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  • Writer's pictureKate Hamblet

Sustainable Flooring: Natural Flooring Choices for a Healthier Home

Healthy Home Design Corner By Kate Hamble, Wellness Architect

Creating a healthy home involves making many conscious choices, especially when it comes to the flooring. The materials we walk on daily can significantly impact indoor air quality and overall well-being. Here are some of my favorite sustainable and healthy flooring options that promote cleaner air, minimize toxins, and contribute to a greener planet.

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood flooring is a natural and durable option that doesn't trap allergens. However, make sure the wood is sourced sustainably (look for FSC certified) and without harmful finishes or adhesives. Wood floors should be installed with nails or as floating floors to avoid glue. Hardwood expands and contracts, so this might not be suitable for all climates. You'll also want to make sure the finish is non-toxic. If pre-finished, look for UV cured since this 'bakes off' the toxins. If finishing once installed, use non-toxic products to stain and seal the wood, such as AFM Safecoat products. Rubio monocoat is also a great option because it colors and seals the wood at once. Listen to this podcast episode for more on healthy wood flooring.

Engineered Hardwood

This flooring is a solid piece of wood as the top layer with a plywood core. I don't typically recommend engineered wood because the plywood core most often contains formaldehyde. But there are a few exceptions. Kahrs and Mafi both use a solid wood core and non-toxic glues. Another great option is Hempwood. This product has a different look since it's made from hemp, but it's also non-toxic, using a soy-based plywood core.


Cork flooring is antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, and resistant to mold and mildew. It's a sustainable option made from the bark of cork oak trees.


Linoleum flooring is a great option for healthy homes, and one of my favorites because of its price point. It's made of linseed oil and other natural materials. It's also naturally anti-microbial and anti-static, making it very healthy and easy to clean. I love the Marmoleum Click tiles by Forbo that easily click together without needing glue.

Ceramic or Porcelain Tiles

Tiles made from ceramic or porcelain are non-toxic, durable, and easy to clean. Look for US made tiles since some foreign tiles can contain lead. Choose grout without harmful additives for a healthier installation. Also make sure to check the slip resistance of the tiles! You don't want slippery floors. Look for a dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) of at least 0.42.

Natural Wool Carpet

I prefer hard flooring surfaces because they are easier to clean, and dust and allergens don't get trapped in them like they do carpet. But if you prefer carpet, opt for natural wool carpets, which are sustainable, biodegradable, and have natural stain resistance properties. Make sure to use low-VOC adhesives for installation.


If your house is a slab-on-grade or if you're finishing a basement, you can use the concrete slab as your finished floor! This saves on materials since you aren't covering the floor with another type of flooring. Concrete is inert once cured so it's a great material for healthy flooring. Just be sure to check the additives if you're sealing or staining the floor. Note: Concrete has a massive carbon footprint so I don't recommend adding concrete as flooring if it's not already going to be used for the slab. We want to use as little concrete as possible.

Natural Fiber Rugs

You'll probably want some area rugs for a bit of softness on your hard flooring. For area rugs, consider natural fibers like jute, sisal, or seagrass, which are sustainable and non-toxic.

Healthy flooring options are also natural (or comprised of natural materials like concrete), and it's so important to physically connect to natural materials in our daily lives. These flooring options not only keep the air in your home safe from toxins, but they help connect you to nature, improving your well-being. Luckily there are a lot to choose from so you can find the right type of flooring to fit the way you live in your home.

By Kate Hamblet, Wellness Architect and Founder of Balanced Architecture

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