The Best Flooring for Sensory Rooms
| Fact Checked By: Lamont Robbins
Published: September 9, 2020 | Updated: September 15, 2020
Creating sensory rooms for individuals with special needs starts with a strong foundation of the right flooring. Sensory room flooring needs to be safe, non-toxic, impact-resistant, and of course, fun!
Not sure where to start? There’s no need to worry because this guide will walk you through your options for the best flooring. Whether you want to create a multi-sensory room at home, at school, or at a daycare, you can find the perfect flooring to fit your needs.
Learn the pros and cons of sensory flooring, from soft foam tiles to fun learning rugs, and more. Let’s get started.
What is a Sensory Room?
According to Betty Ray with Edutopia, a sensory room is “a therapeutic space with a variety of equipment that provides students with special needs with personalized sensory input.” In schools and daycares, and even in homes, a sensory room, “helps children calm and focus themselves so they can be better prepared for learning and interacting with others.”
Benefits of Sensory Rooms
Sensory rooms provide a safe, calming place for individuals to go when they want to rest, take a break from certain stimuli, or even just have fun.
“While it can be a calm space where they can regain control of their emotions, a sensory room can also provide a low-stress, fun environment for an individual to work through their emotions and reactions to certain stimuli.” – Betty Bell, Enabling Devices
There are many benefits to sensory rooms, and they’re important to consider when thinking about what kind of flooring you may need. According to this guide from Enabling Devices, sensory rooms promote:
- Calming effects
- Improved focus
- Motor skills development
- Cognitive development
- Sensory development
With those key benefits in mind, it’s time to explore your options for the best sensory room flooring!
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The Best Flooring For Sensory Rooms
While sensory rooms should be fun and engaging, the top priority is always safety. Flooring for a sensory room should be soft and help to keep children safe if they fall. For that reason, your best options should be able to absorb some impact. There are also some more decorative options that aren’t designed to absorb impact, but rather create a more colorful and engaging space.
Soft foam tiles are ideal for a lightweight and portable flooring solution. They’re non-toxic and are safe for people of all ages to use. Available with lots of bright colors, fun animal print patterns, and even the letters of the Alphabet, foam tiles offer a place to play and engage.
Foam flooring is water-resistant, shock-absorbent, and insulates the floor for a more comfortable temperature. They’re easy to install and pull up as needed and can handle a good amount of wear and tear. One small drawback is that they can be punctured by sharp objects, such as high heels.
Pros and Cons of Foam Tiles for Sensory Rooms:
- Easy installation
- Soft and comfortable
- Fun colors and patterns
- Interactive puzzle and alphabet mats
- Durability: Sharp objects can puncture or tear the foam.
Recommended Foam Tiles for Sensory Rooms:
Rubber flooring is perfect for sensory rooms because it’s durable, absorbs impact, and is easy to clean. You can get those benefits in a variety of thicknesses custom cut to whatever size you need for your room. If you’re concerned about the safety of rubber flooring, you can rest assured that quality rubber flooring remains a safe flooring option.
Rubber rolls do more than just absorb the shock of impact, though of course, that’s a big plus. Rubber is also highly slip-resistant and actually gets even more slip-resistant when wet. That means there’s a lower risk of falling and getting injured even if there might be a spill on the floor.
Pros and Cons of Rubber Flooring for Sensory Rooms:
- Smell: Some rubber can off-gas initially, creating an unpleasant odor. This can be addressed by mopping the floor a few times with a mild solution of soap and water, and then letting the room ventilate.
Recommended Rubber Flooring for Sensory Rooms:
- Eco-flec Rolls
- Impact Rolls – Wood Series
- 15mm Impact Rolls – Designer Series
- 15mm Impact Tiles – Designer Series
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Nothing is quite as soft and cozy as carpet, and with kids’ area rugs, you can combine comfort with learning opportunities. Learning rugs can teach lots of concepts, from numbers and letters to colors and animals.
It’s true that carpet can absorb spills and stains easier than hard flooring, so having wall-to-wall carpet might not be what you want. Instead, an area rug is a good compromise. Our kids’ rugs for learning and play are super easy to clean and maintain, and they are portable, which means you can rearrange the room or store them away if necessary.
Pros and Cons of Area Rugs for Sensory Rooms:
- Fun colors and patterns
- Maintenance: Carpet fibers can absorb spills and stains more easily, so it requires more effort to keep them clean.
Recommended Area Rugs for Sensory Rooms:
Folding mats and gymnastics mats offer a portable foam matting solution that you can bring out whenever it’s time for kids to get more active. Children can play and jump around with the safety of a folding mat to support them if they slip or fall.
Covered with durable vinyl to ensure durability and easy maintenance, our folding mats have a Velcro tab system on all four sides so that multiple mats can be connected together to cover large areas. When it’s time to clean up and move on to another activity, you can easily wipe them down with a sanitizer and fold them away for storage.
Pros and Cons of Folding Mats for Sensory Rooms:
- Fun colors
- Size: Folding mats are meant to be portable and easy to store, so they won’t cover a large area. If you want a larger area for kids to play, you will need multiple mats.
Recommended Folding Mats for Sensory Rooms:
Vinyl floor tiles are more about decoration than safety or impact absorption, but fun decorations are a big part of creating sensory rooms. These peel and stick vinyl tiles come in a variety of fun patterns and colors, and they’re easy to install in a completely customizable way.
These affordable self-adhesive vinyl stickers work on both walls and floors and you can arrange them in fun patterns like a hopscotch area, or you can use them to make a sensory path.
A sensory path is “a great way for kids to develop motor skills like balance, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness, and is normally made with stickers that can be stuck to any surface.” – Fit and Fun Playscapes
Pros and Cons of Peel and Stick Vinyl for Sensory Rooms:
- Fun colors and patterns
- Easy to install
- Durability: After a while, peel and stick vinyl may get worn down from traffic, or the edges could start peeling back. Fortunately, they’re so affordable that they can be easily replaced without breaking your budget.
Recommended Peel and Stick Vinyl for Sensory Rooms:
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When it comes to sensory rooms, sometimes it can be fun to add some softness and padding to the walls as well! Our wall pads are the perfect protective padding for your home, school, or daycare. Easy to install, this wall padding is available in several popular colors that are certain to liven up any space.
This wood-backed wall padding features 2” impact-rated polyethylene foam encased in a Class “A” PVC vinyl. That means it’s not going to easily puncture or tear, and the surface is easy to wipe down to make sure everything stays sanitary.
Pros and Cons of Wall Padding for Sensory Rooms:
- Variety of sizes and colors
- Easy to clean
- Installation: Adding wall padding to your room will require some time and effort to make sure it’s installed correctly, but your hard work will be worth it.
Recommended Wall Padding for Sensory Rooms:
Now you know what a sensory room is, and all the great benefits that come with creating one. Finding the right flooring is just one piece of the puzzle, but it’s crucial to find the right products that are both safe and fun.
Are you ready to create your very own sensory room?