Consumer Reports tests flooring for formaldehyde and offers buying office

Posted at 1:17 PM, Jul 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-28 17:42:01-04

Laminate flooring is less expensive than solid wood, but there have been concerns that it emits formaldehyde. So Consumer Reports bought a variety of wood-based flooring products and ran lab tests over the past year.

It was a small study, but Consumer Reports did find that laminate and engineered wood had consistently higher levels of formaldehyde emissions compared with prefinished solid-wood samples that were tested.

If you’re putting in new flooring, Consumer Reports says prefinished solid-wood flooring is a better choice for reducing formaldehyde exposure. If you’ve had laminate or engineered-wood flooring for several years, there’s less cause for concern because formaldehyde is a volatile chemical that will dissipate over time.

The problem is that lots of products can emit formaldehyde, especially when they’re new. Things like permanent-press fabric, upholstery, plywood, particleboard, paints, and cigarettes all can emit formaldehyde.

To lower formaldehyde levels, open windows to let in fresh air, wash permanent-press clothing and curtains before using them, choose wood furniture without formaldehyde-containing glues, and ban indoor smoking. But forget about using an air purifier. It probably won’t lower formaldehyde levels. Nor will putting a rug over your floor.

There are no federal limits for formaldehyde, but California does set limits on how much formaldehyde can be emitted by flooring and other pressed-wood products. Consumer Reports believes even California’s levels are not low enough.

In June, Lumber Liquidators reached a settlement with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and agreed to continue testing some of its laminate floors free of charge. You can get more information at 800-366-4204.


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