When you start using a wheelchair, especially in your later life, there is a lot that changes for you. While your outdoor accessibility has improved over the last few years due to better awareness and strict Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines, your accessibility within your own home may get curtailed.
Be it a carpeted floor, or a narrow doorway or passageway, be it a different floor – there are a lot of places in your own home which may become difficult for you to reach.
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Area Rugs for Wheelchair User
You may have a wheelchair that does not pass through existing doorways or hallways and severs your access to those parts of your home. Your home may have multiple levels and you will find it difficult to move your wheelchair by using staircases across levels.
All in all, there is not a lot you can change in your home to align your new requirements and you may have to live with them. Having said that, one of the few things that you can change easily, without shelling out a lot of money, is the flooring in your house to suit your wheelchair.
Best Flooring for Wheelchair
Whether you own a self propelled wheelchair or a power wheelchair, the best flooring for your wheelchair will be the one that creates the least amount of friction between your wheelchair tires and the floor.
Therefore, it is best if you have a hardwood floor. Wheelchairs move well on wood flooring, vinyl flooring, laminate wood and ceramic flooring as well.
While less friction is always good, a bit of texture in ceramic flooring also allows the wheels to have better grip on the surface of the floor. However, if you have a carpeted floor with a high pile, it will likely be troublesome to move your wheelchair on it, especially the power one which has broader tires and therefore creates more friction.
If your wheelchair is self-propelled you may find it grueling to move your wheelchair and may require a care giver to move you. Therefore, if you have a carpeted flooring, I recommend you change it to a more frictionless flooring.
That being said, however, carpets have their own advantages for other family members – if you have children in your house, carpets can greatly absorb the impact of your fall, or they may help you avoid cold floors in the winters. So, it is best to have a combination of hardwood or ceramic flooring and area rugs, depending on the room and space. You can install area rugs in places where children are more prone to falling around the sofa or TV and normal flooring elsewhere.
We posed this question, to Guy Pylypiw from Oshawa Carpet One and this is what he had to say:
Generally the best type of flooring for wheelchair use would be a luxury vinyl product that is designed and warrantied for commercial use. We also recommend using a glue down product as opposed to a click product as being glued down will allow it to stand up better to the stresses of a rolling load like a wheelchair. Also, luxury vinyl is a waterproof material, so it is excellent for use in kitchens and bathrooms.
Do keep in mind though, area rugs also restrict movement of wheelchairs a lot, given their texture. In this article, our aim is to help you select the best area rugs that may reduce the problem of wheelchair movement while at the same time retain the benefits of an area rug.
Wheelchairs May Spoil Your High Pile Area Rug
If you have installed an area rug in your home that has high pile (that is, the fibers of your rug are taller and more loose, likely giving you more comfort), it is best that you avoid treading with your wheelchair on these.
On average, your wheelchair may weigh about 250 pounds along with you, and all this weight will be concentrated on the tires of the wheelchair – which in the case of self-propelled chairs are really thin.
Therefore, unfortunately, your wheelchair will leave ugly pressure marks along a thin line. It will spoil the padding near the track marks and after some days of repeated use, the base of the area rug will be exposed and it will start tearing, causing your area rug to fall apart. Also, remember that your wheelchair turns on its radius in one spot and therefore will crush the soft padding on the area rug where it turns. Consistently doing this in one area will ruin the rug.
When we asked Guy Pylypiw, how should wheelchair users choose the right furniture and area rugs and what all factors should go into their consideration, when looking for an area rug, he had the following to say.
When looking for an area rug, someone is a wheelchair would need to generally look for low pile rugs, preferably with a loop pile construction. Again, because of rolling loads a high pile plush rug will very quickly show signs of wear. Also, the higher the pile the harder it will be to navigate. Think of trying to drive down a road with 3 feet of snow on it, versus a freshly plowed street! Also, aside from a “rug gripper” to hold the rug in place, you would not want to use any kind of cushion under the rug.
How to Choose and Install Your Area Rug
A few considerations while buying your area rug will go a long way to increase the life of your rug and at the same time will not inconvenience your wheelchair bound family member.
- Pile height: A low pile area rug greatly reduces the friction between the wheelchair tires and the rug, thereby making it easier to move your wheelchair on it. Also, it makes the rug much more compact making it less prone to be ‘cut’ by the wheelchair tires. The other way round, fluffy area rugs do not work with wheelchairs.
- Color: Color is an important aspect of the rug and you may want to choose one with a darker shade that will hide the wheelchair tire marks or dust marks.
- Dimensions: Always try to align the dimensions of the area rugs with the space on which it is to be installed. The more closely it matches the space, the lesser the number of loose edges which may bump up or fold up when you move your wheelchair on the area rug
- Proper Installation: It is best to fix the loose edges of the area rug to the floor on the sides from which it is possible to access the rug via wheelchair. This will help prevent rolling or folding up of the rug. The fixing can be done via glue or strong two-sided thin tapes, keeping in mind not to increase the elevation of the rug too much from the floor.
Here we have a video that shows how to install rugs and padding.
Below we have reviewed a few area rugs which are best for the home of a wheelchair user. All of the below rugs are low pile or medium pile rugs.
#1 Sofia Traditional Area Rug by Unique Loom
This is a low pile rug with a total thickness of 0.25 inches. It is made of polypropylene and a cotton layer at the bottom. The rug is relatively lightweight at 11 lbs. You may use double-sided carpet tape to keep the rug in place.
- Available in many color choices and sizes; recommended to purchase darker color to avoid visibility of tire marks or dirt marks from tire.
- Easy to clean by vacuum and stains are easily removable by shampooing
- The rug is made of mildew-resistant material, good for humid weather
- Kid-friendly product and good for rough use and high traffic areas
- Good value for money
- The rug is lightweight and unless heavy objects are placed on it, it is difficult to smooth out creases or folds on it. The rug may fold up when you get on it on your wheelchair
#2 Safavieh Vision Collection Area Rug
This is a made in Turkey rug with the total thickness or pile height of 0.5 inches or 1.25 cms. The rug is made of polyester fiber with a lower layer made of jute.
- Available in many sizes and you can choose the best size to fit your requirements
- The rug is made of polyester and leads to less shedding of pile or fiber
- Better grip on surface due to jute backing
- The rug may arrive folded and fold creases may take a bit of time to disappear
- May emanate a strong smell after unpacking; It is recommended that you keep the room airy, to begin with so that the smell dissipates soon
#3 Home Dynamix Sakarya Area Rug
This is a low pile rug – 0.3 inches pile height. The rug is made up of 100% polypropylene and is available in 6 sizes and a dozen color palettes.
- Easy to clean and maintain through shampooing. Take care to dry quickly after shampooing, by exposure to soft sunlight or warm dryer.
- Durable and lightweight
- Minimal shedding and low pile helps in less friction
- Lack of any non-slip backing may fold up the rug if you get on the rug with your wheelchair
- Double sided rug tape may be required to make the rug stay at one place
#4 Pastiche Area Rug by Superior
This is a low pile rug with distressed style geometric pattern and comes in a wide array of sizes, starting from 2 x 3 feet to 10 x 14 feet to suit the need of different room layouts and sizes.
- Jute layer on the back makes the area rug anti-slip
- The rug is made of material which is mildew resistant and anti-static
- Available in many sizes and can be perfect for all rooms as per size
- Easy to clean by vacuum or shampooing
- Lightweight and durable
- Long and consistent exposure to sunlight may lead to fading of rug colors
- The rug might be wavy in the middle to start with and would require heavy weights to be placed on it to straighten it
#5 Unique Loom Del Mar Collection Area Rugs
This is a medium pile area rug (0.5 inch pile). Available in 4 colors with size ranging from 2 x 3 ft to 10.5 x 16.5 ft.
- Made of stain resistant and mildew resistant material
- Made of durable polypropylene which is mark resistant under wheelchair tires
- Medium pile area rug with less shedding
- Good choice of pastel colors and sizes make it customizable to any of your rooms
- The chemical smell may be uncomfortable in the beginning and you should have a ventilated room to get rid of the smell initially
#6 Safavieh Adirondack Collection of Area Rugs
This is a Turkish rug with low to medium pile of 0.375 inch and woven fiber on the back side so that the rug does not slip on smooth wooden floors.
- Very low to insignificant shedding makes this a durable choice
- Available in more than thirty sizes and ten colours to enable better fitment. Recommend to purchase darker coloured rug to camouflage wheelchair tire marks.
- Good value for money
- Lightweight rug; Easy to clean and dry
- Long and consistent exposure to sunlight may lead to fading of dark colours in rug
There is a wide range of choices available for an area rug, but you should remember to filter your choices by low or medium pile style of rugs. This is the most important criteria to adhere to when you are selecting a rug on which you are expecting wheelchair traffic as well.