If you’re in the building industry, you may be aware of some changes going on in the measuring of slip resistance. If you’re not in the building industry, you probably aren’t aware and may not know what we’re talking about at all. This is in fact an issue that we at Traditions in Tile are very aware of and every designer in our showrooms is knowledgeable about as they present tiles to you for general use or specific locations.
Here’s the short.
What is slip resistance?
In its simplest sense, a slip resistant surface is one that will permit an individual to walk across it without slipping. (Definition from: http://www.safety-engineer.com/adasurfaces.htm)
The majority of ceramic and porcelain vendors submit their products for testing so that these products may be shown commercially and promoted as a slip resistant across all markets.
How are the tiles tested?
The old tests measured the ratio of forces necessary to start two surfaces sliding. This was measured on a dry surface and a wet surface using water. A pendulum fitted with a standardized piece of rubber swings across the flooring sample. The amount of resistance (friction) caused by the tile sample is measured by a meter and indicates the slip resistance. (Info from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floor_Slip_Resistance_Testing)
The new test uses slightly soapy water, instead of clean water, to create a more realistic environment and a computerized robot measures the resistance. This method is a more repeatable and reproducible method that gives a better indication of actual slip potential on a tile surface. There is less room for human error and can reliably provide accurate readings. (Info From: http://www.tcnatile.com/trade-news/lab-blog/111-dcof-acutest-the-new-method-for-measuring-coefficient-of-friction-on-tile.html)
Now the real question…
Does this matter to you??
That depends. Commercially, this is very important and has a lot to do with liability and insurance issues although has never been a requirement, just a recommendation from the ADA (American with Disabilities Act). A suggested minimum for commercial applications is a grade of .6 wet under the old testing system and a .42 under the new one. However, for the average home owner, it’s not as significant a number and common sense plays more into the selection of the porcelain or ceramic tile used in your house. If the person using the area being tiled has mobility issues and falling is a concern, than yes, using a product with a more structured surface is going to provide better traction and stability. When it comes down to it though, unless the surface has a high polish to it, the majority of ceramic and porcelain tiles made are going to work just fine for 99.9% of the retail homeowner market. The biggest recommendation we can make it to consult your professional tile installer or the TCNA guidelines regarding your specific installation.