Are you remodeling a home with aging in place in mind? Do you have a family member with a disability, and finding friendly flooring isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity?
Before you make your final purchase, there are a few things in mind.
ADA and flooring
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a ruling that went into effect in the 1990s that guarantees equal opportunity accommodations for people with disabilities. The standards created through this act apply to all building materials, including flooring. The ADA states flooring should be:
- Slip resistant – there should be adequate traction for wheelchairs and other mobility devices to gain a firm grip on the floor without slipping or skidding
- Firmness – the flooring should dent or compress from the weight of the mobility device
- Stability – it shouldn’t slip, slide, detach, or fold as one moves over it
- Smoothness – it shouldn’t be bumpy or uneven, or cause hurdles that are difficult to navigate
- Softness – it should provide give in the case of falls or accidents
When creating a space for aging in place, it’s important to consider many different options. Some people may need assistance walking and do well with the air of a cane or walker. Others may require full-time assistance from a wheelchair.
Aging in place is about ensuring you have the products and materials in place to ensure transitions. Focus on:
- Ease of movement – ensure you can walk or roll freely from one room to the next without bumpy transitions of loose material that can be a tripping hazard.
- Cushion for potential falls – falling is the number one risk of injury for people as they age. To ensure cushion, pay attention to both subfloor and flooring.
- Ease of maintenance – choosing the right flooring also means creating an environment that’s easy to clean and maintain with little effort.
- Comfort – at the end of the day, flooring should create an environment you want to live in. Choose the right flooring that gives you the base you need as well as the looks that allow you to call your house a home.
What disability friendly flooring choices should you consider?
With so many different types of materials on the market today, there are a variety of choices that can suit your needs.
For wheelchair use, tile is considered one of the best choices on the market for a number of reasons.
Tile is hard and durable, meaning it won’t change or wear with a lot of use. They come in a wide variety of sizes, styles, and textures, so that you can optimize your living quarters for better traction. The ideal tile surface would have a grain or stone texture, rather than a smooth surface that would be a little more slippery. Smaller tiles also provide more opportunities for grout lines, offering traction for better grip for wheels.
But what’s good for wheelchairs might not make it the best choice for other mobility disabilities. Smaller tiles with more grout lines can create a tripping hazard for people with canes and walkers.
Tile is also one of the hardest surfaces available. Tile won’t give in a fall, meaning there’s a greater chance of injury.
Today’s vinyl is growing in popularity because of its good looks and easy maintenance. You can find vinyl in many different styles – sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl planks, and luxury vinyl tiles. They create a sturdy, level surface area that supports disability friendly flooring options in all kinds of situations. If you go with a commercial-grade, it’s designed to stand up in all kinds of situations, and can make a good addition to a home where walkers and wheelchairs are in constant contact with the floor.
With sheet vinyl, a wear mark or tear might mean replacing the entire floor. With newer options, such as luxury vinyl planks, you can replace smaller spaces to avoid the expense of replacing the entire living space. It’s available in a variety of colors and patterns, and can mimic anything from stone to tile to wood, giving you both aesthetics as well as functionality.
Laminate gives a homeowner the look and feel of real hardwood with more durability as well as ease of maintenance. It can be a great candidate for flooring when mobility issues are a part of your daily living.
What’s more, laminate is also budget-friendly, meaning it’s easier on the wallet when you decide to make a change inside your home.
Laminate comes with a rating scale known as the Abrasion Class (AC) to help you determine how much wear and tear it can handle. Err on the side of heavy use, selecting heavy residential or even commercial grade ratings when you’re selecting the flooring materials. A rating of at least an AC3 will give you maximum efficiency for moderate traffic at the commercial level, and will have more properties to resist scuffing and scratching, as well as regular wear and tear.
Hardwood remains at the top of homeowner’s wishlists. To ensure the flooring you install handles well in all kinds of situations, engineered hardwood may be the perfect choice for your needs. Engineered wood comes with a real hardwood veneer that makes it tough enough to handle all kinds of traffic, including wheelchairs and walkers. Its grain texture provides some traction and slip-resistance as well.
When choosing an engineered hardwood floor, look to the Janka rating to help select a hardwood species that will do well under pressure. This rating gives you an indication of the hardness of the wood species, with woods like oak, hickory, and maple being higher up the list. This makes them more durable than softer woods like pine, will hold up better over time against things like scuffs and dents.
Low pile carpet
For many homeowners, carpet is still up high on their wishlists. It makes a great choice for both softness and warmth. Yet for mobility issues, it’s important to select a carpet that isn’t too thick or plus, and that won’t resist when wheelchairs move across it.
Avoid carpets thicker than ½ inch and look for something shorter, commercial-grade, with compact fibers. Avoid a thick carpet pad as well as this will show more wear over time.
Ensure it is glued or tacked into place, so it doesn’t move and bunch up as a wheelchair passes over it. You should never use peel and stick tiles as they aren’t strong enough to hold up over time.
What’s your choice for a disability friendly flooring?