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Non-estrogenic resilient floor recs?

washxhouse | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

I’m doing spec for a floor in an area where LVT seems like it’d be a great fit were it not for the PVC content.

Just read this piece in Mother Jones about estrogenic plastics and it was a real eye-opener vis a vis more or less all plastics in my life. I say this as someone who’s been militantly anti-plastic for a decade now.

… so I’m on the hunt for an affordable resilient floor product that is non-estrogenic. I’ve been slowly combing through the Declare database but a lot of these products seem to be commercial spec…

Any specific recommendations or recommendations of places to look would be appreciated. Might just install local hardwood with a no-VOC oil finish like Monocoat or something and call it a life.


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  1. user-2310254 | | #1

    What about linoleum or cork?

    1. washxhouse | | #2

      I never considered linoleum. Didn't even know what it was! That's a great option, thanks.

      As for cork, are you aware of any cork products that have transparency about what their resin composition is? I'm concerned that while cork is involved in a cork floor, it's also likely a lot of plastic is as well.

      1. brendanalbano | | #4

        If you search "cork" on the Living Building Challenge's Declare products list, a variety of things come up. That's probably the best place to start for looking for maximum transparency about what's in the product:

        Linoleum is a solid option. We specify Marmoleum (Forbo's brand of linoleum) relatively frequently. It comes in a pretty wide variety of options in terms of solid sheets vs click tiles, colors, patterns, etc.

        1. washxhouse | | #11

          Thanks yeah did not think to search Declare for cork specifically. Good lead.

          As for Marmoleum - what context are you installing that? I have in my mind a very dated image of what linoleum looks and feels like, I'm sure, but even from Marmoleum's materials it has a very ... commercial, high-traffic-area look to it.

  2. user-2310254 | | #3

    There are a lot of cork products on the market. Some are supposed to be "green," but I don't know if that means green enough for your application. FWIW, this site has a pretty extension selection of cork flooring:

    1. washxhouse | | #6

      Yeah I like GBS for this stuff but to your point 'green' and healthy are, sadly, not necessarily the same thing. The depth of the diving required to ascertain the healthy part is just as much of a lift as the green, but really gets a little less attention at the residential level than at the commercial level in my experience. Tough to get reliable expert 3rd party opinions.

  3. jmg7d8 | | #5

    Many laminates are greenguard certified. Some new products are even using "SPC" like cores instead of MDF so they are 100% waterproof. Look at Aride QPC and Inhaus Sono Eclipse

    1. washxhouse | | #7

      The greenguard is great for VOC but doesn't cover estrogenic activity, which IMO is going to be in the conversation a lot more in the future and is this generation's lead or asbestos.

      SPC, as an example, is still PVC, which is one of the worst offenders for estrogenic activity :/

      I'll dig into Eclipse but seeing polypropylene included in two layers of the sandwich doesn't bode well.

      1. jmg7d8 | | #9

        The sono eclipse product is vinyl free. Polypropylene in (general, really, but especially in) floors should not have any endocrine effects - AFAIK as a professional chemist

        1. washxhouse | | #12

          I am extremely not a professional chemist so I value your opinion on this but my understanding is that very few plastic-containing products are simply the polymer on the label (in this case PP), but are in fact that polymer as a base plus loads of additives to get the performance and appearance they want. The studies referenced in that Mother Jones article I linked consistently found endocrine effects in products labeled PP, but of course they didn't have a complete ingredient list to work from. That's what makes Declare's project so appealing to me.

  4. HFF | | #8

    I'm curious about why you think estrogen mimics in flooring present a health hazard.

    1. washxhouse | | #10

      So all the evidence around estrongenic plastics is murky, including how it gets from our environment into our bodies, but I'm of the mindset that if it's nasty, I don't want it on the planet, much less on my property, much less in my house.

      My logic is - I would assume that proximity contributes to uptake, but even if it doesn't, by purchasing a product containing that stuff I'm contributing to the ongoing process of distributing it throughout the environment. Conversely, by probing distributors for the content of the products they sell and only purchasing one that doesn't contain stuff that is nasty for me and the other living things on the planet, I'm voting with my dollar. I'm going to do this for the rest of my life and would love it if others did the same.

      1. HFF | | #13

        Fair enough, I respect your reasoning. I would just say that if you were simply concerned with your personal health, I don't think it's worth worrying about. These compounds are primarily absorbed through ingestion. And while there is some potential for dermal absorption, neither of these routes of bodily uptake would occur through normal interaction with flooring. Anyway, it seems like marmoleum would be a good option for you.

        1. washxhouse | | #14

          Yeah point taken on that for sure. I'm trying to think lifecycle on stuff like this if I can, kind of in the same way that I wouldn't install asbestos today even if I knew it was pretty safe being entombed in a wall. Somebody is going to have to deal with it at some point.

  5. user-5946022 | | #15

    Your idea to use hardwoods and site finish is sound. It is also more sustainable in the long run because they can be site refinished - you don't have to rip out and replace.

    However, hardwoods are not appropriate for all areas. Bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc may need a different flooring. For bathrooms, my primary concern was slip resistance, and ensuring it was a "soft" (softer than tile) surface, ease of maintenance (no grout lines) and waterproof. I ended up using Xpanco's XCR4 rubber/cork product. I am VERY happy with it. Xpanco was relatively easy to work with - I ordered the product direct from them and they took a credit card. Local residential installers were not familiar with it, and refused to prep the subfloor per the directions (insisting it was not necessary - like they know so much about a product they never installed before), so I installed it myself, which was also relatively simple (not technically complex) and it came out well.

    Your question caused me to look it up, and although Xpanco's XCR4 is not RedList/Declare (although some of their other products are), one of their competitors has a rubber/cork product with high slip resistance that looks to be very similar, if not the same, as the XCR4. Check out Zandur's "Sustain" Rubber/Cork flooring - Redlist/Declare, very high slip resistance both dry and wet, and it comes in better colors than the XCR4. I probably would have used it instead of the XCR4 had I known about it...

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