How long will my Anti Slip last?
“Ok, so you know that proverbial piece of string? It’s about the same length as the amount of time your anti slip treatment will last”.
It’s a serious question, one we get asked often and like the length of that piece of string a difficult one to answer.
First of all let’s look at the different types of treatments available on the market. The two main solutions in today’s Anti Slip arena are the Coatings and the Surface Modifiers. Each solution has its merits and each it’s shortcoming.
Modifications, these treatments do almost exactly what the name implies, they “modify” the surface of the tile or stone. Sometimes referred to as “etching” the process is a simple one. Acids dissolve the calcium carbonate on the surface. Providing the actual surface has some calcium in it and it is evenly distributed, this process works well.
Eating away the surface may sounds aggressive, but a skilled contractor will know just how strong and for how long to apply this treatment. In most cases it will leave the surface looking much the same but much safer to walk on in the wet.
Because this process modifies the existing surface the tile will maintain its original hardness which is a real plus in effective life.
The grip is achieved by introducing microscopic hollows or channels in the surface. It’s not until the ridges between the hollows wear down that the grip or traction reduces. Depending on the tile and the type and volume of traffic this modification can last 5-10 years or more.
Are there drawbacks with surface modification?
Because a microscopic depressions is created in the surface, these hollows are a great place for dirt to hide. It’s critical that the surface is kept as clean as possible and as much of the debris is removed. The underlying principal is much the same as the tread pattern on your car tire. The channels there allow rain to be moved away from the road. This prevents a water film building up between the road surface and the tire. Without this displacement of water aquaplaning occurs under breaking, acceleration or turning. When your tires are bald this water displacement is poor and the tire will slide in the wet.
CHANGES IN APPEARANCE
Depending on the amount of slip reduction required it may be necessary to introduce deep micro channels into the surface. Depending on the type of tile, the color and gloss there may be a visible (matting) of the surface. When treated correctly there should be no change in color of the surface, just a possible dulling.
ANTI SLIP COATINGS
This anti slip treatment sit on top of an existing surface and generally contains additives. These can be sand, aluminum oxide or Carborundum. The medium that carries the grit can vary significantly. Epoxy and poly urethane are typically used and the grit is either mixed in or broadcast on the surface.
The benefits of this type of treatment are color range, chemical resistance and maintenance. Originally developed for Industrial commercial and laboratory environments these types of coatings are now very common in domestic environments.
The effectiveness of this treatment and its serviceable life vary considerably. It is heavily dependent on the skill of the contractor and the type of traffic. Even distribution of the grit additive is critical to ensure the anti slip qualities are consistent across the whole surface area. Poor quality or rushed work will often lead to clumping or “bald” sections with little or no surface grit.
These coatings rely on traction being gained on the particles sitting above the average surface level. This is a great way to grip the sole however the effectiveness of the coating is reliant on grit remaining sharp and exposed. This feature also makes this surface unsuitable for areas where exposed skin will come into contact with the floor. Once the grit has worn down or smoothed off this surface can be extremely slippery when exposed to water .
Depending on the amount and type of traffic these coatings have an effective life between 2 and 5 years.
There is no doubt that the surface modification will have a longer life. The maintenance required to keep the surface effective may outweigh the sought after longevity. If you decide to head down the coating path the maintenance cycle will be less demanding. Make sure however you are prepared to re-coat every few years to ensure the grit stays exposed and sharp.