Slip Resistant Tiles

What is a slip resistant tile?

Tiles or ceramic tiles have different strengths, and this is determined by the porosity. The porosity of the tile is influenced by the extent of firing during the manufacturing process. The porosity determines the ability to absorb water. Tiles which absorb less the 0.5% by weight of water are known as fully vitrified tiles.

Tiles have surface layers ; they can be unglazed, glazed or have a surface profile.

Unglazed floor tiles are not normally slippery when clean and dry, but when wet they can be very slippery. They also become slippery if they are dirty with dust, grease, oil or wax.

The roughness of a tile is measured in microns and typically varies from under 5 microns (low) to around 20 microns (high). The roughness depends on the type of tile and the glazing finish.

Fully vitrified glazed tiles are smooth and so only suitable for dry, well maintained areas. Vitrified Glazed tiles which contain abrasive grit can be safely used in areas which may get dirty. For Quarry tiles (as often used in kitchens) an aggregate such as carborundum grit can be added either throughout the whole tile or as a surface coating to improve slip resistance.

The above is for new unworn tiles, but as tiles wear their properties can change, and they usually become more slippery. In public places with high traffic it is common for different tiles or tiles with a slip resistant finish to be used in the busiest areas. There are British Standards that relate to this (BS 5385-3). When an aggregate is added as a surface finish then the tile will become slippery with wear. But if instead it is added throughout the tile, then the tile will still retain much of the non slip characteristics after wear.

Clay and brick pavers have good slip resistance in wet and dry conditions, which is why they are so popular outside in public places. Provided they are maintained normally then clay pavers have satisfactory slip/skid resistance (BS EN 1344).

When purchasing tiles or pavers it is therefore important to ensure you get the right type of tile. THis is particularly true of non slip tiles. Websites such as help with a tile search which  can be based on area of use.

Published on 18/06/2011

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