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Install carpet with low-VOC adhesives

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Most residential carpet is installed with the tackless strip method, an eco-friendly method that does not involve adhesives. However, if you are installing cushion-backed (commercial carpet), carpet tiles or indoor-outdoor carpet, you will most likely apply an adhesive to the wood subfloor or cement pad. Additionally, carpet padding is sometimes adhered to the sub-floor with adhesives before the carpet is laid down. Adhesives that contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contribute to indoor air pollution and may affect your health.

How to install carpet with low-VOC adhesives

Carpet installation for large jobs is usually done by professionals. However, homeowners looking to install indoor-outdoor carpet, or install carpet in small areas can look to these websites for advice:

Find it! Low-VOC adhesives


Before you buy

To find more products that are certified to be low-VOC, see the search options on these websites:

Installing carpet with low-VOC adhesives helps you go green because…

  • It releases fewer volatile organic compounds into the air, minimizing indoor and outdoor air pollution, and their associated health and environmental concerns.

Organic chemicals are widely used as solvents in adhesives and other household products. When these carpet adhesives are used, they release organic compounds into the air we breathe. Concentrations of many VOCs are up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors, and some are suspected or known human carcinogens.[1]

Consumers are instructed to use these products indoors only in properly ventilated areas, which then evacuates these pollutants to the outdoors. VOCs contribute significantly to ground-level ozone (smog) production and a variety of health problems.[2] Ground-level ozone also harms ecosystems and vegetation, accounting for an estimated $500 million in reduced crop production each year in the United States.[3] Using low-VOC products can help reduce air pollution. In fact, the reduction of VOC emissions by 1 ton per year is the same as taking 26 cars off the road.[4]

Instead of solvents, manufacturers of low- or no-VOC adhesives use heat or other processes to emulsify the resin. Generally, water-based adhesives emit fewer VOCs than conventional solvent-based products.[5]

Even low- or no-VOC products may contain toxic ingredients, such as formaldehyde and toluene.[6][7] Chemically sensitive individuals need to be particularly careful when choosing adhesives. Technical Data Sheets or Materials Safety Data Sheets obtained from retailers or manufacturers’ websites list information about the adhesives that may help in making a choice.

Certified products

Two organizations presently certify carpet adhesives for low-VOC emissions. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) manages three indoor air quality testing programs. The most stringent is the Green Label Plus program, which meets California’s indoor quality standards for low-emitting products used in schools and office buildings.[8] Adhesive products are independently tested for emission levels of 15 chemicals.[7]

GREENGUARD Environmental Institute also tests adhesives for VOCs.[9] This testing program sets maximum allowable emission levels in accordance with the US Environmental Protection Agency's procurements specifications, the recommendations from the World Health Organization, LEED for New Construction, and LEED for Commercial Interiors.[10]


Although low-VOC adhesives typically cost more than their conventional counterparts, the cost is no more than 5 percent higher.[5] Cost is not the only concern, however. Manufacturers say low-VOC products perform on par with conventional products, yet widespread use among contractors has been slow, primarily due to longer cure times. This slow acceptance is expected to change, however, as manufacturers improve the products as well as their accessibility.[11]

Related health issues

People spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, and evidence suggests that the quality of indoor air, even in large cities, is often more polluted than the outside air.[12] VOCs vary in their ability to negatively affect health; some are highly toxic and others have no known health effects. Common sysmptoms after exposure are eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches; loss of coordination; nausea; and liver and kidney damage. Some VOCs are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.[13]


  • formaldehyde: A flammable reactive gas belonging to the VOC (volatile organic compound) family of chemicals. It is widely used in personal care products, building materials, insulation, and home furnishings. Ingestion of the chemical can cause severe physical reactions, including coma, internal bleeding, and death.[14] It a probable human carcinogen.[15]
  • ground-level ozone: The main component of smog, ground-level ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react chemically with nitrogen oxides (NOx) when it is sunny and hot outside.[16] Many urban areas have high levels of this summertime pollutant but rural areas can have increased ozone levels too as wind can carry ground-level ozone hundreds of miles from where it originates.[17] Breathing ozone can cause a number of respiratory health problems plus it damages ecosystems and vegetation including crops.[18]
  • toluene: A clear, water-insoluble liquid with a smell familiar to anyone who has opened a can of paint thinner. This aromatic hydrocarbon is known as a developmental toxicant that can cause adverse effects on the developing child. Effects can include birth defects and low birth weight. More than 1 million pounds are produced in the US annually.[19]
  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs): Gases released by a wide variety of products, including carpet, household cleansers, furniture, and dry-cleaned clothing.[13] VOCs can cause several health concerns, ranging from headaches and respiratory inflammation to central nervous system problems. VOCs are also considered a possible human carcinogen.[13]

External links



using low VOC adhesive is good idea in installing
<a href="">carpet</a> in vehicles and indoors because it provide good benefits. i am just wondering how to use when installing carpet in a vehicles.


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There are products available today, for residential applications, that have VOC-free adhesives used to install carpets. Our carpets are 100% toxin free and contain no chemicals of any kind.

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