what kind of floors with wheelchair

ithinkican_2007January 22, 2007

We need some advice. We are in the middle of a MAJOR whole house remodel and getting serious about the flooring to use. Our issue...our daughter lives with us and is a 'quad' big power wheelchair user and has a golden retreiver service dog. We keep the dog's nails trimmed and filed smooth but the wheelchair is sort of like having a miniature car in the house. At our old house, we had red oak, real hardwood floors with four coats of moisture cure. The wheelchair entry was the not covered and she entered into the living room from a ramped deck. Sometimes she would bring in enough soil and mud on her tires after being in the yard we could swear that peas would grow in our living room. When we sold last fall, the floors still looked beautiful after 7 years of hard living. (Now she enters the house through the garage to pantry to kitchen then future hardwood.) We like heavy 'lineoleum' or vinyl for the kitchen and bathrooms. It has worked well in the past and surely will continue to. We are taking up slippery shiny white ceramic tile in the kitchen (doesn't work with the dog or with the potential of injury if she falls and ohmygod the dirt!) So we think we should probably do red oak hardwood/moisture cure again in everything but the kitchen and baths. We're being told and reading that the prefinished hardwood floors are actually even more durable than unfinished due to aluminum oxide finish. And prefinished is beveled...we at first thought the bevel would be a bad thing but when we think about it, maybe it would be good if some of the small junk that falls from her chair and is on the floor until we can get it cleaned up, will actually fall into the bevel instead of staying on the flat surface. In the new finished basement we are leaning towards glueless snap lock style 'hardwood' floor. She will rarely be downstairs. She would have to go out the front garage down to the lower rear garage door via paved drive and in through that garage. Downstairs houses our business/office. Sorry for this being so long winded but would really like to hear from anyone who has any experience with wheelchair issues on floors, what kind of floors they are having success with. Anyone care to share an opinion please? Thanks.

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Nothing beats good old Vinyl Composite Tiles(VCT) That is what you will find in most hospitals and the flooring that holds up without concern, with the correct upkeep.

Second choice would be sheet goods, vinyl or linoleum.

Carpet is going to wear prematurely.

Laminate may work for awhile, but don't expect miricles once it starts micro scratching and dulling out and looking dirty all the time.

Wood, well that might work, as long as your preparred to refinish it often.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 7:48PM
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  • residential inlaid sheet vinyl (NOT standard roto-vinyl, but inlaid)

  • commercial inlaid sheet vinyl

  • vinyl composition tile

  • luxury vinyl tile and planks

  • ceramic

  • stone

  • high end laminate wood

  • high end commercial carpet tile

hardwood is a bad choice unless you dont mind periodic refinishing.

non-inlaid resilient sheet vinyl is a bad choice, because like carpeting, it will delaminate as well.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 7:03AM
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Ditto what the pros said.

I also would add that you should spend some money on some good-looking walkoff mats. A member of my family is in a wheelchair. He has no problem with the inlaid sheet vinyl in my kitchen or the commercial carpet tile on the rest of the floors. But the wheelchair can track in an amazing amount of dirt, slush, etc. I use several feet of mat at the entrance with the ramp (I use the mats that look like -- well, matted-down rubber bands) and that removes most of the dirt/sand/slush before he reaches the vinyl floor.

The house in which he lives has laminate (which looks surprisingly good for four years old, a wheelchair, a larger dog, and some distinct trafficways through the rooms) and (beveled) solid-vinyl tile in the kitchen/dinette. The kitchen tile looks bad because it's ivory-colored, but it's holding up OK.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 10:07AM
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As others have posted, not only the type of flooring, but the pattern is critical.

Go for a medium-toned, patterned, more matte finish and you'll be a lot happier. We have solid vinyl tile (Metroflor, but Amtico is even better) in a slate-look, and the amount of dirt and abuse it can hide is absolutely amazing.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 12:27PM
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We intend to build again (one day), and I have already decided that house will have top grade inlaid sheet vinyl floors, in part because of my experience with a wheelchair on hardwood floors. There are some amazingly attractive options available these days to suit any decor. The only downside, IMHO, is resale concerns, but I figure that my heirs can replace the vinyl with carpet and prefinished hardwoods in order to sell that house when the time comes.

I would not like the beveled prefinished hardwoods, as they can be a pain to clean. We had a Bruce prefinished wood floor in portions of our last house that did not handle the dog's claws well, despite our efforts to keep them trimmed, and we had to keep clear plastic chair mats at each computer desk, too.

The point made above about mats cannot be stressed enough. I found that our floors fared far better when we put a rough textured long mat outside each entry door plus a rug inside each door. My wheelchair use was temporary, but should I need one again (or permanently) I will budget for two - one for inside the house and one for outside/travel.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 6:32PM
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Great suggestions everybody...keep em coming. Thursday is my day to 'floor' shop, again. I'm printing this out to take with me. we've still got about 3 weeks before demo begins on the kitchen and about 6 weeks before downstairs office flooring is ready to put in and hoping to be finished to do upstairs floors by april. Oh yea, we checked into 'glue down' commercial carpet and the #1 thing the salesmen said was, 'it's a real b.... to remove when it has to be replaced.' They said it comes up in fist sized pieces if your lucky. As for the vinyls, i'll check them out Thursday. As for the indoor/outdoor wheelchair, we love to do that when we can...she has 3 chairs now but there always seems to be at least one in the shop for repair. (one's a push chair for emergency-she can't maneuver it herself) we're checking ebay (great place to get 'extra' chairs for another one to have on hand. We spend about $5000 a year just on wheelchair and mobility product upkeep/repair. She's tough on them, but what can we do...certainly not confine her more. We're so grateful she can do what she does. Many, many thanks.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 7:11PM
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Oh yea, we checked into 'glue down' commercial carpet [...] They said it comes up in fist sized pieces if your lucky.

Hmm ... I must have a different kind of carpet. Mine went down with a pressure-sensitive adhesive that's like sticky-note glue when it dries. I can pull up and replace tiles at will.

We spend about $5000 a year just on wheelchair and mobility product upkeep/repair. She's tough on them, but what can we do...certainly not confine her more.

I hear you. I'm amazed at how expensive wheelchairs are (new, albeit custom-fitted), yet I've left a small toolkit at my brother's place because the darn things need adjusting so often. He's hard on equipment, too. But it's not like it's intentional on his part. And wheelchair manufacturers have to know that a significant number of their customers are tough on the equipment. Makes you wonder ... (sorry, OT)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 9:46AM
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I just saw your post, so I hope you see my response.

I have similar issues to contend with. My daughter is medically fragile, has seizures, walks but falls down a lot. She spends some time in her wheelchair (although she can't operate it herself since she has cortical blindness). I'm building a house for her to spend the rest of her life, and the flooring has been the hardest decision I've had to make.

I also raise standard labradoodles for service dogs, so I've got three adults scampering around in addition to the occasional litters of puppies.

I've pretty much decided to go with the 'real' linoleum, made from linseed oil and flax seed. This stuff is incredible -- it's naturally antibacteriacidal, fire retardent, soft, you clean it with a damp mop, resistant to scratches, and it comes in a rainbow of colors. I'm looking at laying the sheet product, so I won't have a single threshold inside the house. It's appropriate for kitchens and bathrooms, there's no problem with spills or stains.

I leaned away from vinyl because of the off gassing, carpet because of the antimone that's used to make it fire retardent, tile is too hard for her to keep falling on, laminate still posed a problem with dampness and water getting between the planks, and hardwood was going to get scratched up by the dog nails.

I'm lucky -- Hannah is still young enough that Shriners has paid for both her wheelchairs so far.

I hope this helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Here's a link to the marmoleum web site

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 3:54AM
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ithinkican_2007, what did you decide on and how has it worked out?


    Bookmark   August 7, 2007 at 4:01PM
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We're having trouble deciding on a wheelchair useable floor for a mobile home...can't have very hard wood...has to be a floating floor...contractor has suggested that bamboo is too soft, would show scratches from grit too much, and said the same about the marmoleum...looking for a wool carpet, but my partner seems to have had a bad reaction to the jute of the wool carpet...

trying to do something environmentally friendly that doesn't off gas

any ideas in the next day or so would be appreciated...as we need to make a decision really tomorrow (!) oct. 9


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 12:42AM
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I also have heard and read alot of great things about marmoleum. I am from the Chicago area and there is a local show called Mr. Fix It kind of like Bob Villa and they swear by the stuff. I was surprised how nice it looks for being such an industrial strenth floor.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 11:38PM
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Best Laminate has a selection of laminate flooring that is designed to withstand wheelchair and scooter use. They offer a discount for Americans with Disabilities. http://www.bestlaminate.net/adaflooring

Here is a link that might be useful: Flooring for Wheelchairs

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 10:08AM
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