Parents of children who use wheelchairs or other mobility-assisting devices should be aware that appropriate flooring choices can make a home more accessible. Many appreciate flooring materials that are known to be durable and easy to clean when living with children with special needs. Some of the choices available may be perfectly suitable in children’s rooms, living rooms and family rooms.
There are many different types of flooring but some, like thick carpet, are a hindrance for those using wheelchairs. One will want to ensure that there flooring chosen is firm and that there is a flat transition between rooms to make it easier to move about the layout of a home. Typically, flooring that is best suited for wheelchairs include hardwood, ceramic tile and some laminate finishes.
Flooring Considerations for Homes with Wheelchairs
When exploring flooring options, answer the following questions:
- Is the surface easy to clean?
- How slippery can the floor become and can it become a safety hazard when wet?
- Is the flooring considered to be durable?
Families with a child using a wheelchair may have different flooring options available to them, depending on the requirements of their child and their budget.
Hardwood flooring, in the form of planks and strips, is a common choice for families that need a durable and firm surface for mobility-assisting devices. Opt of a harder wood, such as maple, cherry or hickory or explore commercial grade laminate flooring. Avoid softer woods such as pine when it comes to flooring. Those who need an inexpensive option may prefer to go with laminate flooring.
Those with power chairs and who need a floor with durability and traction may want to look into ceramic tiles. Tiles should usually be no larger than 2 inches square for optimal traction.
Those who do want to have carpeting in a home should select a short fiber carpet and minimal padding. This will provide better traction to a wheelchair. Commercial-grade carpets may offer better stain resistance than regular carpeting.
Getting Financial Assistance Toward Home Modifications
Parents can learn more about flooring options and installation requirements when speaking with a professional floor installer. In addition, it may be possible to reduce costs associated with adaptive flooring and home modification. Parents or guardians may want to explore the grants available for home modification to improve home accessibility, with resources including:
- Two grants available from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that may be useful for modifying an existing home or be used toward a new home.
- Assistance in modifying homes from Rebuilding Together AmeriCorps.
- The Think Alive Grant helps children in accomplishing goals with funds to be used toward a minor home modification.
- The Self-sufficiency Grant from ModestNeeds.org helps families who can benefit from assistance but are not “low-income” households.
Additional grants and resources may be available through state and local agencies, local Elk and Lions Clubs chapters. Assistance for home modification is not only available for children with disabilities, but also for seniors and veterans. Read over the requirements of any grant in order to determine eligibility.
Ryan Tollefsen is the founder and team leader of Unity Home Group. Ryan believes the right home can make a world of difference for any household, and that accessibility should be a first priority when finding or creating a place to live.