Inside: Carpeting/Flooring

Dec. 1, 2002
Carpets best for young children?; Mold prompts carpet-removal suggestion; Environmental criteria for school floors


Carpeting is the surface that teachers, children and parents believe is best for preschools.

That was one finding in a University of Georgia survey of 1,000 preschool administrators and teachers, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute.

Carpet was favored over hardwood, tile and vinyl/linoleum, but it also had undesirable characteristics.

Carpet scored highest on noise control and comfort, and was perceived as preventing injuries from falls and allowing for flexibility. But carpet also scored lowest on ease of cleaning, and respondents perceived it as requiring constant maintenance and contributing to allergic reactions.


Hilton Head Elementary School in Hilton Head Island, S.C., should replace much of its carpeting with tile because of mold problems.

That is one recommendation contained in a 150-page air-quality study of the school commission by the Beaufort County (S.C.) School District. The district sought the study after complaints about mold in the school.

AAA Environmental, which conducted the study, found that carpets in the school had fungal contamination.

“A schedule of remediation of all carpets needs to be implemented as the life of the carpet ends, prioritizing by the age of the occupants,” says the report. “The younger the children are in the room, the higher the priority…. The recommendation (is) to replace carpet with vinyl flooring. If due to the age of the occupants a rug is necessary, an area rug could be cleaned and replaced easily and inexpensively.”

The report also stressed that the school needed to be vigilant about preventing water intrusion into the building and about controlling humidity in the building.


Flooring type




Thermal comfort; physical comfort; provides safety for small children; noise control; some recycling options are available.

May emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs); can harbor allergy-causing particles; less durable and stains more easily; debris generated when replaced; can be a source of mold.

Resilient flooring

Because of high durability, tends to cost less per year of use than carpet; easy to clean; high reflectivity can enhance daylighting.

Flooring adhesives and maintenance may add to indoor pollution; most resilient floors are not recyclable or biodegradable.

Ceramic tile/terrazzo

Recycled content available; easy to clean and stain-resistant; highly durable; high reflectivity can augment daylighting.

High cost; tile installation materials are sources of VOCs; hard-finished surface may compromise comfort; adhesives and maintenance products may add to indoor pollution.

Concrete flooring

Highly durable; low maintenance and low cost.

Sealants and wax products may add to indoor pollution.

Wood flooring

Biodegradable; easy to clean; “warm,” comfortable surface; durable and can be refinished to prolong its life; good aesthetics.

High cost; adhesives and maintenance products may add to pollution; requires moisture-prevention care to prevent indoor air quality problems; on-site sanding requires special steps.

Bamboo flooring

Material efficient; durable and hard; easy to clean; “warm,” comfortable surface.

High cost; adhesives, sealants and maintenance products may add to indoor pollution.

Source: National Best Practices Manual For Building High Performance Schools, U.S. Department of Energy
About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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