated carpet. The backing is important too, select a carpet with a natural backing material such as jute.

Hopefully this round-up has helped and you can now choose the right product and finish off your decorating!

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