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The Problems With Chinese Flooring

Posted: Monday, October 25, 2010

Flooring is an important choice for your home, whether you're building a new home, or re-flooring that cozy place you've lived in for so many years. Its quite tempting, though, especially in the tumultuous economic climate we find ourselves in today, to scrimp on what could be one of the most important investments in your home.

You may find some good, competitive pricing out there in the marketplace: it's worth looking into. But the cheap flooring that is currently coming out of China seems to be causing problems for American customers. Some companies in the U.S. are producing their flooring products in one plant and then having them shipped all the way to China for chemical treatments that might be hazardous to you and your family.

The concern seems to be that chemically-infused products processed in China may contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs in wood and other building materials are known to emit chemical vapors, a phenomenon known as off-gassing, and these vapors may be nasty enough to contribute to respiratory infections and other health issues in the occupants of the home.

There is an investigation currently underway in California, examining drywall samples from Chinese manufacturers. The investigators are looking for the exact source of the formaldehyde and the make-up of any lung irritants in a number of homes. The concern in the flooring industry is that these same problems may exist in Chinese flooring as well. Though the concerns are real, especially considering the recent drywall testing, it remains to be seen what the results will show, and whether the same applies to flooring.

It is apparent, however, regardless of VOC usage, that Chinese flooring, in terms of sheer quality, is not up to par with current U.S. and European offerings. In other words, you seem to get what you pay for. Samples of oak floors from certain Chinese manufacturing plants appear to lack the grain definition and coloration of their Western counterparts, so people who want a certain look to their hardwood flooring may not get it if they buy Chinese imports.

All this to say that Chinese flooring may have some inherent issues. While distributors and suppliers of quality flooring products are being careful with whom they choose to deal, you should, too. When it comes to your home and the health of your family, you can never be too informed.