What You Need to Know
- The best type of non-slip flooring for an elderly person’s bathroom is cushioned and texturized vinyl flooring. It is the safest option as it is slip-resistant and has minimal joints that can cause tripping.
- Tile and non-slip textured surfaces are an excellent option for wheelchair users as the textured surfaces provide more traction for the wheels.
- Avoid mosaic tiling, loud or busy patterns, and bright neon-colored slats, which can be disorienting and lead to falls. Additionally, avoid any flooring with raised or lowered joints, divots, or cracks that could cause trips or falls.
- Although soft, avoid carpet because it is a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and mildew. Additionally, it is difficult for those with mobility issues to navigate.
- Elderly people who cannot replace their current slippery flooring can adopt safe bathroom practices and utilize adaptive modifications such as anti-slip coatings and strips, non-slip socks, shower shoes, non-skid mats or rugs, adequate lighting, floor clutter management, and safe mobility habits to make the bathroom experience safer.
Out of all the rooms in the house, the bathroom can be the most intimidating layout for aging adults because of all the possible fall-related hazards.
Even though fixtures such as the shower, tub, and toilet present their own challenges regarding mobility, our focus today is on the challenges of a slippery bathroom floor.
The surface an older adult walks on plays a big part in their overall bathroom safety plan.
This article will discuss the best bathroom flooring options for seniors and the elderly (including the pros and cons), options to avoid, safe bathroom flooring for walkers, and the best bathroom flooring for wheelchairs.
Best Bathroom Flooring for Seniors and the Elderly
Here are three excellent options for bathroom flooring for seniors and the elderly, each of which come with a list of pros and cons for you to delve into and form your own opinions about:
Textured, Waterproof, Corked Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Walking into any home improvement store, you’ll notice many vinyl flooring options. In recent years, vinyl flooring has grown in popularity because it’s often cheaper and easier to install.
- Textured vinyl flooring prevents slips and falls
- Waterproof vinyl extends the life of the flooring, makes it easier to clean, and prevents mold spores from developing.
- Vinyl that has an underlying cork layer makes the flooring extra shock-absorbent, making it softer on the joints while walking across and better for landing purposes in the event of a fall.
- Vinyl flooring comes in hundreds of color options
- It’s extremely easy to install
- Vinyl flooring that combines texture, waterproofing, and corking features is usually more expensive than other vinyl floorings.
Cork flooring is softer than vinyl flooring but easier to keep clean than carpet.
- Cork is naturally textured, which may help in preventing slips and falls
- Cork is a soft material, which makes it shock-absorbent for falls and general walking purposes
- Cork is generally easy and cheap to install
- Although it’s relatively easy to keep clean, cork is not waterproof, so you may be looking to replace it sooner than something like vinyl or tile.
Non-Slip Tile Flooring
Textured tile flooring is aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting, perfect for a bathroom layout.
- Textured tile helps prevents slips and falls
- Tile that is professionally installed has a long life, longer than many vinyl flooring options.
- Tile is very aesthetically pleasing and comes in many colors.
- It’s a pain to replace tile, especially if one or two crack and you end up having to replace the whole floor.
- Tile doesn’t provide shock absorbency, meaning if you fall in the bathroom, you’ll land hard.
- Tile, although reasonably cheap to purchase, is expensive to install.
Flooring Options to Avoid
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the better options, here are a few flooring alternatives you should probably avoid altogether for bathroom use:
Some seniors enjoy having carpeted rooms throughout the house, especially bedrooms, living rooms, and den areas, because the flooring is more comfortable on the joints.
Additionally, the texture is more reliable than slick hardwood flooring. However, carpeting in a bathroom should be an absolute no-no.
Combined with warmth and condensation, carpets provide a breeding ground for toxic mold. Furthermore, you’ll be looking at replacing the carpet sooner than later since the water and heat exposure wears at its life expectancy.
Some fads that emerged in the 1970s should stay and die in the 1970s. One of those fashion statements was household linoleum.
The appearance wasn’t so much the issue as the safety concerns. Although very easy to clean, Linoleum is extremely slick and inappropriate for wet-surface bathrooms.
Cheap Vinyl Flooring
If you invest in bathroom vinyl flooring, commit to the process and spend the extra money on high-quality vinyl. Cheap vinyl with very few layers may not fit properly or may run the risk of buckling after a short period.
Buckled or bloated vinyl creates cracks and unexpected thresholds, leading to terrifying tripping hazards.
Loud Colored Designer Flooring
Avoid mosaic tiling, loud or busy patterns, or bright neon-colored slats. Wild or loud coloring on the bathroom floor can be highly disorienting and disrupt your depth perception, leading to loss of balance and falls.
Safe Bathroom Flooring for Walkers
Consider the type of walker you primarily use at home. Is it a standard frame with nubby feet? Does it have wheels?
When using any walker in the bathroom, you want a bathroom floor with minimal to no thresholds, divots, or cracks. Surfaces such as vinyl and tile (professionally installed) are generally smooth enough to allow safe walker use.
RELATED: Small Bathroom Ideas for Seniors
Best Bathroom Flooring for Wheelchairs
Similarly, for walkers, you want a bathroom floor that is smooth and sleek enough for the treads on your wheelchair.
However, you also want a floor textured enough for the treads to catch while the brakes are on for transfers in and out of the chair. Any vinyl or tiling with a non-slip or textured feel would be best suited for this situation.
Quick Tips to Make Slippery Bathroom Floors Safer Without Replacing It
Yes, elderly people can modify a slick floor without replacing it.
These modifications include adding anti-slip coatings and strips to the floor.
Anti-slip coatings provide an extra layer of traction to the floor, while anti-slip strips can be placed strategically in areas with a higher risk of slipping.
Anti-slip coatings are liquids, sprays, or sheets applied to existing floors to create a rough texture on the floor surface that increases traction.
These coatings are beneficial in wet or slippery areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens, and provide additional safety and security.
- Reduces the likelihood of slips and falls, improving safety
- Provides a non-slip surface in wet or oily conditions
- Provides an extra layer of protection against wear and tear
- Works with most types of solid surface flooring
- Expensive to have professionally applied
- May require frequent reapplication in high-traffic areas
- Difficult or impossible to remove
- Alters the appearance of the flooring depending on the type of coating used
Anti-Slip Strips and Appliques
Anti-slip strips and appliques are specialized “stickers” that add grip to existing floors. They come in various sizes, colors, patterns, and textures and apply easily to tile, wood, and concrete floors. They provide an added layer of safety for elderly people who may be more prone to slips and falls.
- Reduce the risk of slips and falls on existing floors, reducing the risk of injury.
- Stick to most existing floor surfaces
- Can be used in both wet and dry areas
- Easy to install and can sometimes be removed if necessary.
- Difficult to clean and may require special cleaning products to remove dirt and debris.
- Visible and unattractive, depending on the type and color of the strip used.
- Wear down over time and may need to be replaced periodically.
Additional Steps to Reduce the Chance of Slipping on Bathroom Flooring
You may be able to work with what you got and supplement your bathroom routine with a few safety features, including:
- Wearing non-skid socks or even anti-slip shower shoes while walking and during transfers
- Having adequate lighting in the bathroom
- Making sure the floor is always dry before and after showering or bathing
- Cleaning up and managing any floor clutter
- Removing ALL throw rugs from your bathroom
- Installing grab bars for more available external support
- Practicing safe mobility habits: putting wheelchair or walker brakes on, accessing physical assistance when needed, etc.
- Installing a fall alert system or keeping your cell phone on your person in the event of a fall or medical episode while in the bathroom
Summary and Final Recommendations
Selecting the right bathroom floor can create a massive difference for aging adults and prevent unnecessary falls, injuries, or hospitalizations.
Consult a professional about your options and which flooring layout would work best for your unique situation and mobility needs.
If replacing your flooring is not financially feasible, consider adopting safe bathroom practices and utilizing adaptive modifications to make your bathroom experience safer and more enjoyable.