Best and Worst Bathroom Flooring for Aging in Place Safety
By Fay Wein, Communication Specialist
The bathroom is the most important room to remodel for safety when it comes to aging in place. Choosing a flooring that will help prevent slips and falls is a critical part of this process. From the pattern of your floor to the material you choose, your bathroom floors should be chosen with your safety in mind.
Pros: Ceramic tile is easy to clean and easy to take care of, especially if you choose simple white tile. If you choose small tiles, the texture can help protect against slips and falls.
Cons: Ceramic tile is cold, hard, and unforgiving in the event of a fall. It’s also relatively slippery when it’s wet, making it a poor choice for seniors’ bathrooms.
Safety rank: 5/10
Pros: Glass is beautiful. You can easily create a tiled glass design that reflects your unique style and matches any bathroom décor.
Cons: Glass is extremely hazardous for seniors. It’s slippery when it’s wet or if a socked foot touches it. It’s also very hard, so when you do fall, you’ll have no protection. Glass can also shatter, which means that you could be cut during a fall.
Safety rank: 3/10
Pros: For seniors who live alone and will need to do their own cleaning, vinyl is the most obvious choice for easy maintenance. Stains aren’t an issue, and the floor won’t be scarred or scraped over time as a walker or wheelchair passes over it on a regular basis.
Cons: Vinyl doesn’t provide any additional padding if you do slip and fall. Vinyl also isn’t a particularly “green” flooring choice, since it requires a great deal of petroleum to produce.
Safety rank: 8/10
Cork or Bamboo
Pros: Cork is soft and comfortable underfoot and gentler in the event of a fall. The material is naturally warmer underfoot, which will be greatly appreciated on cold winter mornings. These materials naturally absorb sound, making them a great choice for a busy household.
Cons: This soft surface quickly absorbs water if it isn’t sealed properly. The warm, humid environment and frequent drips that occur in most bathrooms may make it difficult to maintain these types of flooring properly. Cork, in particular, also tends to be very soft, making it easy to score or scratch. It will quickly take on the imprint of items left on it long-term.
Safety Rank: 8/10
Pros: Carpet provides a nice, warm surface that is comfortable underfoot and provides an extra layer of protection in the event of a fall. It’s nicely textured to help decrease fall risks.
Cons: Keeping carpet completely clean is a real challenge, especially in a bathroom, where drips of water are fairly common. It may be difficult to keep the carpet completely dry. Carpeting can hold particulate matter from outside, decreasing indoor air quality.
Safety Rank: 7/10
Pros: Rubber flooring is the safest choice you can make in a senior-friendly bathroom. It’s not slick when wet; it’s easy to maintain; and it creates a soft surface that’s very forgiving both underfoot and if a fall does occur.
Cons: Rubber flooring isn’t as traditionally appealing as the design typically found in bathrooms. It’s a very expensive flooring style, so it might not be an option if you’re on a tight budget.
Safety rank: 10/10
Pros: Natural stone is another gorgeous bathroom material. It comes in a variety of warm, earthy colors and is eco-friendly.
Cons: Stone may be beautiful, but it’s also hard and unforgiving if you trip and fall. Natural stone is very hard to maintain, making it a poor flooring choice for seniors.
Safety rank: 4/10
Pros: Concrete flooring is highly durable and very easy to maintain. It has a variety of color and texture effects that can be used to help it reflect any design you like, and the textured floor may decrease the risks of slips on the wet surface of a bathroom floor.
Cons: Concrete is very hard, making it less than ideal in the event of a fall. It’s cold in winter and summer alike and may be uncomfortable to stand on for more than a few minutes. Concrete is also very susceptible to moisture penetration if it’s not treated appropriately, which could create problems when it’s used as a bathroom flooring option.
Safety rank: 5/10
Pros: Hardwood flooring creates a gorgeous surface that can be chosen to match the design of any room. It’s durable, so it will be tough enough to withstand the pressure of a walker.
Cons: Hardwood is very hard and will provide no cushioning in the event of a fall. Hardwood flooring in a bathroom can also be problematic due to the moisture that is common in this room.
Safety rating: 6/10
The flooring option that was once the worst choice for you and your family may now be the best option for you as you prepare to age in place. Do plenty of research before choosing flooring for your bathroom to ensure that you’re making an informed decision. There are plenty of different choices for your bathroom flooring. Make the choice that will work best for you!
Fay Wein is a writer, nature lover, mother and wife (not in that order!) She is a communication specialist and blogger for Glass Tile Oasis, an online shop with an extensive selection of some of the most unique and inspired kitchen and bath tiles.