Ask the Contractor

Darren R. Williams is owner of All Generations, a general contracting business based in Clackamas and serving the tri-county area. Williams is a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) and welcomes questions from homeowners about making their dwellings more accessible as they age.

Safety in our home is accomplished in many ways. This month I would like to focus on keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground, hoping to share information on types of flooring and what options best suit you. I researched the latest products with the help of my longtime friend Roger Harms, who has been a flooring sales professional for over 30 years.

Let's look at different types of flooring available: laminates, natural woods, residential and commercial vinyl, porcelain tile, natural stone and of course carpet.

• Laminates: This flooring is known by names such as Pergo and Click lock. It is generally a wood-looking floor that is easily installed clicking it together. The top surface is made from the same product as laminate countertops. These floors are slick and are not recommended as non-slip flooring.

• Hardwoods: The beauty displayed by finished hardwoods is gorgeous in almost any setting (my opinion), although they also are very slippery. With socks, throw rugs, some shoes and slippers they can be extremely dangerous in keeping your footing. Add a little water to the floor, and you can have a 'Slip and Slide.'

• Residential vinyl: With the purchase of the inexpensive vinyls you have no true non-slip options. They may have a light texture feel but lack non-slip value. You must purchase an upper end-point vinyl to accomplish this goal. Some upper-end vinyls work exceptionally well in your wet areas such as your entry, kitchen and bathrooms. They are also more durable for the wear and tear from crutches, walkers and wheelchairs.

• Commercial vinyl: The best of the best in vinyl. These products also can have excellent non-slip values but lack in color selections. Vinyl of this quality is generally used in heavily commercial traffic areas and restaurants. Many commercial vinyls have an excellent gripping power, even under the harshest conditions, such as greasy food fats that may end up on the floor. Commercial vinyl can range from $35 to $70 per yard.

• Porcelain tile: There is a good selection of colors available in non-slip porcelain tiles. Being able to add different colors and tile sizes to your floor can really enhance your special look. Some porcelain tiles are made with up to 40 percent pre-consumer recycled materials. In most cases these tiles are readily available and in stock. Porcelain tiles offer your widest variety of choices in hard surface flooring that can accommodate wet areas.

How about warm heated tile floors for comfort?

• Natural stone: Slate is the natural stone that gives us some non-slip features known as clefting. Colors and sizes are limited, but slate can be cut to create different size tiles. The natural look of slate can really create a special look. Some types of granite also can be used if they are flamed or fumed. This is a technique in which extreme heat is applied to the top surface of the stone, making it flake off. There is a minimal selection of types and colors.

• Carpet: Types, colors, styles, prices ... we all know how many carpet choices there are. A low-pile commercial-level loop is your best choice for keeping your footing. There currently are no carpets advertised as non-slip.

I hope this information has been informative and will help in your future flooring decisions. Be aware of any height differences between transitions of different flooring surfaces to avoid a trip hazard.

Thank you again for your questions. Please check us out on our website at and follow us on Facebook, Feel free to call 1-800-656-9960 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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