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Aging in Place: What are the Best Flooring Options?

According to recent surveys, nearly 90% of adults prefer to age in place rather than move to an assisted living community or nursing home (Today’s Homeowner). If that sounds like you, now’s the time to think of savvy home modifications – like accessible flooring options – that can help make that goal a reality.

Some of the most common reasons for wanting to remain at home include:

  • Maintaining independence
  • Affordable living costs
  • Having a home that’s paid off
  • Remaining in the same community and neighborhood
  • Proximity to friends and routine social activities
  • Emotional attachment to the house, belongings, and – of course – pets

All these make sense, but wanting to remain in place isn’t enough. It requires thoughtful, forward-thinking planning to make it happen.

Universal Design: Top Flooring Options For Lifetime Accessibility

The Today’s Homeowner post also highlights that many of the people surveyed didn’t currently have universal design features in their homes, making it harder for them to continue aging in place. To do that, homes should adhere to specific tenets called universal – or accessible – design.

Universal design tenets include things like:

  • Flooring options that prevent falls, soften landings, and are easy to traverse with mobility aids (canes, walkers, wheelchairs)
  • A ground-floor level that includes a living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom
  • Grab bars in baths/showers and toileting areas
  • Accessways that are wide enough for a wheelchair or walker (doorways, halls, and around dining areas or kitchen appliances)
  • Minimizing trip/fall hazards
  • Door knobs and cabinet/drawer pulls that are easy to grip
  • And so on

Implementing accessible features into a home remodel is about more than just creating a safe house in which to age. Your home also becomes more welcoming for family members, friends, and neighbors of all ages and physical abilities.

Hard or Low-Profile Flooring Is Best for Aging in Place

Flooring design for aging in place is primarily focused on minimizing slip and trip hazards and accommodating walkers or wheelchairs. Ease of maintenance is also a consideration, so we focus on flooring that is easy to clean after a spill or break.

Therefore, our recommendations listed below are all hard-surface flooring or carpet with a very low profile.

Examples of Safe Flooring Choices for All Ages

We want to emphasize that choosing flooring that minimizes slip, trip, or fall accidents is essential. These accidents are the most common cause of injuries requiring long-term rehabilitation stays or a family-driven transitions into an assisted living community for adults 65 years and older.

Here are some of the best flooring options for individuals or couples who want to design a home that accommodates them now and into the future, regardless of what age-related changes may take place.

1. Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl is among our top recommendations for adults or seniors looking to revamp their homes. While tile is gorgeous, it’s also an ultra-hard surface that is less forgiving when it comes to falls or when you drop something breakable. Luxury vinyl, on the other hand, has all of the benefits of tile while being softer and warmer.

Luxury vinyl manufacturers have done a remarkable job making vinyl products that look just like natural stone. If you’re a slate, marble, or granite flooring fan, we recommend looking into luxury vinyl options instead. The detail and texture are incredible, and we guarantee you’ll find patterns you love.

2. Vinyl “Wood” Planks

These technically fall into the luxury vinyl category, but we’re giving them their own category here. Just like vinyl can be made to replicate stone, top vinyl manufacturers also make vinyl that looks like wood. Today’s faux-wood vinyl planks are a far cry from the rolls of obviously fake vinyl we rolled out onto floors back in the 1980s and 90s.

Now, they make vinyl “planks” that mimic any hardwood flooring you can think of. The planks are highly detailed and textured. And because they’re cut just like planks, they look like natural wood. When our customers have friends and family over, they laugh at how their guests get down on their hands and knees to feel the planks because they can’t believe they’re not “real” wood.

Again, as with other types of luxury vinyl, engineered planks are softer and warmer than wood due to the vinyl material and the soft flooring underlayment beneath them. You can also ask us about extra underlayment options – like Coretec Plus – which increases the cushioning underneath without compromising vinyl flooring performance.

3. Non-Slip Laminate 

If you’ve had laminate in the past, you know it can be slippery. However, we recommend asking your flooring professional about non-slip laminate flooring options.

These products provide all of the benefits of laminate flooring. They:

  • Look and feel like wood
  • Come in a wide range of wood finishes and grain patterns.
  • Are softer than actual hardwood (with a soft underlayment that makes them more forgiving)
  • Have waterproof options
  • Are easy to clean and maintain

However, non-slip versions help to prevent slip accidents. FYI: Despite their waterproof and non-slip qualities, we typically steer clients away from using laminate floors in bathrooms where standing water is more of a constant.

4. Low-profile Carpet

Carpet is our third favorite flooring option for aging in place. The caveat here is that the higher the carpet profile, the harder it is to move across if you ever need a walker or wheelchair. We recommend using a low-profile or Berber-style carpet with high-quality stain protection.

For homeowners focusing on aging in place, we typically recommend using carpet in the bedrooms or your favorite living room space, but choosing a harder surface for kitchens, hallways, and bathrooms. That way, you have the warmest and softest surfaces in the “cozy zones” and flooring that’s easy to traverse and clean in the “working rooms” and more heavily trafficked areas.

Do you have pets? That’s no problem. We’ll show you pet-friendly carpeting options that don’t catch on pet paws and claws and are easy to clean up after the inevitable accidents.

Additional Flooring Considerations For Aging in Place

There are some other things to think about when choosing flooring that supports aging in place:

  • Fewer flooring options are best to minimize the threshold/transitions between rooms (a common trip hazard).
  • Minimize or avoid using area rugs. If you do use them, ensure they’re low profile and that all edges and corners are firmly secured to the floor below. Even if you don’t use a walker/wheelchair, older adults are more prone to dragging or shuffling their feet, making area rugs a trip risk.
  • Keep floors clean, dry, and clutter-free at all times. Hiring someone for weekly light housekeeping is a great idea if you don’t have someone already.
  • Never wear socks on hard-surface floors unless they have anti-slip bottoms. It’s better to wear slippers with rubber soles to prevent slipping.

Creative Floors is Here to Help You Select Your Future Floors

The team at Creative Floors is here to help you select the best future floors for your home.

Contact us to schedule an in-person design consultation in our showroom, or take advantage of our in-home option, where we bring the flooring options to you. We’ll help you select stylish flooring that suits your lifestyle today, tomorrow, and for many years to come.