Home Hardwood Do I Have To Worry About Formaldehyde In Engineered Hardwoods?

Do I Have To Worry About Formaldehyde In Engineered Hardwoods?

by Bob and Betsy
Published: Updated: 10 comments 7 minutes read

Dear Bob and Betsy,

Do I have to worry about formaldehyde in engineered hardwoods? I know it can be found in laminate flooring, but hardwoods are safe, right?

-Elisia P.

Dear Elisia,

While you don’t have to necessarily worry about formaldehyde in your engineered hardwood, you should be aware that there is formaldehyde in your engineered hardwood. We know that formaldehyde in your flooring can sound really scary, but unless the levels are above what the California Air Resource Board determined is safe, you have nothing to worry about. You can easily tell if an engineered hardwood or any manufactured hardwood is up to code by asking seeing if the flooring is CARB2 compliant. We will help you through the process of being informed in your choice of engineered hardwood. We have compiled more information for you to help to decide what’s best for you. Cheers! Bob & Betsy

What is CARB2?

CARB2 stands for the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Phase 2, a stringent standard for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, including hardwood plywood (HWPW), particleboard (PB), and medium density fiberboard (MDF). Composite wood products are panels made from pieces, chips, particles, or fibers of wood bonded together with a resin. In the production of engineered hardwood flooring, the plywood core which contains the adhesives that contain the formaldehyde. This is where the emissions concerns come from for engineered hardwood.

Why CARB2?

These standards were set in place after the Air Resources Board (ARB) found that one of the major causes of formaldehyde exposure was from composite wood products containing urea-formaldehyde resins. California requires flooring manufacturers to pass the CARB2 testing for formaldehyde emissions and to label their products as Phase 2 Compliant.

Formaldehyde Risks

The health effects of formaldehyde, a carcinogen, can  include sore throat, cough, scratchy eyes, nosebleeds and upper respiratory symptoms. People with asthma, bronchitis, or other breathing conditions are especially sensitive to formaldehyde. These symptoms will only occur though in engineered hardwoods that have abnormally high levels of formaldehyde.

Other Sources of Formaldehyde

You might be surprised that formaldehyde can also be found in other household products. It’s pretty common in cigarettes, pressed wood, and particle board, furniture, tissues, air freshener, nail polish, soap, carpet, and more.

What Are The Emission Standards?

We have mentioned that if the levels are above a certain amount PPM (parts per million), your flooring can be dangerous. Below is the standards that CARB2 limits the amount of formaldehyde to to keep you and your loved ones safe.

  • Composite Core Hardwood Plywood (HWPW-CC): 0.05 PPM
  • Veneer Core Hardwood Plywood (HWPW-VC): 0.05 PPM.

The U.S. EPA regulates a Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act throughout the nation, which also uses the CARB2 emissions standards. Manufacturers of regulated products must conduct ongoing testing, conduct an initial inspection through a third-party certifier (TPC) and conduct mandated quarterly quality control testing.

Our Products

At Bestlaminate, we pride ourselves with using high-quality European and American manufacturers that have strict safety and manufacturing standards. We take formaldehyde emissions very seriously and we want to assure you that our flooring is safe for you and your family. To ensure you are confident in your past and future purchases with us, we have compiled a list of each engineered hardwood manufacturer along with their emission standards.

Here is a list of our manufacturers and their CARB2 compliance information:

  • Mohawk
  • Timeless Designs

Some of these manufacturers may specify they have a “FloorScore”. Please read the link below to see more information on what a “FloorScore” is and how it relates to CARB2 and your indoor air quality and safety.

Floorscore Rating – http://www.scsglobalservices.com/floorscore

What About Solid Hardwood?

If you plan on installing solid hardwood flooring, you don’t need to worry about CARB2 and formaldehyde emissions! Solid hardwood is made from all natural wood. There is no plywood or glue that is introduced the manufacturing process. Usually there is a stain and a protective coating added for durability, but that is it! If you would prefer to not deal with formaldehyde emissions in your flooring, this is the perfect option for you!

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a us a message in the comments below. We want to make sure you’re well informed about your flooring choice!

Sources and Resources:

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Julianne Forrelli April 27, 2023 - 12:43 pm

I bought pre-engineered flooring. I am very allergic to almost everything and right now battling very serious health issues….from almost the moment these floors were delivered…I began to have serious issues …all marked by all symptoms of terrible asthma which I already have. I am going to get the floors replaced by solid red oak unfinished with linseed oil on top. At this point I have no other choice…although emissions testing is marked safe or not to California levels of safe or not…these floors appear to be my worst enemy…looking for answers from others who have had this…

Rachel Vahcic April 27, 2023 - 1:44 pm

Thanks for your comment, Julianne. We are so sorry to hear of your experience with your engineered flooring and wish you the best of luck with your new flooring. We would suggest contacting the manufacturer of the engineered floor to see if anyone else may have had any similar experience.

Bob August 26, 2019 - 5:38 pm

The CARB2 limit is in different units than Floorscore. Carb2 is .05 ppm, while Floor Score is 9 micrograms/cubic meter.

Doing the conversion, it appears that 9 micrograms/cubic meter = .009 ppm.

Is this correct? If so, Floorscore would be a tougher standard?


Alana Kane August 27, 2019 - 10:05 am

Hi Bob, from what I can see, they use quite different ways to test for the emissions. Since FloorScore is a world leader in testing standards, I believe it will be stricter due to needing to comply with every country law on emission standards. CARB2 was a standard set in California. FloorScore also tests for multiple VOCs, in which CARB only deals with the Formaldehyde. You can read more about how they test here: https://www.scsglobalservices.com/files/brochures/floorscore-carb_one_sheet_v1.4.pdf

Don Tastad April 30, 2019 - 8:08 pm

How safe is Kings Court-Hyde Park CG-KCHPOA Engineered hardwood flooring? I am concerned about formaldehyde. Thank you.

Alana Kane April 30, 2019 - 11:53 pm

Hi Don, thanks for reaching out. We do not sell this brand, so I cannot give you the answer. I would recommend reaching out to the company you will purchase it from and ask them for the emissions certifications. We offer this on all of our floors to give our customers peace of mind!

Dinah Swan October 24, 2018 - 11:05 pm

is Pergo brand engineered wood flooring safe? does it have CARB-2 or something comparable?

Tyler October 26, 2018 - 2:28 pm

Hey Dinah! I would recommend contacting the source of your flooring to get all of those certifications! Thanks for reaching out.

formaldehyde tests December 14, 2016 - 6:29 pm

I blog often and I really thank you for your information. This great article has truly peaked my interest.
I am going to take a note of your website and keep checking for new details about once a week.
I opted in for your Feed as well.

Alana Kane December 19, 2016 - 12:40 pm

Thanks! We’re glad it was helpful.


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