Should I Be Worried About Hardwood Floors if I’m Allergic to Trees?

Published: July 10, 2020

Q: I recently found out I have allergies to dust mites and many trees, including hickory. Our home has new hardwood flooring that’s hickory. Is it possible to be allergic to that hardwood? Should we add a sealant?

Unrecognizable father with his son playing with cars. Studio shot on wooden background.Photo: Getty

Dr. Bassett: For allergies, many hard-surface flooring products are preferred over carpeting, such as hardwood, tile or stone. These are easier to keep free of indoor allergens, including pet dander, house dust mites and molds.

In addressing your question, the type of hardwood chosen for flooring, whether it is sourced from oak, maple or hickory, is not the issue. This is because seasonal allergy symptoms are triggered by airborne pollen, and not a tree’s wood. It’s the pollen to which you have developed allergic sensitivity.

Sealants and Air Quality

With flooring products, it’s wise to consider third-party certifications, including U.S. Green Building Council standards for sustainable materials and optimal indoor air quality thresholds.

If you are adding a sealant, look for one certified as low- or zero-VOC. Other sealants can off-gas volatile organic components, such as formaldehyde, which affect indoor air quality.

Dr. Clifford Bassett, allergist and asthma specialist, is the Medical Director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York (; Twitter @allergyreliefny). He is on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and is also the author of The New Food Allergy Solution.

Related Reading:
Formaldehyde: the Asthma Trigger Lurking in Flooring, Furniture and Paint
Laying Down the Best Allergy-Friendly Flooring Choices
Creating the Better Baby Nursery: Out With Allergens and VOCs

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