kid on floor

Safety hazards always pose a major concern in many households, especially for rough and playful kids and pets. It is important to ensure that floors are safe by maintaining a reasonable level of slip resistance and by choosing soft flooring material in areas for pets and children.

This article will discuss these safety issues and recommend the best flooring children and pet-friendly flooring options that will address them.

Recommended Flooring Options

The first step is to identify the most kid and pet-friendly floors. Parents and pet owners will want to consider slip resistance and material hardness, alongside respiratory irritants and fire safety. Remember, you can always apply a floor covering over these to increase safety.

Vinyl Plank Flooring

Consisting of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is a form of plastic, vinyl flooring offers comfort underfoot and higher slip resistance than most traditional options like laminate flooring or hardwood floors. Vinyl flooring can capture any look through its synthetic print layer. It is a great way to stay in style while staying safe. 

Advantages of Vinyl Plank Flooring:

  • Slip Resistance - Most vinyl floors come with certified slip resistance which is difficult to produce in other types of flooring material, thanks to the synthetic construction of the plank.
  • Cleaning & Maintenance -  The 100% waterproof ability of vinyl makes it easy to mop and scrub the floors without the risk of water damage.

Disadvantages of Vinyl Plank Flooring:

  • Synthetic Feel - Vinyl planks are made of plastic which makes them feel less like real wood, making it feel like a less sturdy flooring. This makes them common for commercial applications and less for homes.
  • Artificial Look - Vinyl planks have no wood in them. Only the print layer mimics the design of wood. Also, because it is not very scratch resistant, marks on the floor can damage its aesthetics.
  • Air Quality - Lower quality and cheap vinyl flooring may emit respiratory irritants known as volatile organic compounds. This is an important factor to consider in finding kid and pet-friendly flooring.

WPC Hybrid Flooring

There are two types of hybrid flooring: stone plastic composite (SPC) and wood-plastic composite (WPC).  Both are waterproof, but WPC products have a slightly softer and more pleasant feeling underfoot. This extra softness and comfort gives it an edge over SPC as a slightly safer choice for all members of the household.

Advantages of WPC Hybrid Flooring:

  • Waterproof - the 100% waterproof ability of hybrids allow us to mop and scrub floors without damaging it.
  • Less staining - WIth no absorption, the floor will experience fewer stains that are impossible to remove.
  • Comfort - The slight softness of WPC hybrid flooring gives it a pleasant feeling underfoot.

Disadvantages of WPC Hybrid Flooring

  • Hard - WPC hybrids still have a high level of hardness, meaning that impacts are more likely to cause injury.
  • Not Slip Tested - Hybrid flooring may still be slippery for pets and children. To ensure a WPC floor is safe, consult your local retailer (Flooring Works).

hybrid flooring being cleaned

Flooring to Avoid:

While many of the following flooring types are suitable for many applications, they are not necessarily the best flooring for busy family households with active pets and young children.

Floor Tiles

Tiles are usually made of baked clay glazed with oxide crystalline compounds. Even if their slip ratings are reasonable, the material is very hard. To make a comparison, you’ll definitely feel it more on stone flooring than on wooden flooring options.

Advantages of Floor Tiles

  • Structured Surface - Tiles that have structured surfaces will offer more friction and are hence less slippery underfoot compared to those which don’t.
  • Cleaning - Because tiles are waterproof, you can mop and scrub them to remove dirt and stains without any water damage. This makes it a sustainable flooring option.

Disadvantages of Floor Tiles

  • Hardness - Despite being a durable flooring that is scratch resistant, tiles are very hard which reduces its safety in the event of a fall.
  • Cold & Non-insulating - It may be uncomfortable to walk barefoot around the house.

 tile flooring

Hardwood Flooring

Solid timber flooring consists of real wood all throughout. Engineered timber has a thin veneer above a plywood core. The surfaces of both of these flooring designs are extremely hard. Also, their smoothness will not be effective in reducing slip. This poses a risk for kids and pets.

Advantages of Hardwood Flooring:

  1. Healthy - Natural wood has low levels of VOCs.
  2. Aesthetic & Beauty - The natural wood underfoot makes this sturdy flooring pleasant underfoot and gives it an authentic look.

Disadvantages of Hardwood Flooring:

  1. Hard Surface - Despite being more scratch-resistant than other options like cork flooring or rubber flooring, the unforgiving nature of wood poses a risk to children and animals in the event of a fall.
  2. Expensive - real timber is much more expensive than synthetic wood.

hardwood timber

What is Floor Safety?

Making floors safe includes two main activities: (1) preventative measures that include increasing slip resistance to avoid falls and (2) protective measures that involve making surfaces soft to minimise harm in the event of a fall.

Preventive - Slip-Resistant Flooring

The slipperiness of floors are measured by wetting the surface of the material with water and sliding a wet pendulum over it. This gives us a rating between P1-P5, P1 being the most slippery.

  • P1 - Ordinary residential use in low traffic and safe areas.
  • P2 - Hospital wards and aged care facilities.
  • P3 - Public bathrooms and toilets in shopping malls, hospitals & food courts.
  • P4 - External ramps including driveways and footpaths.
  • P5 - Commercial kitchens and swimming pool ramps. 

Another test includes a surface drenched in oil rather than water. A contoured safety shoe is put on the oily plane. By measuring the slope of the plane at which the shoe begins to slide, we produce a rating from R9-R13, where R9 is the most slippery on oiled surfaces.

  • R9 - Slope of 6 to 10 degrees before sliding
  • R10 - Slope of 10 to 19 degrees before sliding
  • R11 - Slope of 19 to 27 degrees before sliding
  • R12 - Slope of 27 to 35 degrees before sliding
  • R13 - Slope greater than or equal to 35 degrees of inclination before sliding

Kitchens and dining areas are more likely to have similar conditions in the oil slip test. Ensuring your floor has a certified rating will give you the security and peace of mind that your kids and pets are safe, even in wet and oily conditions.

Protective - Floor Impact

Everyone would rather fall on a soft bed than on the floor. The hardness of the hardwood will cause a sudden and heavy impact on your bones. To avoid this pain, you can lay rugs, carpets, or foam mats over a floor to increase the cushion of floors in certain rooms. For an aesthetic that replicates the wood of the floor, you can lay vinyl over areas to give it some level of softness. Breaking the impact of the floor is important in protecting victims from injury. 

kids on floor

Flooring Dangers in the Air

Dust and Debris

Many floors are prone to dust and dirt accumulations. This is a direct threat to the respiratory systems of kids and pets, especially with 11% of Australia’s total population suffering from asthma. For our furry family members, dirt on the floor can rub off on your furry friends. Who knows what’s been building up in the dusty corner of the room? It is crucial to regularly eliminate these accumulations.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

In flooring, the most relevant VOC is formaldehyde, a weak carcinogen produced by the decomposition of wood. This is found in small amounts in both indoor and outdoor settings and, fortunately, it will take a couple hundred instances of exposure to floors to have a significant increase in the likelihood of cancer. However, it will provide peace of mind to choose the floor with the lowest level of VOC emissions.

VOC Emissions Ratings:

  • E2: at less than or equal to 2.0mg/L this is not recommended
  • E1: at less than or equal to 1.0m/L, this is recommended by World Health Organisation
  • E0: at less than or equal to o.5mg/L, this has a safety level above and beyond recommendation
  • Super E0: at less than or equal to 0.3mg/L, this offers perfection in safety

Every material has a different level of VOC emissions. Contact your flooring specialist for more details on specific products.

Ensuring Fire Safety

The simplest way to prevent fires is by ensuring children and animals don’t have the access to areas with fire hazards. The kitchen and any flammable household items should be kept out of reach. This can be done by always monitoring kids and pets by using gates to close off areas. Also, keep any dangerous objects securely stowed away. There’s little that the choice of flooring can do to avoid these accidents. Nevertheless, fire testing still offers safety and peace of mind to customers. 

Every material has a different measurement. It is important to consult your flooring specialist for more details. 

Critical Heat Flux

This test measures the distance that a fire would burn before naturally extinguishing. A floor sample is ignited with a pilot flame at standardised temperature and is allowed to burn. The higher the critical heat flux, the less likely the fire is to start and spread on that material. 

Smoke Development Rate

This test is run at the same time as the critical heat flux. The amount of smoke is measured in %/minute, the maximum being 750%. Lower measurements mean less smoke will be expelled in the fire. Ultimately, this provides a reduction in the chances of suffocation from smoke inhalation.


We have discussed the importance of floor choice in the safety of your children or pets. This includes the slip resistance and the hardness of the floor. This also includes the measures taken to avoid the harmful effect of VOC respiratory irritants and fire safety. If you are a parent or pet owner working on a flooring project for increased safety, visit our online flooring store on the Flooring Works website.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the safest flooring for children?

All floors are quite equal in floor safety. However, you can apply a floor covering that is specifically designed to be even safer. For example, it is extremely easy to put together mats with built in cushion in a room where kids can play and run around. Also, rugs and carpets can cover hard floors to provide friction and comfort to young residents. They will provide a safer environment than a traditional flooring option like laminate floors and engineered timber. Fundamentally, safety will come down to daily habits and how careful activities are undertaken. Choosing the right flooring options can only minimise the risk.

How do I make my kitchen floor less slippery?

Regularly cleaning and maintaining floors are the best ways to promote slip resistance in kitchen floors. It is important to immediately handle spillages and mishaps to avoid hard-to-remove residue from lingering on the floor. Also, regularly wiping off stains and ensuring that it is dried off will reduce slippery surfaces. Water and oil can pose risks for residents. If the floor is naturally too slippery regardless of maintenance, consider applying certified slip-resistant floors.

What is the best flooring for asthmatics?

The best flooring for asthmatics are hardwood timber and bamboo flooring. These two choices have the lowest respiratory irritants and so will cause fewer problems for those suffering from asthma. It is recommended to avoid carpets or cheap synthetic floors as they can cause various VOC emissions. Carpets in particular can accumulate respiratory irritants like dust over time.

Does removing carpet help asthma?

Removing old carpets will promote improvements in the house’s air quality, especially for asthmatics. Most carpets are generally acceptable but it is important to ensure that they are replaced every decade and are regularly cleaned. Over time, they accumulate more dust and irritants, making the air slightly more uncomfortable for those suffering from respiratory issues.

Which flooring is the least slippery?

Carpet and rugs offer the most slip-resistant flooring option. The entanglement of their fibres will increase the friction of any surface. However, for hard floors, vinyl is less slippery than all the other options line laminate floors or hardwood flooring. Their synthetic material promotes higher slip resistance than other options like laminate flooring and hardwood flooring.

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