“Two Areas Where Product Advances Have Served Universal Design Well – Part I”

Go to the grocery store, the mall, or watch commercials on TV. There are so many new products being introduced, and major advances in existing ones.  This affects us in all areas of our lives and makes so many of our daily tasks more pleasant and easier. 

Thus, it is no surprise that many of the product advances, new technology, and innovation is available to help us deliver aging-in-place solutions in the form of newly available or upgraded universal design features.

There have been many areas of home decor, features, components, and design that have witnessed major changes in the past few years, but two come to mind as the most significant: flooring and lighting.

First, let’s look at flooring. For many years, carpeting was one of the major flooring choices. Of course, hardwood and ceramic tile have been popular as well. Now there are several choices of products, materials, colors, and finishes. Most of the newer flooring choices are of the hard surface variety.

For those who don’t care for carpeting or would like a harder surface, there are many alternatives – in varying degrees of hardness and sheen. Ceramic tile is quite popular has transitioned from just being available in square sizes (and many different size choices at that), to rectangular, planks, and die-cut shapes. In addition to looking like traditional ceramic floor tile, they also have the appearance of hardwood, stone, and travertine. Porcelain tile is a close relative of ceramic.

Vinyl tile has made a huge comeback – as tile, planks, and sheets. The old-style linoleum that was a standard for many years in the mid-1900s has made a large resurgence. Many vinyl tile planks have the look of wood. Also, many vinyl styles have a cushion backing to offer a softer feel when walking or standing on them.

Travertine, brick, terra cotta, stone, marble, cork, bamboo, laminates, concrete (stained, polished, or stamped), and engineered wood are some of the other available flooring choices.

There is no shortage of materials, price points, sizes, finishes, colors, or styles available to provide serviceable, sustainable, hard surface flooring that facilitates aging-in-place treatments in homes of any age.

Probably more than any other product used in the home, flooring has seen major advances in what is available as well as how it looks and feels to stand and walk on it.

In Part II, we’ll discuss lighting, and in future posts, we’ll discuss other product advances that makes our jobs of offering aging-in-place solutions easier.

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