While a lot of the Construction and Maintenance industries have been doing it tough over the last few years, the Anti Slip floor treatment industry continues to grow. Some of the driving forces behind this growth are obvious, things like fraudulent insurance claims or the ease of "no win no fee" litigation for this type of injury.
One of the hidden but important reasons for the increase in our business is the Architects and Designers, they are often driven to impress potential clients by creating visual perfection that often takes over the practical considerations. Like like high heel shoes, the need to have something that look sexy no matter how impractical will regularly trump good old common sense.
For many years the role of the Specifier has been an important one in keeping a "practical" eye on the types of materials and their suitability, however like a lot of jobs in almost every industry this role has been taken over by a well written set of ones and zeros, and while being fantastic at reducing cost and always knowing where to get what, these software programs have no idea of why that high gloss granite tile shouldn't be used in the new foyer.
The Architect or builder is not always to blame however, very often the client has the final call on these types of decision and without a basic understanding of COF (Coefficient of Friction) his or her decision is made with the heart ruling the head, and the highly polished granite or impractical ceramics will end up on a floor that has direct access to the outside of the development, and often exposure to the elements.
These heart over head decisions are common in all aspects of life, from the new car to that chocolate treat, but choosing floor tiles is a decision that's expensive and difficult to reverse.
HOW TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION
Arriving at the correct decision on the choice of floor tile will be different journey for everyone, but starting at the right place is critical to ensure a good outcome.
If you are the one signing off, there are a series of practical questions you should ask yourself in the early stages of the process... questions like:
Do you have elderly clients visit?
Will the surface ever be exposed to water contamination?
Does the surface lead to an external door?
What types of footwear will people be wearing?
Do you really need a high gloss surface?
The answers to these type of questions will form the foundation for a solid decision-making process.
We are regularly told that the retailer clearly stated "these tiles are anti slip". That well used statement is often heard when making choices for bathroom or wet areas. For peace of mind you should always ask the "Slip Rating" of the tile or if it has been certified by a local testing authority. It is rare that a manufacturer will ever go to the trouble or expense of having his tiles formally rated here.
If your still unsure, a great simple test to check if the tile is safe is to take it from the shelf, put it on the floor and ask the sales person for a cup of water, wet the tile and see for yourself.
Remember most commercial or retail environments will attract a wide variety of pedestrian traffic with leather and synthetic soled shoes, so it's important to think about who will be visiting the property and what surface will provide the best all round protection for the public.
Rectifying a bad choice in floor tiles can be a very expensive exercise and often it will be necessary to reduce the refraction or shine of the surface in order to increase the traction. There are however several surface coatings available in the market that will maintain the gloss. These coating treatments can help the COF particularly when there is water contamination, however these products are all "maintenance" coatings and will require regular re-application, particularly in high traffic corridors like doorways and reception areas.