With the current trend of PVC-free products entering the market of late, many flooring experts are wondering if this is simply another “green” product that offers a lot of hype but under delivers in the residential market. PVC-free has been successful commercially in the healthcare and educational arenas because of the nontoxic capabilities and absence of off-gassing. Where it has underperformed, however, has been the residential market. Despite PVC-free excelling in health and environmental spaces, it greatly lacked in style and was unattractive in the residential market. Color, design and general aesthetic was limited, bland, and outdated. It was expensive to produce and hard to sell to homeowners. Finally, new technology is changing this deficit, creating a product that is still nontoxic and environmentally healthy as well as attractive to households.
PVC-free offers many excellent advantages. One being no “off-gassing”. A growing population of homeowners desire a nontoxic and allergen-free place to live. Awareness of the effect of the materials in homes has been brought to the forefront of many homeowners choices in flooring. Floors are the biggest space in the home and require the most attention when creating a nontoxic environment for parents, children, and the pets they love. With many of the plasticizers and unhealthy fillers being pulled out of the core material in PVC-free, these floors are clean enough to eat (not recommended). The indoor air quality is drastically improved, guaranteeing a healthy, nontoxic place for families.
Environmentally, PVC-free products are cleaner to produce. In my research of the new PVC-free production technology, I found manufacturers who have been able to use 99% of material during production. They have used the benefit of its homogenous composition to capture any milling dust or fall down as material that is added back into production, leaving minimal waste. Just think of how much stays out of the landfills using this technology. Another PVC-free product has achieved a carbon neutral status, meaning the company is actively working toward removing an equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere that is put off during their production of the product. These are two great examples of manufacturing moving in the right direction for our planet and making PVC-free a worthy investment.
The third advantage is the natural stability of PVC-free products. PVC in its natural state is hard and brittle. For any application where flexibility is needed, plasticizers are required. PVC-free materials such as polypropylene and wood are more stable in temperature changes and do not require any modification or addition of plasticizers. They also retain some flexibility. Additionally, wood is organic by nature and when mixed with special organic adhesives gives you a PVC-free product with great dimensional stability.
But how does it look? In a word, fantastic. With advancements in technology, not only are manufactures able to achieve great visuals, they are able to achieve them at much more aggressive price points than in the past while retaining the green status. We now carry PVC-free rigid core, laminates, and glue down products we have never had access to in the past. Many of these are specifically designed for our retail customers. The benefits of a non-toxic, environmentally clean, and low waste product now have the final element of the aesthetics residential homeowner’s desire. These products are sellable. There is a great opportunity for growth with PVC-free.