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Flooring for wheelchair access

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  1. #1
    Apprentice (new member)
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Mornington peninsula

    Default Flooring for wheelchair access

    Oh gosh, I am soooooo confused.

    I started out being a little confused, so I visited 4 carpet shops for advice. Big mistake, because now I am totally confused!!!!! Not only did each one tell me something different, but each one told me that what the previous one told me was wrong.

    I want to rip up the old carpet in the hallway and 3 bedrooms, and install something healthier and cleaner. While I do have a timber floor, I doubt it would be suitable for polishing, and besides, the toxic fumes while itís being done is not an option. I have an elderly lady in a wheelchair in the house, and she is very sensitive to strong chemical smells, and thereís no way we could move out for a few days while it was being done.

    So, it comes down to floating floors or sheet vinyl. I basically discounted sheet vinyl, feeling that it would give the impression of a 1950ís holiday house, but I was also unsure about floating floors as I'd heard many horror stories Ė hollow sound, scratches, not waterproof, cold, etc.

    My first stop was Harvey Norman. I explained that I wanted something that was reasonably quiet, did not need smelly chemicals to be held in place, and most importantly would not leave tyre marks from the wheelchair. The salesman told me my best option would be timber laminate floating floor Ė Timber Impressions. (In subsequent research, I discovered Ė I think, sigh Ė that laminate planks are noisy to walk on and scratch easier.)

    I then went to Carpet Court, who said no no no to laminate, and insisted that best option would be sheet vinyl, that the woodgrain finish would ensure it didnít look like a cheap option, and that it would withstand wheelchair traffic. They added that most supermarkets used this. (Speaking to a friend who had chosen this option put me off when she said that her chair legs all made dents in it, and keeping in mind that the wheelchair travels along the hallway many times a day, I could foresee permanent grooves as a result! She also said it required glue that took 24 hours to set before they laid the vinyl.)

    Carpet Call, however, laughed at sheet vinyl and said I needed real wood, recommending ReadyFlor. He said real wood would look far superior and would be more resistant to scratches and heavy traffic. (Another friend later told me that she had floating wood floors put down and within a week the dog had made scratch marks everywhere!)

    I returned to Harvey Norman, this time speaking to a different salesman, and he discounted everything Iíd been told so far and said I needed vinyl planks, in particular a product called Allure. He pointed out they were easy to lay, didnít suffer expansion and contraction, used no smelly toxins, looked spectacular, were quiet to walk on, easy to care for, waterproof, scratch resistant, and easily removed later if I wanted to. All this sounded excellent and I was beginning to be swayed, until I read a report on the internet by someone who had them put down and spent a month complaining about the horrible smell until Harvey Norman finally came out, smelt them, agreed, pulled them up, and refunded her money.

    Whatís left? Ceramic tiles arenít an option for bedrooms, in my opinion. Maybe I should just go bare-boards? I spent all day reading posts on this forum, but only came away more confused.

    So, to those in here who have experience with any of these options, Iíd really appreciate hearing from you. Or if anyone has any other suggestions, please let me know, because Iím terrified to go to any more carpet shops, although I doubt they could confuse me any more than I already am!

    So basically Iím asking Ö. for wheelchair use, to look good, low smell, ease of maintenance and (less important) quietness and water resistant, which is best :
    Timber floating floors?
    Laminate floating floors?
    Vinyl floating floors?
    Sheet vinyl?
    Any other option?
    And which brand would you recommend? (Forget cost -I no longer care if I end up bankrupt, as long as I can have a floor that meets my requirements!)

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Swifts Creek, Vic.


    Just to confuse you some more, I've recently become a fan of painted then clear coated timber or chipboard floors. It's the least cost alternative and looks great. Problem is you'd have to move out for a couple of days while the job is being done, but that is probably the case with most of the other options. Either move out or put up with the inconvenience of shifted furniture and tradesmen stomping in and out all day long. One way or another it is still a fairly big inconvenience, how about a few days holiday? Go away, avoid the noise, smells and stress and come home to a "new" house. By the way, water based floor coatings, rather than solvent based, are non toxic.
    For a more informed opinion there are some floor layers on this forum from time to time who know their stuff, I'm just a dumb floor sander. Try sending a private message to "That Floor Guy", he seems to have some pretty balanced and unbiased opinions on the various products available. He doesn't sell any particular product, as some do, and should be able to give you some good advise.

  3. #3
    Apprentice (new member)
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Mornington peninsula


    Many thanks for your reply Tim. Unfortunately, moving out for a week isn't an option - I wish it was!!!!! Impossible to get my Mum into a car let alone anywhere else, her big day out is a wheel up and down the driveway, lol. Besides, I have 2 old cats who have never been away from home and would probably both die of shock if they couldn't sleep on my bed!

    I think I'm heading towards vinyl, now I just have to decide between vinyl planks and vinyl sheets - ah well, at least I have the options down to just 2.

    Then again, there are also stone tiles ..... lol, smack me!!!!!!

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008


    Thanks for the rap Tim

    We've installed a heap of aged care facilities and it's always vinyl, mostly commercial sheet. For a house though I'd go a good quality vinyl plank or tile depending on the look you're after, much easier to achieve flush finishes at all thresholds with ramping, etc. Adhesive is extremely low impacting and if an issue fume extraction is a piece of cake in a house.

    I've installed a heap of houses in your situation, it isn't too difficult to work around a customers needs.

    I've PM'd you so I hope the info helps.

    good luck

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