Flooring for Wheelchairs

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.
Back on my quest for the perfect flooring for wheelchairs.  I had some advice stating that commercial grade laminate was the best flooring for wheelchairs.  We installed some armstrong laminate and the results were disappointing.

Researching flooring.

The problem is everyone wants hardwood floors in the living areas and tile in the bathrooms.  Tile is actually a good choice for bathrooms but tile is not completely maintenance-free the grout needs regrouting from time to time, and tile can cause serious injuries if someone were to fall. 

So what about hardwood floors and wheelchairs?  Wheelchairs tend to wear out hardwood floors so they require refinishing or just don't look nice.  Wheelchairs are difficult to get completely dry after coming in out of the weather, and they tend to get stones in the tires which get ground into wood floors. 

So what else is out there?  An OT specializing in home modifications for accessibility and who is also an interior designer suggested vinyl planks instead of wood floors.  Someone else said that wheelchairs negated the warranty on vinyl. 

So what I'm looking for in flooring is:
  • Skid resistance rating of .60 or above.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Durable.
  • Water-resistant.
 I have loads of samples, they are different textures, colors, and different thicknesses.  Some of the samples are beautiful, some are obviously made for commercial purposes.  Commercial flooring seems like it would be the right choice for wheelchairs. 

Let the fun begin!!  If anyone has any flooring they would recommend please post.


Ashley R. said...

Hi, I have also been advised that commercial grade laminate is good for wheelchairs. What was disappointing about yours?

Karen K Koch said...

It may be due to poor installation but the laminate flooring is not holding up well to the wheelchair traffic and is buckling. I had an inspector out and he said there was a high moisture content in the house which was a contributing factor to the failure of the floor along with the wheelchair so the warranty would not be honored.:-(

Anonymous said...

So what kind of flooring did you end up going with? I've had hardwood flooring for 11 years. The wheelchair hasn't hurt the floors but our big dog has scratched it with his paws and toys. I do have to go behind the wheelchair on rainy days to wipe up any track marks but other than that the wheelchair hasn't had a negative effect on the hardwood floors. I have vinyl in her bathroom and have never had a problem with it either even with the bubble tub putting out a lot of steam. We've also had laminate and it held up well. I just didn't care for the way it looked or the sound the dog's paws made.

Karen Koch said...

We ended up installing a commercial vinyl that looked like wood by Altro. The floor turned out beautifully and has worn well. I'm glad to hear your flooring is working so well.

Hardwood from what I understand does do well but needs to be refinished more often with wheelchair use.