Today Brenda writes:

I have a daughter with special needs.  At the moment, she is able to walk around the house wearing just her foot braces, which are plastic.  We are going to put new flooring down and are wondering if it should be carpet, laminate, or wood flooring?  I worry about the her slipping on the laminate or wood as it can be slicker than carpet and her braces are slick to begin with.  Yet It is possible that in the future she will be using a wheelchair to get around the house and carpet would make that more difficult.  To top it off, three of the four of us have asthma and allergies.  What is our best choice?

Typically speaking when someone mentions that there could be the need for a wheelchair, I advise using a hard surface flooring. Choosing a hard surface flooring will make it easy for someone to get around in a wheelchair. You specifically want flooring that’s flat,  even and can take a beating. Some people would recommend tile, but I find that grout joints can cause friction and slow the chair down. I’d also suggest staying away from hardwood with bevelled edges. Instead, I suggest something like commercial vinyl composition tiles or a heavy-duty laminate. The reason I said “typically speaking” is because you’ve also got the concern of your daughter slipping and asthma sufferers in the home.

So in your case I’d recommend putting down a hard surface flooring, but then soften this a bit by covering it with area rugs. This will give you the functionality of a hard surface with the softness of a carpet. It will give your daughter a way to get around now while she is wearing her foot braces and later on if she starts using a wheelchair.

Hard Surface Flooring

Depending on the type of foot braces your daughter is using, I’d stay away from fluffy uneven area rugs like shag. They feel great to sit on, but will make walking in braces very difficult. I would also avoid looped area rugs because there’s a chance that something on the braces could catch a loop and cause the rug fiber to snag. So stick to low pile cut fibers and remember to get a non-slip rug pad to go underneath your area rug. A rug pad is needed to keep the rug from sliding all over the place and to keep the backing on the rug from damaging your new flooring.

Another reason that area rugs are a good suggestion, is because of the asthma sufferers in your home. While some individuals think that having carpets and area rugs in your home can make Asthma worse, I believe it helps keep the dust and allergens out of the air and bound to the rug. This paired with a good vacuum cleaner to suck the dust and allergens out of the carpet/rug can help those suffering from asthma in the long run. But as always when dealing with breathing issues, best to double-check this with your doctor’s recommendations.

Do you have questions about the selecting or the installation of: tile, carpet or wall treatments (window blinds, etc)? Then email me your tale of woe(diva(at) and perhaps I will be able to answer your questions right here at the Home Makeover Diva Blog.

Written by Amanda Hartley