ADA: Cost-Effective Bathroom Flooring that is Slip-Resistant and Is 'Soft' so Falls aren't as Dangerous.

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.
In my quest for designing a safe bathroom I search for a slip-resistant flooring, that can handle a wet environment, is 'forgiving' if someone falls and of course looks good.  After asking several experts and research this is what I have found:

The factors I evaluated were:
  • Friction coefficient.**
  • Maintenance.
  • Available colors/styles.
  • Can it be installed over radiant heating.
  • Cost per square foot.
Below is a table that summarizes my findings with details regarding each flooring type under the table.

Friction coefficient
Can be installed over radiant heating?
Cost per square foot for materials and installation.
Altro Aquarius Flooring

Heavy duty vinyl.
Dry: .88
Wet: 1.03

Easy to clean.


Stain resistant.
Many colors.

Altro also offers a variety of ‘safety’ vinyl for commercial or residential.
Easy to clean.

Bacteriostat technology.

Stain resistant.
$5.82 per square foot
Armstrong Cushion Vinyl
Unable to find.
Stain resistant.
Maintenance free.
Bacteria resistant.
Good selection of styles and colors, mostly wood or tile look alikes.
Available in 12’ vinyl sheets.
Love the cushion idea especially for people prone to falls.
25-year warranty.
To install yourself:  $5.65-$6.91 per sq. ft.
Professional Installation: $8.28$10.13 per sq. ft.
Dry: .4
Wet: 1.2

Standing water will damage cork, not recommended with wet rooms/roll-in showers.

Large dogs can scratch surface.

Will need to occasionally refinish floor.
Many styles as well as planks, floating floors or tiles available.
Looks good.

Mildew resistant.
Medium grade $5.44 per square foot.

Carpet tile.
Unknown but probably quite high.
Easy to replaced if stained.

Longer dry time.

Easy to clean.

Bath mats are recommended.
Unlimited style and colors, suggest thinner, harder, synthetic fibers.
Looks good, tiles can be replaced if stained.

Easy to install.
Medium grade:
$3.57 per square foot.
Indoor/outdoor carpet.
Unknown but probably quite high.
Easy to clean and if laid over existing tile is easy to throw away and replace.
Many colors and styles available.
Easy to install over existing flooring and removable.
Medium grade:  $2.32 per square foot
Smart Cell predominantly mats but can be installed under vinyl flooring to cushion falls.
Wet:  .99

Easy to clean and can be used over existing floors.
Limited colors and styles available.
Anti-fatigue for caregivers.

Provide soft landing for falls.
$20.00-$30.00 per square foot.
Softtec tiles
Wet: .99

Easy to clean.

Stain and mildew resistant.


Easy to install.
Limited styles and colors available.
Softer surface for falls, comfortable for bare feet.
Subfloor to be installed under vinyl.
Unlimited vinyl choices to be installed over this subflooring.
Reduces injury from falls.
Tarkett Granit Multisafe Plus
Wet: .6


Stain resistant.

Easy to clean.
12 colors to choose from.
Made for wetrooms.
Easy to clean.
Many styles and colors.
Many styles and colors
Yes, most.
High grade: $4.62 per square foot

Remember:  Coefficient of Friction: Wet/Dry
The skid resistance scale is used to determine the degree of slippage of a surface. While assessing different surfaces, wet and dry conditions along with the speed of the subject are monitored. Also, the required force to move that subject and the angle of the place are considered too. The following are the three categories slip resistant categories:

  • Slip Resistant: Coefficient of friction is 0.60 or greater (wet). Meets or exceeds general safety and health regulations, ADA and OSHA requirements.
  • Conditionally Slip Resistant: Coefficient of friction is 0.50 to 0.59 (wet). Meets or exceed general safety and health regulations and OSHA requirements.
  • Questionable: Coefficient of friction less than 0.50

Altro Aquarius-Vinyl:

Altro Aquarius™ – perfect for wet and dry, shoe and barefoot use

The latest technological breakthrough from Altro brings you a safety flooring for combined shoe and barefoot use. This evolution is not just for soft soled shoe use, but any, including hard soled, rubber and trainers; making it perfect for a host of applications.
Achieving a SCoF rating of 0.88 Dry and 1.03 Wet when tested against ASTM D 2047 Altro Aquarius provides optimum slip resistance in wet and dry environments.  This innovation revolutionizes product selection for potentially wet areas. It takes away the uncertainty of how and where to specify and install safety flooring for mixed barefoot and shoe use.  When combined with Altro Whiterock wall systems, Aquarius helps prevent water penetration from floor to ceiling by creating an impervious water-tight solution.

Aquarius also includes Altro Maxis Easyclean PUR technology, the same superior stain resistance found in Altro Suprema, for maximum resistance to staining and chemicals.


Swan AQI2012 Altro Swan, many other colors available.

Armstrong Cushionstep Vinyl Sheet Flooring:

Armstrong Cushionstep Best Sheet Vinyl Flooring delivers comfort, style and flexibility. It’s warm and soft underfoot has a CushionCore™ backing, which brings an unexpected level of comfort to your floor. 

Cushionstep Best floors are constructed with the award-winning MasterWorks Technology® with VTx™. This exclusive technology creates visually realistic floor designs that have a textured coating for an incredibly natural feel. 

The Best floors in this collection also have the CleanSweep® G wear layer with antimicrobial protection for superior stain protection. This special CleanSweep wear layer guards against stain and odor-causing bacteria on the flooring surface. 


 Warm and soft, cork floors make a very comfortable flooring surface for a bathroom. However, we recommend you take certain precautions because of the high risk of spillage. Floating floor is not recommended for bathrooms, only tiles should be used. After installation, it is important to caulk the perimeter of the room, prior to installing molding or baseboard. This will prevent spills from damaging the sub-floor or walls. An additional protection layer should be applied to completely seal the joints.

When asking around I got an overwhelmingly positive response regarding cork in the bathroom. There are many different styles available, very good looking but not recommended for standing water.  With most of my clients standing water happens and cleaning isn't so easy, so cork may not be the best choice for my clientele.  Cork should not be used in bathrooms with roll-in showers.

Cork planks.

Cork colors.

Carpet squares:

Carpet squares were suggested particularly if they've been treated with an antimicrobial treatment.  Mr. Walter who suggested these carpet squares cited a case study Cynthia Leibrock presented of a nursing home where she carpeted the bathrooms.  She went back after use and took bacterial cultures and the carpet squares came back clean.  She complimented the maintenance staff and they admitted they hadn't even shampoo'd them.  Mr. Walter also points out that with the squares you could easily replaced stained squares as needed.

The friction coefficient is not measured for carpet but I would guess the friction coefficient would be quite high.

What is the best type of carpet to use in the bathroom?

All types of carpet are made from fibers of some kind, so they are naturally inclined to soak up spills and splashes. As a general rule, when it comes to carpet fibers, more plush and natural fibers such as wool retain the most moisture, while synthetic fibers such as nylon retain the least. Therefore, thinner, harder, synthetic fibers will be the most advantageous for use in the bathroom.

What is the best carpet tile to purchase if a homeowner wants to install it themselves?

One excellent option is FLOR tiles, because they are easy to install and bathroom-friendly. FLOR tiles are simply modular carpet tiles that come in roughly 20” sections and can be mixed and matched to form any design.
Moreover, these carpet tiles can easily be removed, cleaned, or replaced—a big advantage for bathroom installations. Better yet, they utilize a non-toxic adhesive that sticks to the bottom of each tile—not to the floor—so DIY installation is a snap. FLOR tiles are also low-VOC for added health.

Also, FLOR carpet tiles are made out of environmentally friendly materials.

Indoor/Outdoor Carpet:

Great temporary alternative to replacing a floor and not too expensive, it's about $63.00 for a 5 x 7 piece of carpet, it's an awfully affordable for-the-time-being, cozy alternative. For someone who needs increased friction coefficient but does not have the money to replace the flooring or is renting, indoor/outdoor carpet can be put down and removed easily.

Many different styles and colors of indoor/outdoor carpet.
Tile floor bathroom with indoor/outdoor carpet laid on top.


-->Smart cells are predominantly mats but there are many options for use.  When I contacted the manufacturer regarding a slip-resistant bathroom floor they recommended a slip resistant sheet vinyl from ALTRO over the SmartCells cushioning system and have it go wall to wall and provide a finished floor appearance with a subfloor ramp at the door.  This would cost in the range of $30-40 per sq ft.

If the flooring doesn't go under the toilet or cabinetry so it will be less than installing on the entire floor.  The other option is to go with a SmartCells surface mat with a slip resistant finish and have it go in and around the fixtures / cabinets only where you need it.  It would be removable and comes in a limited number of colors.  It would be less costly and probably in the range of $20-30 per sq ft. 


  • Stable surface prevents loss of balance
  • Stays in place for standing, walking, wheeling and transferring.
  • Low profile reduces tripping—only 1/2” high.
  • Improves control of infection—will not absorb liquid.
  • Supports wheeled objects.
  • Secure anti-fatigue protection for caregivers.
  • 8 Year Warranty.

    How it Works:


    SmartCells® Anti-Fatigue products have a "resting state" much like a non-compressed spring, with a natural, supportive upright force that provides a compressible, soft surface that is also stable and supportive.


    SmartCells® Anti-Fatigue Products compress and absorb pressure / impact energy from standing, weight-shifting, walking or the impact of a fall.  After reaching a “critical threshold” the cellular structures soften and collapse laterally, without bottoming out.  SmartCells® get softer as force is applied and remain in this cushioned “sweet spot” for as long as the pressure remains.

    SmartCell Mat

     SoftTec Tiles:

    SoftTec Tiles’ slip-resistance is superior to conventional flooring surfaces. The secret is in our patented closed-cell technology. Each tile is stable like concrete, soft like foam, and 100% resistant to moisture. Should a fall occur, SoftTec’s grounded cushioning is there to catch you, reducing the risk of injury. 

    SoftTec Tiles outperform traditional tiles or concrete by being:
    • Slip Resistant
    • Soft and gentle on the feet
    • Waterproof
    • Chemical-resistant
    • Flexible & lightweight
    • Easy to install

    Softtec tile flooring
    • Pattern Selection guide

      © 2009 SoftTec Products | 4416 Sunbelt Drive | Addison, TX 75001 | Call Toll Free (888) 436 5404


    SorbaSHOCK is a subflooring that should be installed by a flooring professional.  SorbaSHOCK is a 2'x 2' dual thickness underlayment made to reduce injury from falls.

    SorbaSHOCK’s™ unique patent-pending Dual-Stiffness™ design is the key to its success in providing unprecedented impact force reduction, while not interfering with normal walking activities or the translation of rolling devices such as wheelchairs or carts.
    SorbaSHOCK™ maintains its inherent rigidity under normal walking forces through a network of specially-designed columns, which then buckle, deform, and dissipate energy in a controlled manner when impact (and the larger associated forces) occurs. Thus, with SorbaSHOCK™, there is no induced trip hazard that can occur with floors that are cushioned or floors that do not employ Dual-Stiffness™ technology.


     Tarkett Granit Multisafet Plus:

    Granit Multisafe is a special flooring for wet areas, designed for better safety underfoot. The flooring’s construction provides a good grip for feet even when the floor is slippery with soap and water. The dense, impermeable surface and the well-rounded studs means Granit Multisafe is hygienic and easy to clean. It is recommended for barefoot areas only.

    Tarkett Granit Multisafe Plus tile


    Obviously vinyl comes in a variety of prices, styles, and friction coefficients.  Be careful when buying vinyl for the bathroom to be certain the friction coefficient is a minimum of .60 or greater.

    Most of the commercial vinyl flooring is skid resistant and there are many styles and colors to choose from.  Basically the vinyl should be textured, smooth vinyl is usually slippery when wet.  CHECK THE FRICTION COEFFICIENT!!

    Commercial Vinyl

    Commercial Vinyl
    Special thanks to all the LinkedIn experts who contributed their knowledge to this issue.

    Anymore ideas, please post.


    Jennifer Eckel said...

    What a nice compilation! Thank you for posting - I was just asked for suggestions last week. Your research will be most helpful.

    Karen K Koch said...

    Thanks Jennifer, but the credit goes to everyone in LinkedIn who made the suggestions. Thank you all for sharing your expertise.

    Al Shelley said...

    Thank you Jennifer. As the manufacturer of SmartCells fall protection flooring and mats, I offer a few additions / corrections:
    1. SmartCells can be installed over radiant flooring
    2. colors: unlimited when installed as subfloor under sheet vinyl
    3. price: the range is $15-$25 depending on choice of surface vinyl
    4. SmartCells are more effective at 1/2" thick than comparative material that are 2-4 x thicker
    5. SmartCells are loose laid (no glue down), and can be easily removed
    Al Shelley
    SATECH, Inc.

    Karen K Koch said...

    Thank you Al, I appreciate you filling in the gaps of information. If you'd like to write a post for the blog on SmartCells I would love to showcase your flooring.

    mike stathos said...

    If you are pretty sure about the activity you are going to perform and have all set with the required tools, you would bring a good anecdote followed by of the main things we needed to do in our house was to improve the lighting situation in all of the rooms.
    bathroom remodelling Austin

    Mason Perez said...

    It's really a great information for me and after reading this blog, I know many information and fact about the flooring. I like to use cork flooring which is shown in the table because cork floors have the many benefits and maintenance also easy.