Resilient Flooring

example of flooring


Resiliency is a key word for the building industry. Resiliency describes strategies, features, and even materials that can adapt to and recover from challenges. When applied to flooring, this word connotes durability and long service life. However, resilient flooring can be a bit of a misnomer because some products within this category have a low service life and present material health hazards.


What is resilient flooring?

Resilient flooring is popular for its water-resistant, acoustic, and insulation properties. In 2019 alone, this flooring type covered 23.5 billion SF in buildings across the U.S.3 Resilient flooring is an overarching term used to describe LVT (luxury vinyl tile), vinyl sheets, and vinyl tile. It also includes linoleum, rubber, cork, and other various PVC-free options that vary in material health.6


Vinyl, LVT, it’s all bad

Resilient flooring is known for its durable use that spans many product types, with the most common being vinyl flooring.1 Vinyl flooring has material health implications from the release of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) during the manufacturing process as well as legacy chemicals of concern found in recycled vinyl flooring.


Check out this previous newsletter on the specific dangers of PVC in LVT.


Be cautious of recycled content

Although recycled content is usually a positive attribute, vinyl flooring with recycled content poses additional concerns because it may contain flooring made prior to the 2018 phase-out of toxic phthalates.7 Recycled vinyl can also come from sources known to carry lead and arsenic.8 Go ahead and ask the LVT manufacturer if they screen their recycled feedstock for toxic content, such as Per-and Polyfluorinates Substances (PFAS), asbestos, and mercury.


Although resilient flooring may be an appealing option for multifamily and other large scale projects because of its cost effectiveness, make sure to analyze the lifecycle cost that considers replacement and maintenance costs.


Reduce the carbon footprint of resilient flooring by limiting raw materials and specify healthy recycled alternatives that have been tested for contaminants of concern.1 Consider applying some of the following resilient flooring strategies:1
✓ Spec flooring with a long service life and avoid replacing flooring before the end of its service life.
✓ Spec manufacturers with established take-back programs.
✓ Spec products with a public HPD with transparent contents.
✓ Spec bio-based flooring options like linoleum and cork in the HBN’s Flooring Hazardous Spectrum.
✓ Spec non-vinyl resilient floorings such as linoleum and ethylene-vinyl acetate (which use less PVC in production and fewer additives).5
✓ If PVC-based flooring is unavoidable, avoid products with phthalates and recycled vinyl from unknown sources.