Home Remodeling and Allergies

Turning your house into your dream home can be a nightmare if you have allergies. Learn the hidden dangers that lie within your walls.

Are you thinking about remodeling your home, or building a new one? If so, there are several things you need to know about the impact this may have on your allergies. The dust, debris and fumes from remodeling or construction can wreak havoc on your eyes, nose and skin. Knowing about some specific hazards, however, can help you minimize the impact on your allergies.


If you are putting in new floors, consider using hardwood, vinyl, linoleum tile, or slate instead of wall-to-wall carpeting. The carpet is an ideal home for dust mites. These tiny insects are one of the worst enemies of people with allergies. Too small to be seen with the naked eye, they live inside carpeting, cushions and bedding. There they excrete waste products that cause allergic symptoms. Bare floors with small, washable area rugs are much easier to keep free of dust mites than carpeting. (See the Asthma and Allergy Answer fact sheet, "Living With Dust Mites.")

Before you install new flooring, talk to your contractor or salesperson about the type of finish that can be used if your symptoms are triggered by fumes. Hardwood floors are an ideal type of floor for persons with allergies and asthma. Still, finishing products can cause a temporary reaction to the chemicals used in the process. To lessen these effects, choose varnishes and waxes with low volatile organic compound offgassing potential (ask your paint dealer to recommend safer products) and leave the house while floors are being finished. Ventilate the house for several days. Wait until the odor is gone before returning to the house, do not just ventilate and stay in the house. If possible, have the house professionally cleaned afterward to remove sanding and dusting residue.

Furnaces and Air Filters

Although there is currently no data to support the effectiveness of air filters and their ability to rid your home of allergens, they may help. If you decide to install air filters in your furnace, a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is the most effective type of air cleaner. These filters reduce the amount of dust and other particles in the air. You can also purchase a central air filtration unit, which is expensive, or you may wish to get a portable HEPA filter unit that will filter the air in a portion of the house.

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