The Best Flooring for Active Kids
Choosing the best flooring for active kids can be a challenge! How do you find flooring that looks great, but is also soft, comfortable and safe? Stay tuned for the best options for your kiddos that don’t make your home look like a daycare.
Okay, so your baby is not a baby anymore, and although you’ve safety proofed the heck out of your house, all of the sudden you’re discovering your cold, hard tile may not be the best option when your little one falls out of that handstand they’re practicing.
We all want our little ones to be active and to spend more time with active play than sitting in front of the TV or computer. But we also know it can be a challenge to try to watch over them and keep them safe at all times. More play can mean more bumps and bruises, but it doesn’t have to!
The truth is, you have a lot of options when it comes to safe flooring for your little ones – some temporary, some permanent. Let’s break it down, shall we?
This is one of those temporary options. I’m sure you’ve seen these at preschools and maybe used in P.E. classes.
These are soft, light floor tiles made out of foam, making them extra soft and cushy.
Many parents love these tiles as their little one is first learning to walk and crawl. You can set up a small play area or even cover their entire room.
You have tons of options when it comes to look and color, and you can even get soft foam tiles that look like hardwood! I mean, let’s be real….you’re probably not going to be fooling great aunt Gloria when she comes to “visit” (read → criticize everything in your home, and of course, your hair), but it’s a nice way to keep the look and feel of your home more “adult”.
If you decide to go for a smaller play section, you don’t even have to be 100% committed! You can easily pick these tiles up and put them away when company comes over, or if you want to move the play area to another room.
Pros of Soft Tiles for Active Kids
- Softness. Obviously. But, for real, this is probably your softest option, which makes them ideal for young toddlers on the move.
- Portability. These tiles require no installation, so it’s crazy easy to just pick them up and transport them to the next room, closet, grandma’s house, anywhere!
- Price. These are probably the cheapest flooring option on the market. Foam is an inexpensive material, and because they are not a permanent flooring solution, you’ll be able to pick them up for as low as $1/square foot.
- Color and style options. Unlike hard floorings like wood and tile, creating colors and looks is way less of a process with soft tiles. This means you can get them in almost any color imaginable and in cool designs to spice things up.
- Light weight. Have you ever picked up a box of tile? I have. It wasn’t fun. Foam tiles even grandma can lift over her head with ease.
Cons of Soft Tiles for Active Kids
- Durability. So, foam…I mean, foam is just a soft material and it can be punctured or damaged more easily than harder surfaces. Although the tiles will likely last until your child grows out of them, it may be one of those things you want to repurchase for child #2.
- Young look. “Wow, Buffy! This foam is so elegant and luxurious!”, said no one ever. Let’s be real: soft tiles look like flooring for kids. Even wood-look soft tiles won’t have the expensive, mature look of hard surfaces.
- Balance. Because foam tiles are so soft, you sink into them slightly, which makes them not super ideal for some activities like gymnastics and martial arts practice.
Use these soft tiles from a few months old to 2-3 years to protect your kiddo as they learn, play and grow.
Another temporary option, kids play mats are excellent for keeping safe while they play and learn to complete new physical challenges.
Chances are, you’ve seen these more in schools and studios than in the homes of your friends, but they are a great at home tool as well, particularly if you’re little one is practicing cheer, gymnastics or martial arts.
You can go with a mat specifically designed for kids, or any tumbling or cheer mat. The good news is, you have lots of options so it will be easy to find something that fits both your needs and budget.
Pros of Kids Mats for Active Kids
- Shock absorbency. Kids tumbling mats, gymnastics mats, cheer mats and martial arts mats are built to be shock absorbent to keep kids safe during these high-impact activities. Unlike softer foam tiles, these mats are designed for jumping, back flips and handstands gone wrong.
- Portability. While these aren’t as light as soft tiles, mats are easy to roll or fold up so you can take them out just when you need them. This way they won’t disrupt your impeccable decor.
- Specificity. As I mentioned above, there are kids mats for just about every activity and sport. If you have a little one who is active in a specific sport, you can customize your choice to fit their specific needs.
- Durability. Kids mats are built to be resistant to punctures and tears. Most are covered in either vinyl or durable carpet which makes them last for years.
Cons of Kids Mats for Active Kids
- Size. If your little one wants to practice cartwheels for yards at a time, clearly they will run out of mat. Although you can often velcro mats together to cover a larger area, that can quickly become expensive. If you want an entire room dedicated to your child’s activity, a mat likely won’t be the best choice.
- Storage. Because you probably won’t be leaving these mats out all the time (although, you totally can if you want!), you’ll most likely need a place to store then when they’re not being used. If you live in NYC, this could be a problem. If you live in Arizona, like me, you probably have Cost Co sized storage and this ain’t no thang.
Use kids mats for kids practicing specific activities, such as gymnastics, cheer, martial arts, etc.
Wait, what? No, but really. Cork.
Although many people think cork flooring is a new, modern invention, but it’s actually one of the oldest flooring options on the market.
And, no, it does not look like you put a cork board on your floor and called it flooring. Promise.
So you’re probably wondering what cork has to do with active children. Fun fact: cork is the leading flooring for the elderly, due to its resiliency.
Cork has a natural give to it that is great for joints both young and old. And, unlike the previous options, cork is something that will look beautiful and mature throughout your house.
If you want your kids to be able to run and play throughout the entire house, cork is definitely an option to consider. I mean, it’s not foam soft, but it’s the in-between option – the soft guy of the hard surfaces.
Pros of Cork Flooring for Active Kids
- Resiliency. This is the big ticket item; the main reason why cork is great for your little ones. You may not be able to feel it on a first walk through, but trust me when I say your joints will totally notice a difference!
- Mature look. This is the big ticket for you! You want your home to look stylish and not like an episode of the Carebears. Cork flooring gives you a touch of softness with a real adult look and feel.
- More “traditional” flooring. If you’re a traditional guy or gal, you’ll appreciate a floor that’s not too off beat. It’s closer to a mainstream flooring, while still giving you a little added safety.
- Coverage. You can put cork almost anywhere in the home (bathrooms and flood-prone basements are a no-no). You can cover a larger area without it looking weird and give your kiddos a much larger playing space.
Cons of Cork Flooring for Active Kids
- Price. Cork is no more expensive than other traditional flooring options such as wood and tile, but it is significantly more expensive than temporary kids flooring. If you choose cork, you are not only paying for legit new flooring, but also for the installation.
- Harder surface. Although cork is the softest of the hard surfaces, it is still a hard surface. It does not offer the same shock absorbency as specialty tiles and mats. Although it is your best option of the harder surfaces, I wouldn’t let my child practice back flips on cork without a mat.
- Commitment. I mean, new flooring is a real commitment, and you shouldn’t do it unless you’re planning on keeping it for the long haul. If you plan to have 10 kids that all play and goof around throughout the house, it’s a great investment! However, if you only want a small dedicated area for your kids to practice their activity, doing all new cork floors would definitely be overkill.
Floors to Avoid for Active Kids
Although any flooring can truly be turned into an activity area with the right coverage, these flooring options are not ideal without soft tiles or a mat on top for protection.
- Tile & Stone. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Tile and stone are the hardest surfaces on the market, and could result in serious injury when kids engage in high-impact activities without soft tiles or mats.
- Hardwood. Let’s be honest; hardwood is expensive and temperamental. It’s totally worth it for the unique, warm feeling that only hardwood can give, but if you spend that money, you want to be extra careful with it.
- Laminate. Why laminate? It’s typically a more slippery surface so, while it’s no more dangerous than vinyl when your child is barefoot, when running around in socks, it can become slippery and cause them to fall more easily.
You have lots of options when it comes to choosing the right flooring or flooring protection for your kiddos. Make sure you take into account their age, what type of activity they’re participating in, and your budget to make the best decision.
For more flooring options, check out RubberFlooringInc.com.