Can You Burn Laminate Flooring? Is It Safe?
When trying to dispose of a large amount of laminate flooring, some people might consider burning it. Laminate flooring, after all, is largely made up of natural wood. That means it should be safe to burn, right? Not quite. Experts say you should never burn laminate flooring because, along with natural wood, laminate flooring contains many modern chemicals that can become extremely dangerous when burned.
In short: You should never burn laminate flooring. It is not safe to burn. Here is why.
Dangerous to Burn
When added to a fire, laminate flooring is highly flammable. It is a mixture of natural wood fibers, resin, glue, and chemicals. The flammability of laminate flooring is a bad thing. It makes it so that people think they can burn their laminate flooring when they really should not. Burning laminate flooring has the potential to release extremely dangerous chemicals into the air that are toxic to breathe.
All of the other components in laminate flooring that are not wood can be harmful if burned. That includes the resins, the glues, and the aluminum oxide coating present in most laminates. The reason you shouldn’t burn laminate flooring is the same reason you shouldn’t burn plastic. You never know what is going to come out.
One of the worst things that are produced when you burn laminate flooring is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is best known as an embalming agent used to preserve dead things. When it is burned and turned into a gas, it is highly toxic and can cause a range of terrible side effects.
Potential Side Effects & Health Effects
The potential effects of breathing in the chemicals produced by incinerating laminate flooring are wide ranging and can be severe. The most common side effects are skin irritation, eye irritation, and throat irritation. It can also cause inflammation of the sinuses and the lining of your nose. All of this can be extremely uncomfortable. Inflammation and irritation from a harmful gas or smoke can cause coughing or wheezing.
Prolonged or repeated exposure to burning formaldehyde and other industrial chemicals can even lead to cancer in rare but devastating cases. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. The chemical remains safely trapped in the flooring during normal use, but it gets released into the air when laminate flooring is burned. It is unlikely that you can get cancer from one fire, but if you are someone who burns laminate flooring (and other waste) on a regular basis, you are at an increased risk for the worst side effects.
Other Ways to Dispose of Laminate Flooring
There are safer ways to dispose of old laminate flooring other than burning it. Here are some methods you can take to avoid breathing in toxic chemicals.
The most straightforward method is to use your local waste collection avenues. You can call and schedule a bulk pickup of construction leftovers with your garbage hauler. You can also load up the flooring yourself into a truck or trailer and take it straight to the local dump. Check your local laws and regulations. There might be fees involved with disposing of laminate flooring at the curb or at the dump.
Junk Removal Service
If you can’t transport the laminate flooring or can’t get your waste collection agency to pick it up, you can hire a junk removal service to come and do it for you. While these services cost money, paying a little extra is better than potentially breathing in formaldehyde around a bonfire. There are various types of junk removal, but they will all be happy to take your call and come collect your old laminate flooring.
Some manufacturers participate in floor recycling programs. Since most of the volume in laminate flooring is wood fibers, some companies can break down old floors and reuse them as new floors. You can’t just throw these planks into your recycling bin. Look up to see if your laminate floor manufacturer will recycle old laminates. Sometimes they will, and sometimes they will even come and pick it up for you.
Lastly, if the floors are in decent shape, you can always reuse them. There are various different ways to reuse laminate flooring, from building an outdoor shed to using them as a countertop or tabletop. There are plenty of creative ways to reuse your old laminate flooring that does not involve burning it. Check online for some inspiration, ideas, and plans.
You should never burn laminate flooring if at all possible. The resulting smoke can be extremely toxic and lead to some adverse side effects. Instead of burning laminate flooring, you should look to get it removed locally, recycle it or reuse it in another project.
Featured Image Credit: Lubo Ivanko, Shutterstock