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Understanding Tile Slip Resistance Ratings

Last Updated Jul 16, 2014 · Written by Rob Schneider

Unfortunately, slip resistance is still not something we think about seriously until after an accident occurs. However, it is definitely something we should think about. According to statistics, injuries due to slips cost Australians a staggering $3 billion every year. Those billions of dollars reflect injuries, many of which are serious and long-term, to thousands of Australians. Understanding tile slip resistance ratings can help you choose the safest tiles for every floor in and outside of your house and prevent you and your family from becoming part of the statistics.

©Belmondo Tiles

What are Tile Slip Resistance Ratings?

Researchers use a number of methods to establish slip resistance ratings on different surfaces and under a variety of circumstances. For example, the "oil ramp test" is designed for industrial settings and takes in to account the type of footwear usually worn in an industrial work environment. Another test, the "wet barefoot test," is used to determine the slip resistance of wet surfaces commonly walked on when barefoot, such as diving boards.

All slip resistance tests have two things in common:
  1. They are approved by Australia/New Zealand Standards and
  2. They receive a numerical rating. Lower numerical ratings are given to the least slip resistant surfaces.
Tile slip resistance is determined by a variety of methods:
  • The wet pendulum method uses a sophisticated pendulum device that measures slip resistance on a wet floor as the pendulum swings across it, lightly touching the surface. The readings taken are given Skid Resistance Values (SRVs). Values of SRV 0-25 indicate a high danger of slipping. SRV values of 65 or more are considered very safe.
  • The dry ramp method is used for testing dry tiles. Tile suppliers often cite the 'R' values of tiles tested using this method. An R9 value indicates that slipping is likely on a ramp at a 3-10 degree of elevation. R values gradually increase to R13, where it takes a ramp of 35 degrees to cause a person to slip.
  • A device called a "floor friction tester" (FFT) is used on smooth floors, such as polished granite tiles.

Limitations of Tile Slip Resistance Ratings

Tile slip resistance ratings do have their limitations. For example, tiles that are not smooth are generally considered to be more slip-resistant than polished tiles. However, it depends on the type of footwear that is worn. A rough or textured tile is very slippery when tested with hard soled shoes because hard soles do not fit into the contours of the surface. Because the contact area is reduced, the hard soles easily skid over the surface.

Understanding tile slip resistance ratings and their limitations can help you choose the best tiles for both indoor and outdoor applications. Just remember that two surfaces are coming into contact. If dress or other hard soled shoes are going to be worn regularly, you will have to look a little more closely at the type of "slider" that was used in testing using the pendulum method. An S4 slider closely replicates hard soled shoes. Your tile supplier should be able to help you with your decision. If you are still in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly before purchasing your tiles.
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