The Best Floor Options If You Use A Wheelchair, According To Our Flooring Expert

Accessibility in home design is all about creating an environment that's usable and comfortable to navigate for all people, especially those with disabilities who need mobility aids. For example, you can make your kitchen more accessible for a wheelchair user with simple design tricks that make it easier to reach surfaces, like lowering the counter and installing additional features to the bottom storage cabinets. Flooring is another important thing to consider when designing a space for wheelchair use. Stephanie Martinez, who is the division merchandise manager of hard surface flooring at The Home Depot, spoke exclusively to House Digest about the best floor option for wheelchairs. 

"Our top recommendation is vinyl flooring," she said. "Vinyl flooring, with its scratch-resistant, stain-resistant, and waterproof qualities, offers both practicality and elegance." Once you have the right floors, we strongly suggest creating the right floor plan and removing as many obstacles as possible. To make your home more accessible for a wheelchair, you could also try spacing out the furniture so it's easy to move around and keeping electrical cords off the floor so they're not in the way.

The numerous benefits of vinyl flooring

Our expert sees vinyl floors as the best option because of their smoothness and durability. "The surface of vinyl flooring ... allows for easy and efficient wheelchair movement," said Stephanie Martinez. "In addition to being waterproof, vinyl is also scratch- and stain-resistant and can dampen noise, which can make it more comfortable for wheelchair users." 

Vinyl floors also come out on top for their affordability, their low-maintenance needs, and the variety they offer. "Vinyl flooring comes in a wide range of styles and colors, enabling wheelchair users to find one that complements their home without compromising on functionality," explained Martinez. "It is also more affordable than hardwood flooring, providing a similar aesthetic at a fraction of the cost. It requires only simple care and maintenance." Water, vinegar, baking soda, and baby oil are some simple household substances that can be used to clean vinyl floors.

More tips and products for creating a wheelchair-friendly home

When asked which flooring types people should avoid, Martinez advised against carpeting. "While there isn't a specific type of flooring that's completely unsuitable, we recommend against using carpeted flooring in wheelchair-friendly homes. Wheelchairs can leave tracks on carpet, and their movement is more hindered compared to wood or vinyl floors. This could potentially limit the wheelchair user's freedom to move freely throughout the house."

She also highlighted the Independent Living collection by The Home Depot which consists of wheelchair ramps, toilet seat risers, and walk-in tubs to name a few. Over the years, many home product manufacturers and designers have recognized the need for products that maintain style and beauty without alienating people with disabilities. Design is all about enhancing the quality of life of anyone who comes into contact with it, and solutions that focus on accessibility will always be sought after.