Hand on Wheelchair

Ask a Peer: What’s the Best Flooring for a Wheelchair User?

I’m moving into a new house. I’m trying to decide on the best flooring to handle my wheelchair. Not a fan of tile. I’m thinking wood or laminate. Does anyone have any thoughts? Good or bad about either product?

Flooring is a big investment that usually has a direct impact on wheelchair maneuverability in your home. Along with maneuverability, one needs to consider durability, ease of care and aesthetics. Of the responses we got, everyone agreed carpet was the most difficult to maintain and get around on. Most people recommend hardwood. Tile, linoleum, laminate and hardwood were all recommended for wheelchair maneuverability, but long term durability was a concern with laminate and linoleum. It was suggested if using those products to get a high grade.  Below are a few of the comments sent in by the peer alumni.

  • If you go with laminate, make sure its industrial. I’ve had the wear of the tires cause it to pull up at the seams. Also, the laminate faded in heavy traffic areas. I now have hard wood throughout and love it. The only concern is finding area rugs that are very low profile. The non-skid carpet lining for under area rugs works well.”
  • “Tight grooved wood is great…Laminated less expensive, but get good grade…tile…Grout can get dirty. Pergamen is like wood but not as expensive as real wood……Would go with a light color so WC tracks don’t show.”
  • “I recommend an engineered hardwood because it is smooth, attractive, and durable. I wish I would have done the engineered over the solid.”
  • “Of importance is the transition from one surface to another.  We ended up with a quarter to a half inch difference in the floor height between the dining room and kitchen and between the living room and the entryway.  So I have to pop over the threshold in each case—not a huge problem, but it could cause a drink on my lap to spill if I’m not very careful.”
  • “We got a super deal on some walnut that was on a closeout sale that was very inexpensive per square foot compared to maple, cherry and oak.  But the key is to make sure it is already “tongue and groove” pre-cut.  That means every board will lock into each other when you lay them down.  That keeps them snug and will not buckle for your wheelchair when turning, and also handles the weight of any power chair.  My power chair is 300 pounds, plus I’m 200+ so that’s pretty heavy.  We put an “office” grade of high wear carpet in the living room and bedrooms.  We looked at 6 different places and found Lumber Liquidators the cheapest and best quality.”
  • “When we redid our house after my son’s accident (he has a big power chair) we looked at all of the above and decided on porcelain tile for its resistance a) to weight and b) to wear and tear.  (My brother is an architect and he strongly recommended tile; he just as vehemently opposed laminate as flimsy.)  Our house originally had wood and the parts where we kept the wood have suffered.  There is wood-looking tile which is pretty good looking, everyone thinks its bamboo.”

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