Senior Living Flooring Design: Adapting & Creating Safe Elderly Communities

Marsha Weckenbrock Newton, Vice President Sales - West, Midwest, Canada

Senior living and senior living design have undergone an incredible transformation. Today, senior living environments aim to do more than house the elderly and accommodate age-related conditions. Seniors are younger than ever, and they are looking for communities that reflect their active lifestyles through enhanced services and recreational offerings.

To provide all of the amenities that seniors expect, the design of these spaces must be versatile, durable, and most importantly, safe. Whether it’s the dining areas, gyms, swimming pools, libraries, art studios or wellness centers, senior living centers must meet strenuous standards. To do that, good design begins with flooring.

Senior Living Flooring & Design

Designing in the Time of COVID-19

Senior living communities have faced adversity with the COVID-19 pandemic, with many being forced to suspend community and recreational options normally available to their residents.

To help spaces of all types – including senior living – the American Institute of Architects (AIA) established a team of architects, public health experts, engineers and community managers to assess buildings and develop strategies for reducing the risk of COVID-19. Guidelines were developed to help senior living communities pivot toward a more sustainable set of strategies that may reduce the risk of infection for residents and staff while re-creating the fuller and comfortable life that America’s seniors deserve.

Achieving safety while returning to normalcy will require adapting existing senior living communities to COVID-19 guidelines while also redefining what “safe” means for the design and construction of future communities. AIA suggests senior living administrators should consider retrofitting buildings, adapting spaces for social distancing or creating new circulation and wayfinding at senior living communities.

Many senior living communities are small cities unto themselves, on par with luxury resorts that offer a range of amenities to make residents feel as connected as possible to lifelong routines. Libraries, business centers, lap pools, game rooms, greenhouses, pubs and salons are not uncommon, and lounges and media/TV rooms are nearly universal. Amenity spaces must be reopened with great care; the tactics to mitigate risk are similar for any other high-touch, communal space. Some recommendations for safely reopening senior living areas include:

  • Create smaller assembly rooms.
  • Limit the number of people allowed in one space at a time.
  • Designate visitor spaces with adequate physical separation measures.
  • Adjust outdoor spaces to accommodate family visits or group gatherings.
  • Define different spaces by using LTV and hardwood flooring together.
  • Provide ground markings for physical distancing and signage with rules.
multi-family communal area

LVT Flooring for Senior Living Centers

When it comes to flooring for seniors, there are two options for incredible versatile and flexible designs. Let’s first talk about LVT. The modular nature of tile and plank lends itself easily to retrofitting existing spaces, defining socially distant gathering areas with adequate separation, and coordinating colors. Designating rooms for visitors can be achieved similarly; and wayfinding easily achieved through product layout.

Recent advancements in LVT technology have curated some of the most innovative, versatile and high-performing flooring available. LVT offers the richness and texture of natural materials, such as hardwood, ceramic tile and stone. LVT flooring offered in tile and plank boasts realistic design visuals, lasting performance, easy installation and practical affordability.

LTV is undoubtedly an excellent option for commercial flooring, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves too quickly – we cannot neglect to mention the most timeless staple of interior design, traditional hardwood flooring. Parterre’s commercial engineered hardwood flooring is a solution that blends strength and resiliency with classic beauty and sophistication. Engineered from only the most durable resources exists a wide variety of hardwood products to choose from. There are also no repeated designs in engineered hardwood, which means that each piece is truly unique.

When it comes to LVT versus engineered hardwood flooring, the two are equal in durability and quality. By pairing them for commercial use, the design options are endless.

Features of LVT Flooring for Senior Living Design

“Barrier-Free” Living

Transitioning into a senior center setting can be a hard sell for members of an older generation — they still wish to maintain some of their independence, and fortunately many are able to do so with the help of support systems offered in senior living facilities. That’s why providing a barrier-free living environment — that is to say, maintaining a certain level of comfort and familiarity while balancing accessibility and safety — is of utmost importance. This pertains to not just emotional comfort, but physical comfort, as well. With both hardwood and LVT flooring, there are many subfloor options that can help add a level of cushioning to senior flooring without compromising the overall aesthetic. Some comfortable subfloor options include:

  • Cork
  • Foam Underlayment
  • Rubber
  • Felt
  • Acoustical Laminate

Also, because walkers, canes, wheelchairs and scooters are very common within a senior center setting, the flooring should provide a smooth surface that makes movement easy. Unlike carpet, hardwood and LVT cater very nicely to the different modes of senior transportation.

Engineered Hardwood and Wood-Look Options

A senior center environment should offer a neutral and natural aesthetic that is inviting rather than confusing. Some seniors can experience confusion as a result of an overly intricate flooring design or patterns. Whether the desired design aesthetic is active or more subdued, busy or more basic, both hardwood and LVT flooring allow you to achieve both ends of the design spectrum. What’s more, senior living centers should also create an atmosphere that is home-like and inviting.

What could be more inviting than the natural appeal of hardwood flooring? Parterre’s engineered hardwood flooring contain simplistic design visuals that create a fitting ambiance for senior living centers. If you opt for engineered hardwood, choose from a wide variety of white oak, red oak, hickory, maple and birch species.

Nothing adds visual warmth to a space like the look of natural wood grain. Wood-look LVT designs feature cool to warm tones, light to dark looks, and a variety of wood grain patterns for complete flexibility. Our full collection includes a natural-looking surface for every design aesthetic – from contemporary to traditional, and distinctive details.


Slip-Resistant & Versatile

The strength and durability of hardwood flooring make it a great option for nearly all commercial spaces, with the exception of those that face excessive moisture such as a bathrooms, kitchens or gym locker rooms. LVT and hardwood can be used together effectively in a senior living center, but LVT should be used over hardwood in areas prone to moisture.

Some LVT is environmentally friendly, as they utilize manufacturing practices that use healthy materials and phthalate free products. These unique manufacturing processes help give LVT a realistic look while also creating a three-dimensional textured surface that adds enhance grip underfoot.

LVT is a top slip-resistant bathroom flooring. Because moisture can accumulate in these areas as well, it’s important to install water-resistant flooring. LVT is naturally water resistant and will help keep all residents safe and secure no matter the environment.

Easy to Maintain

Maintaining LVT and hardwood flooring is notoriously easy – all LVT is water resistant, scratch and scuff resistant, and can be cleaned with a broom or mop and bucket. As for hardwood flooring, the natural density of its surface is typically durable enough to mitigate any risks of damage in a senior living facility. These are vitally important features in senior living design, as no elderly residents should be straining themselves to maintain their flooring. Furthermore, in a more hands-on senior living facility, the staff has many other issues to pay attention to, so flooring maintenance should be an efficient and simple process.

With easy maintenance, forward-thinking visuals and super tough construction, LVT and hardwood are great solutions in any environment. Their wide range of diverse designs create inspirational spaces for recreation, relaxation, and rest – while remaining mindful of installation and maintenance budgets. And if the LVT or hardwood has a FloorScore® certification, the flooring ensures healthier indoor air quality for your end user.


At Parterre, we’re committed to providing LVT and engineered hardwood solutions in a variety of design options. Our commercial engineered hardwood and InGrained Resilient Plank options are ideal for senior living spaces. Cozy and comforting, our plank flooring products come in a plethora of traditional and natural design options.

Contact us today to order samples of our slip-resistant flooring.