I am remodeling part of our house to make it more wheelchqair accessible. My spouse rides in a heavy motorized wheelchair, which I thimk could destroy some floor coverings. Which flooring options would hold up best with a heavy chair rolling over it every day? I'm not interested in carpeting. Tile or hardwood? Cork? Other?
Tile - yes. Probably the best surface overall to not wear out.
Hardwood - yes. I think I would go with a traditional finish on site nail-down hardwood over a prefinished. Any hardwood floor will likely see some wear over time - to the point that the floor will need refinishing more often than in a non-wheelchair house. You'll get more refinishings out of a finish on site floor.
Cork - no. Even though cork flooring is fairly hard, it's still soft compared to other floors. Wheelchairs could make some tracks fairly quick.
Vinyl - yes. As long as it was a non-padded total glue-down. Stay away from perimeter flooring or you'll be rolling a wave across the room.
Floating floors - any kind - no. too much movement and too much chance of popping the snap together styles apart. Plus, it would feel like you are rolling over the ocean.
Carpet ugh! Nuff said.
There's another two flooring options that haven't been brought up; real linoleum or synthetic rubber flooring.
Real linoleum includes Marmoleum and Congoleum. This flooring is mady very much like oil based paint. You simply mix boiled linseed oil with pigments and ground up filler materials (like clays and ground cork) and spread that over a strong backing material. Just in the same way that linseed oil based paints continue to react with the oxygen in the air (theoretically forever), real linoleum continues to react with the oxygen in the air to get harder and stronger with age. However, my understanding is that just like linseed oil based paints, real linoleum also yellows somewhat with age in poorly lit rooms. In well naturally lit rooms, neither linseed oil based paint nor real linoleum will yellow with age.
Synthetic rubber flooring is made of a very tough and durable synthetic rubber. In fact, the only flooring I know of that's made for golf pro shops and skating rinks where people will be walking on the floor with spiked shoes and skates on is synthetic rubber flooring. It's more expensive than most residential flooring (except perhaps high end carpet and hardwood) but it's also more durable than ANY residential flooring.
The biggest name in synthetic rubber flooring is Johnsonite, and you can find them at www.johnsonite.com
I have Johnsonite synthetic rubber stair treads in the front and back stairwells of my building, and I tested it before I bought it. You cannot cut synthetic rubber flooring with anything short of a razor, and you can't burn it with anything short of a propane torch. I had to buy special cutting blades for my jig saw to cut the threads to size. And, putting out a cigarette on it is nothing. You just wipe up the tar and nicotine residue left by the cigarette with some mineral spirits (aka: paint thinner) and it removes the mark completely.
I would be concerned about the black tires from the wheel chair leaving black marks on the rubber flooring tho. If you contact Johnsonite, I'm sure they'd send you a single synthetic rubber tile that you could test and torture.
Synthetic rubber flooring for residential and normal commercial applications comes in either 1 foot squares or in 2 foot by 2 foot squares. It comes in a wide range of colours, in about a dozen different textures, and you can "marbelize" one colour with another, meaning you can mix colours together so that one colour is predominant, but you can see rubber of the other colour mixed in to it.
Both real linoleum and synthetic rubber would be more expensive than sheet vinyl, but both would be very much more durable than sheet vinyl as well. To my knowledge, both real linoleum and synthetic rubber flooring are "full spread" glue down floorings, meaning that the entire back surface of the flooring is glued down, not just the perimeter.
Thanks for your information. I'll look into the rubber tiles b efore I decide what to do.
Thanks, Jaybee. I was considering the snap together kind but am glad I read your comment before going that route.
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