Any hardwood flooring contractor will tell you that, if you suffer from allergies, hardwood floors are a much better choice for your home than carpets or vinyl sheet flooring. Few of us ever think to ask whether this is true, or how it is true.
To start we need to have a little understanding of what causes allergies. Without going into the complete medical details, an allergic reaction happens when a sufferer comes into contact with certain environmental irritants, such as dust and pollen, or some foods and chemicals. The sufferer’s immune system wrongly treats these irritants as a virus, and starts to produce antibodies, just as if it were fighting influenza or shingles. These antibodies cause the body to produce a chemical called histamine, which starts off a number of physical reactions, including tightening of the airways and increased production of mucus in the nose. Both of these result in the classical allergic reactions of difficulty breathing and a sore and irritated nose.
With the exception of food allergies, most common allergens are found in minute particles such as dust, pollen, and tiny flakes of human or animal skin, or tiny insects called dust mites. These particles and mites are so small they are mostly invisible to the naked eye, and are very easily trapped in the fibers of even the shortest pile carpets. Domestic vacuum cleaners are not very efficient at removing these particles from carpets. Consequently, they remain embedded in the carpet, causing allergic reactions over and again.
Hardwood floors are much easier to clean than carpets, as there is no pile to trap the offending particles. This makes them much easier to vacuum, which prevents the allergens building up to dangerous levels over a period of time. However, you still need to take care when selecting a hardwood floor. Some allergy sufferers react badly to the minute amounts of chemical traces given off by the treatment of the flooring during manufacture. Unlike vinyl sheet flooring, these chemical traces are only temporary and disperse after a couple of days; vinyl sheet flooring can give off chemical traces for many years.
A professional hardwood flooring contractor will be able to give you advice on which is the most suitable flooring for your needs, and whether you have to take any precautions after it has been laid. If you live in Austin, TX, call us at (512) 845-4142 for professional advice.