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Disability–Friendly Flooring – FAQs Character
presenting FAQs

Q. What is slip–resistant flooring?

A. Flooring that is referred to as "slip resistant" simply indicates that a person can comfortably move across the surface with less chance of slipping. Some slippage is necessary, especially for those who have a tendency to drag their feet or have a limited gait. A floor with too much slip resistance may actually hinder a person with a disability and make traveling very difficult. The level of slip resistance on a floor can be increased for angled surfaces. However, it's still recommended to keep friction levels low for walking and wheelchair comfort.

Q. Is there such a thing as a 100% slip–resistant surface?

A. Yes. Keep in mind that slip–resistant flooring is not the same as slip–proof. Slippage on a 100% slip–resistant surface may still occur; however, the chances are generally significantly lower than on a more slippery surface, such as sealed cement or vinyl.

Q. What are some types of non–slip floors?

A. Two popular non–slip floor surfaces are abrasive vinyl and rubber. Abrasive vinyl can last many years with little maintenance and is available in a wide variety of colors and designs. Rubber flooring is another popular choice for people with disabilities as it is hypoallergenic and requires less cleaning and maintenance than other floor types. In addition, the smooth surface of rubber flooring makes wheelchair travel a little easier while still being resilient* enough to protect those who use walkers or have aching joints.

*Resiliency is the ability of a product or material to bounce back upon impact with another object.

Q. What's the best area in the house to install disability–friendly flooring?

A. This answer is easy – everywhere. If you have trouble walking and/or use a wheelchair, you should consider putting slip–resistant flooring in your kitchen, bathroom, and shower. Avoid installing potentially slippery surfaces, such as concrete, tile and stone in water–susceptible areas, like kitchens and around bathtubs.

Rubber flooring has proven to be a popular choice in hospitals, clinics and medical facilities around the world. With a wide assortment of colors and textures to choose from, this type of flooring looks great in most household areas and can be installed with relative ease. Most importantly, rubber flooring may help make walking more comfortable.

Q. My father has a mild case of Alzheimer's. The disease makes it difficult for him to distinguish certain colors and designs, and dark patterns sometimes disorient him. Is there any floor solution for this condition?

A. Show your father samples of different floor types in various colors and patterns and see what he prefers. It's important that he finds his home flooring both familiar and comfortable. Depending on what kind of flooring your father grew up with or likes, the perfect floor for him could be linoleum, hardwood, carpet or a floor you never considered. Many facilities use bold patterns to help guide visitors through a building, with changing colors to indicate different areas and buildings. This can be a great option for a person who is memory–impaired. This strategy may not work for certain patients, so make sure that you consult a medical specialist and see if this option is right for your father. Also, if you decide to go with a more decorative surface, make sure that your father finds the colors welcoming.

Q. What other things can I do to make my home more disability–friendly?

A. In addition to installing disability–friendly flooring, you can add handrails in needed areas, widen doors, and replace steps with ramps. If you have a hearing disability, consider opening up your living space. A more open space can help you see what's going on in other areas of your home without having to go and check. People who use wheelchairs, on the other hand, can benefit from lower cabinets and countertops.