Whether you have elderly parents living with you and you’d like to invest in a quality flooring type that will be safer for their use, or you are an ageing adult renovating your forever home and wish to prepare for the years to come, this is the article for you.
We are going to look at some of the safest flooring types for seniors, including slip and fall resistance, and stair coverings. Here’s everything you need to know…
What Floors Should Seniors Avoid?
First, let’s take a look at a few flooring options that seniors should avoid altogether – particularly if they wish to minimise the overall risk of falling and potential injury:
Large rugs: laying rugs in open spaces is a bad idea. While they certainly add a wonderful aesthetic, not only do rugs slip around often, but they are more prone to bunching up and causing people to trip.
Natural stone floors: natural stone is a material that should be avoided in homes with elderly family members. The fact is, natural stone requires regular upkeep and maintenance which can be taxing on a senior. Not only that, but a hard fall on solid stone can be wholly unforgiving. Further to that, natural stone is slippery when wet and cold underfoot.
What Flooring is Best for Seniors?
Now that we have the main risk flooring out the way, let’s look at the best flooring options available for seniors:
- Rubber flooring: Rubber flooring is arguably the best flooring option for seniors due to its excellent slip-resistance – especially when wet. Rubber flooring also boasts great absorbency which means that if a senior does trip and fall, their fall will be broken and significantly less dangerous than most other hard surfaces. In addition to that, rubber flooring has cushioning and insulation underneath, providing a warmer surface that many seniors find attractive. And that’s not to mention the other great benefits such as ease of maintenance, a wide variety of colour options, and a functional yet aesthetically stunning appearance.
- Cork flooring: Cork flooring is another brilliant alternative for seniors as it is soft, provides traction, and has great shock absorption. Not only that, but cork is relatively slip-resistant and can help to lessen the severity of impact if a senior should have an accident. They can even be sealed to reduce the amount of maintenance required to look after them. Just bear in mind that cork isn’t best utilised in high-moisture areas and doesn’t have the best longevity.
- Vinyl flooring: Vinyl flooring is arguably one of the best flooring options for seniors as it comes with a host of attractive benefits. For one, vinyl is easy to maintain, it’s waterproof, and it provides great anti-slip properties even when wet. While vinyl is harder than cork and rubber, it still provides relatively good shock absorption in the event of accidents. What is most attractive of all, however, is the fact that vinyl has a seemingly endless range of styles and colour options – while remaining one of the most affordable options. So, for seniors looking to renovate on a budget, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better alternative to vinyl flooring.
- Carpet: While carpet isn’t the best for those with wheelchairs, it shouldn’t be ruled out entirely for seniors. Great carpet with quality installation can be smooth, soft, and comfortable underfoot. However, it isn’t best for hot regions as the warming cosy feel underfoot can be too much for some people in the summer. Then again, it does provide great cushioning against accidental falls. Finally, seniors with allergies or those who are unable to hoover and clean the carpet often might not find it a viable flooring solution.
What Flooring Prevents Slipping and Falling?
The best flooring types for preventing slipping and falling would be:
These flooring materials boast some of the best anti-slip properties. Not only that but in the event of an accident they do offer great shock resistance.
In any case, the very best flooring type to prevent slipping would be rubber, with cork coming up as a strong second.
Remember to avoid laying rugs down in high-traffic areas where seniors may be more prone to tripping and falling.
What is the safest floor covering for stairs?
Many people contest that carpet is by far the safest option when it comes to flooring for stairs, however, that can still pose a danger when seniors are walking around in socks or slippers. Yes, a carpeted staircase with short and dense fibres can be great as a start covering alternative, however, rubber, cork, and vinyl are also excellent options.
Should you wish to opt against carpet in favour of DIY Floorboards or another laminate-style flooring for the stairs, we recommend installing anti-slip strips. These can be cut and stuck down onto the edge of each stair, providing excellent grip underfoot and making it practically impossible to slip and fall – even if they are wet.
You should also consider having grab bars installed on the inside wall – including a good-sized banister to provide seniors with ample support when scaling and walking down the stairs. Another good senior-proofing consideration is to have lighting both at the top and bottom of the stairs so as to avoid having to walk down the stairs at night in the darkness – which we can all agree is an unnecessary risk.
All in all, rubber, cork, and vinyl are the three best flooring options for seniors. For those who are on a bit more of a budget, vinyl is a clear winner. However, for those with some extra cash to splash and who aren’t overly fussed about the aesthetics, rubber is indeed the safest in terms of anti-slip and preventing accidental damage when falling.