Remodeling your home to make it a safe place to live for every member of your family? Choosing a flooring material that is both safe and secure for a family member in a wheelchair can be tricky.
There are many things you should avoid:
- High transitions from room to room
- Slippery surfaces
- Loose carpeting or rugs
Durability is also an issue, as wheelchairs are heavy and can quickly wear down some flooring choices.
Hardwoods and Laminates
Hardwoods are a great choice throughout your home. Not only are they ADA-compliant, but attractive and in high demand. When choosing hardwood, make sure you pay attention to the hardness of the wood. Softwoods such as pine and fir dent easily, while hardwoods such as maple and hickory can sustain the bumps and marks of daily wheelchair traffic.
Laminates are also a good choice. Because laminates are manufactured and produced to be harder than most woods, they can sustain a good deal of traffic before showing wear. It resists dents and scuff marks come off easily without marring the finish.
Ceramic tiles are water resistant, which makes them good options in both the kitchen and the bathroom. However, large tiles are fragile and crack easier under the weight of a wheelchair. If choosing ceramic tiles, pay attention to the slipperiness factor of the tile, and choose smaller tiles around two inches square. This provides a small enough size to be durable, without creating potential grout issues for both scuffing and cleaning problems.
Vinyl is water resistant choice that’s perfect for the bathroom and kitchen. It’s less expensive and easier to install, meaning it’s also easier to replace on a more frequent basis. Pay attention to the slip resistant factor, as different types of vinyl are more appropriate for being ADA-compliant. Also, be careful of luxury vinyl that provides too much cushion to be durable under the weight of daily wheelchair traffic.
Thin pile carpeting is also slip resistant. Thick carpets are difficult to navigate in a wheelchair, and shouldn’t be used in main traffic areas. If you are using carpeting, make sure the maximum pile length is ½ inch. Shorter pile makes propelling the wheelchair easier. Also, make sure it is firmly attached to the subfloor to avoid slippage, where ripples can form and cause movement problems.