I generally try to steer clear of drama. And as hard as it is for me to imagine, sometimes flooring can cause nothing less than heated fervor. Especially when the manufacturers of the flooring don’t appear to be laying all of their cards on the table. There comes a time in every responsible human being’s life when you just have to let the cat out of the bag, in spite of the impending wounds. Lumber Liquidators recently found itself under fire regarding some air quality questions related to their laminate flooring. Should you be concerned?
The backstory is that I recently laid an unfinished wood floor after deliberating for months over the pros and cons of pre-fabricated flooring, finished wood flooring, and unfinished hardwood floor. I love the finished look of all three.
After finally making the decision to go unfinished, I still had doubts. Midway through my project, out of exasperation, I laid down in the middle of the completed portion of my new floor and hooked myself up to a chocolate drip-line. (Did I actually say I’m not big into drama?) In the midst of my chocolate-induced coma, I dreamt of how much easier and less time consuming the choice for snap together laminate flooring might have been.
I was able to work through my angst thanks to the chocolate. Now that my project’s complete, I’d choose unfinished hardwood over and over again. So the proverbial cat that needs to be let out of the bag doesn’t impact me too much. If I’d chosen the laminate flooring option, I’d have my claws fully bared in response to the latest news concerning some pre-fabricated laminate flooring though, which is why this information needs to be shared.
The Indoor Air Quality Scoop
Recently, 60 Minutes aired a segment about pre-fabricated laminate flooring specifically purchased from Lumber Liquidators. The report begins with a homeowner who is allegedly removing his newly laid laminate flooring from his home for fear of adverse health risks. While the homeowner doesn’t claim any actual health problems, the report goes on to demonstrate that Lumber Liquidators may be fraudulently claiming to meet California indoor air quality standards.
Only a handful of states currently have regulations for indoor air quality. California is one of them, and under the direction of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), there are strict standards for compliance. Beginning this year (2015), the federal government will have indoor air quality standards in place.
The glue used to adhere particles in laminate together in pre-fabricated flooring typically contains some amount of formaldehyde. It’s a chemical that produces unhealthy indoor emissions, and California currently sets the standard for the safety levels. The emissions are known to trigger a wide range of diseases from respiratory irritations to some forms of cancer. Constant exposure to high levels of these emissions in your living environment isn’t good, and younger children, according to the 60 Minutes representatives, seem especially susceptible to illness from exposure.
Several 60 Minute studies and undercover investigations demonstrate that pre-fabricated laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators does not meet expected health standards. Several boxes of laminate flooring were randomly purchased in many different states for a test sample. The fact is, in test labs, Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring didn’t even come close to meeting standards.
The Potential Fabrication
Some of you might shrug that off. Maybe you don’t have little kids, and you think the greenies are too uptight. Whether you agree or not with the health standards, Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring bears a sticker which states that it, indeed, is California state compliant. Unless Lumber Liquidators can prove the 60 Minutes investigative team’s findings inaccurate, their pre-fabricated flooring health standard promise seems to be a complete fabrication. So, now the cat’s on the loose! I have a chocolate drip-line you can borrow to ease any angst this news might create.
To watch the 60 minutes segment yourself, check out:
And check out these fact sheets for a more comprehensive understanding of California laminate flooring standards along with maintenance suggestions.
Remember that not all laminate flooring is created equal. As far as we know, only Lumber Liquidators is currently under fire for air quality concerns. The 6o minutes team shared that other retailers have adhered with CARB standards. While other retailers laminate flooring costs will be higher compared to Lumber Liquidators, they appear to have remained compliant. Compliance means higher manufacturing costs. Some believe there are times when it pays to cut corners. But in this case, it just doesn’t.
If you’re concerned about the air quality in your home (and we mean really concerned. . . this tool isn’t cheap), Home Depot actually carries a formaldehyde meter made by General Tools, currently retailing for $369: