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Subflor and Dricore

Subflor and Dricore floating floors are made with waferboard using a phenolic binder and wax, which acts as a water repellent… Read more
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  • Some products help us use other products or materials more efficiently. For example, drywall clips allow the elimination of corner studs, engineered stair stringers reduce lumber waste, and concrete pigments and polishing systems can turn concrete slabs into attractive finished floors. We also recognize some products, like vacuum plumbing systems, which use less material than their conventional counterparts. Many products with this attribute are fairly unique, so we bring a skeptical eye to manufacturer claims, but not a specific standard.

  • Moisture brings durability and air quality problems with it, and myriad green products are designed to manage it and keep it out. Given the variety of products available, we look for those that meet key performance standards and that make sense in a whole building assembly—such as vapor-permeable weather-resistive barriers that not only prevent moisture from entering the building envelope but also allow drying when the envelope gets wet.

  • Background noise, whether from indoor or outdoor sources, adds to stress and discomfort, and poor acoustical design inside can exacerbate problems from background noise and reverberation of sounds. Products that absorb sound and prevent sound transmission can be considered green, although there are so many such products available that we also look for especially innovative products, as well as products with additional green attributes such as recycled content and strong energy performance. We also look for sound-masking systems with exceptional performance characteristics.

Brent Ehrlich
Products Editor

Subflor and Dricore floating floors are made with waferboard using a phenolic binder and wax, which acts as a water repellent. An integral HDPE bottom layer has 5/16” corrugations to allow moisture drainage and some airflow. Though designed for installation over concrete slabs, their sound-attenuating properties provide an appropriate flooring system for many applications. These interlocking tongue-and-groove products require no nails or glue. Subflor and Dricore are the same product, but the brand name varies depending on the distributor.

Using underlayment products beneath wood, tile, resilient flooring, or carpet and carpet cushion provides a level surface and helps insulate floors from sound transmission and, to a limited extent, heat loss.

Cork rolls and sheets can provide resilience to the floor system with significantly less thickness than fiberboard products or a gypsum-cement poured-in-place slab. And use of a sound-deadening underlayment below a hard-surface floor can reduce the need to further control sound transmission with carpeting or rugs.

Plywood is often required as an underlayment for resilient flooring, ceramic tiles, and carpeting; and exterior-grade particleboard can also be used is some applications. Some products combine the functions of subfloor and underlayment in one product, minimizing resource use. Lauan or other tropical wood based products should be avoided unless FSC-certified.

Environmentally preferable materials for flooring underlayment listed by GreenSpec include natural cork, strawboard, products that are inherently moisture- and mold-resistant, and products with recycled content. Preference is given to no-added-formaldehyde (NAF) products, but no-added-urea-formaldehyde (NAUF) particleboards and plywoods also have very low formaldehyde emissions.

Ratings and Commentary

Dricore - not really a green product - Formaldehyde

Hi John,

MSDSs are notoriously confusing. The formaldehyde levels on DriCore's MSDS look like they are the regulatory limits for ACGIH and OSHA and not the tested values of this product.

The reason might be as follows. The core of Dricore is OSB, and OSB typically uses a phenol formaldehyde (PF) resin. OSB is exempt from CARB formaldehyde regulations (so they are not tested individually) because CARB deemed the emissions are typically so low as to be nearly indistinguishable from background sources. Note, PF is different than urea formaldehyde (UF) used in some composite woods and is the resin of choice for most sheathing products used outside the building envelope because of its moisture resistance.

Dricore is also impregnated with wax, which should further reduce any offgassing. You mention that you use engineered hardwood flooring on top of the Dricore. Do you know what the binder is in that flooring or what the finish is? Engineered hardwood often uses PF or UF resins along with polyurethane finishes that offgas, so that could be contributing to the IAQ problem, especially if there is limited ventilation.

I'm sorry to hear about the IAQ problems and though I doubt Dricore is the source, I have called the company to find out if they have specific emissions data. I'll will let you know what I find out.

Thanks for the feedback!


Dricore - not really a green product - Formaldehyde

I used Dricore as a subfloor for my engineered hardwood on a concrete slab. Very easy to install, delivered warmer floors as promised, but it off-gassed formaldehyde for 3 years. We didn't feel well with it. I can't imagine how it can be listed as a green product. Look at the MSDS on the manufacturer's website.

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