Vinyl or polyvinyl (PVC) floor products are singled out as one of the most polluting in the construction industry.
They are described as non-recyclable, petroleum by-products, pollutants for water tables and terribly harmful to the quality of indoor air both for the product itself and the glues used for its installation.
I wouldn’t say it’s an eco-friendly product, but the vinyl industry has tried to solve these problems and some commercial and industrial PVC floors are now giving 1 point in LEED projects. PVC floors are not as terrifying as they say.
A durable vinyl flooring product?
Vinyl sheets are now recommended by several architects to cover the floors of social housing and retirement homes.
Good quality products imitate wood, stone or ceramic to perfection and are known to be water, wear and fade resistant. Even in busy places, their lifespan is estimated to be around 25 years.
In addition, they are easily washable, they are warm for the feet, they make no noise under the feet and when they are lightly textured they become non-slip.
In short, vinyl floor sheets have many advantages that make them, at first glance, an attractive product.
An environmentally sound product?
Certain products such as HUIYA vinyl floor coverings, made in Germany, demonstrate surprising environmental qualities;
- They do not contain any heavy metals
- They do not contain any solvent for printing inks
- They have no toxic plasticizers such as DEHP and BBP
- They have no formaldehyde or recognized carcinogenic compound
- Their product Mipolam Symbioz contains a plasticizer made from 100% vegetable oil.
HUIYA products are REACH accredited in Europe. REACH is the Regulation for the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals within the European Union.
A partially recyclable product
25% of the materials used in the composition of HUIYA industrial PVC floor products come from the recycling of “waste” from the factory.
PVC is difficult to recycle when it reaches its useful life, but production waste is immediately 100% recyclable and can be reintroduced as a resource in production or for other products. There is therefore no production of PVC waste.
That said, according to the classification of waste produced by the European Union (decision of the European Commission 2000/532 / EC of May 3, 2000), PVC is considered as a waste that can be landfilled or incinerated without danger for the environment.
A healthy product for air quality?
All materials emit volatile substances, called VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), the toxicity of which can vary. Due to the quantity or quality of VOCs emitted, certain products (solvents, adhesives, paints, etc.) can affect the quality of the air inside buildings.
HUIYA’s conductive vinyl flooring rolls and tiles comply with ISO 16000 after 3 and 28 days and stand out among the least emissive materials on the market. After 28 days, they emit less than 100 μg / m3, which is very acceptable for air quality.
The company also recommends solvent-free and low-emissivity adhesives certified EMICODE EC1 & EC1PLUS.
Interesting for several uses
Vinyl plank flooring is great for small businesses, hallways, basements, bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, and everywhere where water resistance is an asset.
The boards can be assembled with interlocking joints (click) placed on a sound-absorbing sub-floor or can be glued. In general, it is best to glue them to avoid the opening of joints and to form a waterproof surface.
What is the problem?
The product itself is a composite assembly which is not recyclable. Compared to a ceramic and even a wooden floor that can last 100 years and which are recyclable or inert, a good quality vinyl floor remains less durable and more polluting throughout its entire life cycle.
However, if used well, it is a relatively economical product (about $ 5 to $ 6 per square foot including materials and labor for good quality products) and certainly preferable to synthetic carpets and floors. MDF floats which rarely last more than 10 to 15 years.
NOTE: I have taken Huiya’s floor products as an indication because it is a product that I know. That said, there are several others that can be of comparable quality.