DIY, Holistic Living, Home

The time we installed a formaldehyde floor in our new nursery

August 13, 2013

No, really.  We did.  That was fun.

We have a 14-year-old chocolate lab who peed on our carpet like it was her job.  I know she couldn’t help it, but still — gross!  So, we knew we needed to replace our floor before the babies arrive.  I wanted to put down wood laminate and I picked something out from an unnamed source and bought it.

My dad and Erick worked really hard installing it in the nursery.  All of this was happening as I was in really bad shape with my health problems.

After it was done, it looked beautiful. But…it had a really strong odor.  REALLY strong.  Noxious fumes strong.  Not new smell. I like new.  I gave it some time, but it didn’t get any better.  I started becoming concerned.  When I would walk in the room, my eyes would burn.  That’s so beyond normal.

So, after noticing the product was made in China, I became really concerned.  I started doing research and learned that it’s possible that some flooring from China can have illegal levels of formaldehyde.  By the way, in case you didn’t know, pretty much all building materials have miniscule amounts of formaldehyde.

So, I agonized over this information not knowing what to do.  Obviously any further installation was halted.  And, then we decided to rip up the floor as we could not take a chance with that being in the nursery.  At some point, I wondered if was I being crazy?  Then, I would walk in the room and be knocked over by the fumes and know we were doing the right thing.

So, we lost a bunch of time, a bunch of hard work, a bunch of money and I experienced a lot of heartache over it, during a time that was extremely stressful for me anyway.  I was dealing with anxiety at the time already and I can assure you that this sent me over the edge. 🙁

After it was removed, it took two weeks for the smell to go away! We had to open the windows, run fans, put charcoal in the room and mop the subfloor with bleach.

Eventually, the company was gracious and willing to work with us and refunded our money, thank goodness. (They reached out to me because I had written disparaging information about them online in several places.)  And, I think I got lucky. Unfortunately, I have no advice to you in this regard.

I felt like an idiot for having bought this flooring.  But, who would have thought to ask, “So, is this product chock full of formaldehyde that will make me feel sick?”

We have since bought flooring from Pergo.  Flooring from the good old US of A.  North Carolina, in fact.  I’m happy to report that it doesn’t smell at all and it’s even prettier. For anyone looking for good flooring, I highly recommend Pergo. You can even order online and it ships for free. (UPDATED: Two years later and the floor is amazing. We have a large dog and have no scratches! Dogs scratch regular hardwoods, so this is great. I chose Pergo because the kennel where Kali stays has it and I couldn’t believe how good it looked with so many dogs in and out.)

I have never been one that wants to buy anything made in China, but neither have I checked everything I buy.  You better believe that I will now.

P.S.  I can NOT disclose where I bought the flooring from or the manufacturer as part of my settlement agreement to have my money refunded.  Just be smart about what you buy and from where.


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  • Katie

    That’s nuts – and scary! We have Pergo downstairs in our house, and we love it. We installed it ourselves 3 years ago, and it’s great. I’m glad you found a (safer) alternative.

  • That’s awful, but I’m glad you fixed it.

  • Jodi

    That sucks and sorry to hear about the pain you are in. I have fibromyalgia but doesn’t sound nearly as bad as what u have. Another tip on smells- smell the cribs before u buy them. I got mine at babies r us and had them delivered and set up and they smelled like varnish really bad. I had them replaced by BRU and the new ones smelled a little but it went away. I rubbed apple cider vinegar on them for a week. Get the cribs early to air them out. The babies will probably be in your room anyway for the first 5-6 months. Ours were anyway. In an arms reach co sleeper but didn’t co sleep: left it like a pack n play.
    How many weeks are the kids now? Gotta be past V day?


    • Whitney Anderson

      We are 26.5 weeks now. 10.5 weeks to go!

  • Dave

    I’m curious to know which Pergo floor you found with no (or minimal?) formaldehyde. I’m going crazy with so many warnings about formaldehyde. I’d really like floating wood floor I could put myself (rather than professionally installed hardwood) but I can’t find one specific brand and model that is formaldehyde-free.

  • April

    Can you please provide more information about the Pergo you chose and how do I make sure what I buy is formaldehyde free? My son has chemical sensitivities. Thanks.

    • All Pergo is made in the USA and is high quality. We bought online from the factory outlet.

      • Michael Palin

        China made: I bought Pergo Premium Laminate flooring – clearly marked “Made in China”
        It’s African Coralwood LF000699 8mm. The labeling states “This composite wood product complies with Carb 93120 Phase 2 emission requirements”; Manf 09/14/21012.
        So I guess one should read the label. I that the formaldehyde limit is <0.05 ppm.

  • Caerus

    Because it is completely unknown for people, particularly children, in third world countries to be affected adversely by the crazy chemicals they allow to be present in stuff? Like say, the babies that died because of tainted formula in China? Go away, troll.

  • elena

    It is not a paranoya. But if you walked in the room with the high level of formaldehyde in the flooring you would have agreed that it is not normal. I know it because it was me. We spent $3500 on the flooring and 3 months later after horrible eye and throat burning and allergies(which we never had before) had to get rid off the floors. And we weren’t compensated. Sometimes labells tell you what you want to see.Third world countries have different problems.

  • Felicia

    I understand you do not want to disclose the company who sold you the laminate, but I do need to say I am currently in the same situation. We installed some (basically) deadly flooring throughout the main floor of our new home when we bought it nearly one year ago. I am now 7 months pregnant and my husband is tearing up all of our floors before the baby is due. We are not receiving any refund or even able to get any answers/ feedback from the company. Because my husband both installed and uninstalled the floor himself, we have joined a class action lawsuit. Basically, I’m wondering what steps you had to take to get a refund. Right now it seems impossible.

    • Whitney Anderson

      I’m really sorry. I got lucky I think b/c it was early on before the big news broke. I think a class action is your best bet right now. So sorry. 🙁


    Engineered hardwood flooring typically provides an advantage over laminates because better quality engineered floors have a plywood core rather than a press board core like almost all laminates. Press board cores require more glue to hold the assembly together and unfortunately that glue is often of high formaldehyde content. Plywood backed engineered flooring contains less glue. Some engineered flooring manufacturers use low formaldehyde glues in their assemblies to meet Federal and State (read California) indoor air quality standards. Others, including us, use glues that do not contain a formaldehyde base. Eddie Bauer HOME hardwood floors, and some other US manufacturers, offer engineered hardwood flooring without a formaldehyde base. Our floors also feature a matte UV cured
    acrylic finish which doesn’t contain any solvents so there are no VOCs. A
    good solution for people with chemical sensitivities. We currently produce all of our
    engineered hardwood flooring styles in the USA. Manufacturers are getting better at addressing this issue and identifying when their products are formaldehyde free so you should be able to find several options.