Best Flooring for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers
VINYL FLOORING has a slick, smooth surface, leaving no places for particles to get trapped. It is easy to keep clean, and with the new click together waterproof vinyl planking for events like large spills and flooding are handle able. These planks can be taken up, allowing the flooring underneath to be completely dried and cleaned before putting the same planks back down. These days most vinyl is manufactured with an antibacterial agent right in the material. For allergy sufferers, vinyl is the Mayo Clinic's highest recommendation for bathrooms, and on their list as great for living areas, including basements.
CERAMIC OR PORCELAIN TILE is another of the best options, and another top recommendation for bathrooms by the Mayo Clinic. The hard surface of tile resists accumulation, and is easy to care for. The installation method generally creates a sealed surface, preventing moisture from getting beneath the flooring so long as the grout between tiles is in good shape. Where vinyl can be a glue free, click together floor, these tiles will require grout and adhesives, so you'll want to check on those chemicals for potential emissions.
LAMINATE FLOORING is not cited by the Mayo Clinic at all, for or against, so they may have considered it a type of hardwood, but we placed it higher for a few reasons. It has the benefits of a smooth, hard surface, and most have a click together type of installation, eliminating adhesives, and making it possible to pull up the flooring in the event of a major spill or flood. Unlike the waterproof vinyl planks, some flooded laminate planks might not be able to be replaced, as they might soak in water and expand.
HARDWOOD FLOORING has the hard surface we're looking for to keep away the little particulates, and it can be easy to keep clean. It is not recommended in high moisture areas, places like a bathroom or anywhere steam has a frequent presence. Usually hardwood is attached to the subfloor beneath it, via nails or glue, so you can't pull it up after a spill or flood, and the wood itself can hold in moisture. Trapped underneath, this can foster mold growth. The Mayo people have it as their top recommendation for living rooms, but we would put it below laminate and bamboo on that list.
STONE TILE, if it's a highly polished marble or granite, can be a great choice. Some stone can be porous though, especially the more natural looking styles, and the uneven surfaces can collect the allergens we are trying to eliminate. Moisture beneath can become an issue, but underlayment with moisture barrier qualities, such as a foam rubber or cork, can help prevent mold and mildew from growing.
CARPET is at the bottom because of the wealth of recommendations against using it if you have allergies, but as I mentioned, there is a counter argument. There is no contention over whether carpet traps pollen and dander, and provides good housing for dust mites. The difference is that some see that as carpet acting like a filter for your air, and allude to tests showing that rooms with carpet had fewer airborne allergens than those with the above items. The theory is that well-kept, frequently cleaned carpet actually improves the air quality in a room. Below I've linked to a study frequently quoted on flooring sites that attests to this idea, and whose author seems to be credible.
If you must have carpet, all of the sources I checked suggest using what is called a low pile carpet. Think thinner rather than thicker. Also make sure it has been manufactured to be free of VOCs and to resist mold & mildew, and be as selective with the padding underneath the carpet. You would also need to vacuum it frequently, no less than weekly, using a machine with a HEPA filter, a good small particle filter.