Beware of Slippery Finished-in-Place Floors Installed by Clueless Contractors
Some floors are covered with premanufactured stuff, such as marble, granite or ceramic tiles, wood, or vinyl composite tile. Other floors are created in place — including epoxy, terrazzo, and concrete. Topical sealers added to premanufactured floors also constitute a finished-in-place surface — the pedestrian is not walking on the flooring, but on the sealer.
Wet slip resistance depends not so much on what the composition of the material is (concrete, tile, etc.), but what surface texture it’s given when it’s installed. For instance, concrete can be highly polished, broom finished, or rock-salt finished. The fineness of polish, or the force on the broom, or the size and amount of rock salt can determine whether the surface will be slippery when wet. Concrete is not inherently slip-resistant when wet.
We have encountered many cases where the situation goes like this:
The contractor installs the flooring and gets paid. Later, the customer discovers that the floor is treacherous when wet and she fears injuries and lawsuits will result. The contractor, meanwhile, had no idea what the wet slip resistance was because he has never tested the floor and has no assurance from his suppliers what the wet slip resistance will be. He (or she) was operating on guesswork and the client’s money.
The customer calls back the contractor, who tries to remedy the situation by grinding, adding sand, or whatever trick he guesses might work — while again having no idea what the new slip resistance will be. Predictably, often the problem is not solved and the contractor is called back yet again.
We provide on-site floor slip resistance testing services that tell the customer whether success has been achieved. But sometimes we have to go back to the property four or five times before the contractor gets it right, since he’s guided mainly by his guesswork. Meanwhile, thousands of people using the property when the floor is wet or greasy can be continuously exposed to risk of life-changing injuries while the contractor makes clumsy trial-and-error attempts to solve the problem.
The most obvious way to prevent this safety problem is to hire a contractor who knows what the slip resistance will be before he lays down the flooring. Reliable DCOF slip test data using the pendulum tester are necessary. Appropriate safety criteria (e.g. a minimum wet Pendulum Test Value of 25, 35, 45, or 55) depend on the situation (e.g. corridor in aged care facility, undercover concourse, swimming pool level deck, swimming pool ramp).
If the contractor doesn’t know the expected slip resistance, the customer should have a test done on a small area — say, a three-foot circle or square. Don’t wait to do the first testing after the contractor has done 10,000 square feet. (You’d be surprised how often we encounter this situation.) It’s easier and cheaper to correct a three-foot area!
Once a slipping problem exists, a simple and fast solution is to coat the surface with Safety Direct America’s SparkleTuff™ transparent abrasive anti-slip coating. This is durable (it passes the McDonalds Restaurants test for Sustainable Slip Resistance) and is highly glossy and attractive despite having excellent wet slip resistance for nearly any situation. It will retain its wet slip resistance even after hundreds of thousands of people have walked across it — in two years or ten years. It’s easy to clean, kind to bare feet, and does not turn yellow in sunlight. Its excellent slip resistance has been verified by every legitimate test. No guesswork required.
SparkleTuff™ is a do-it-yourself product that anyone who can paint with a roller can apply; see the simple application video. Looks great — no slips! Material cost is about $1 per square foot — cheaper than a broken hip!