Can a Floor be Too Slip Resistant?

As floor slip resistance testing experts with decades of experience, we’re sometimes asked if a floor can be too slip resistant, usually by someone who is trying to sell a flooring that is likely too slippery for a particular application. The answer, put simply, is no. There is no such thing as a floor that’s too slip resistant in almost every case imaginable. 

Parking lots and roads across the world are almost always made of an incredibly slip resistant material called asphalt. It has sharp rocks in it, and asphalt has been designed to make it possible for a fully-loaded 18-wheeler truck going 80mph down the highway to be able to stop as quickly as possible before hitting a baby stroller in a crosswalk. Being highly slip resistant is perhaps its most important property.

Pendulum test values (PTV) of asphalt parking lots and roads around the world usually range, on average, from 50 to 75 PTV (this number is sometimes called BPN, for British Pendulum Number, or SRV, for Slip Resistance Value). Through decades of international research with the pendulum slip resistance test device, those numbers mean that almost all parking lots and roads made of asphalt around the globe have very high slip resistance, as they should. We all hate hearing stories of baby strollers being run over in crosswalks!

Image of highly slip resistant parking lot asphalt

Highly Slip Resistant Parking Lot Asphalt

However, there has yet to be a company created on earth (that we’re aware of) that specializes in polishing parking lots, sidewalks, and roads because too many pedestrians have found them to be too slip resistant. There are no freeway billboards advertising law firms that will “get you what you deserve!” if you’ve tripped on a slip resistant sidewalk while out for an afternoon stroll because the sidewalk was too slip resistant. It just doesn’t happen.

Trip accidents do occur, to be sure, but they almost entirely involve some sort of obvious change in elevation of the floor, or an obstruction, such as when a tree root lifts a section of sidewalk up over many years, leaving a lip of concrete protruding a few inches above the rest of the level sidewalk, which the pedestrian must recognize and navigate over. Folded up floor mats can be a trip hazard, and so can uneven stairs that have not been built properly, without each stair having the same height.

Highly Slip Resistant Concrete Sidewalk

Highly Slip Resistant Concrete Sidewalk

Sometimes people can trip over parking blocks in parking lots, sometimes known as wheelstops, that are seemingly hidden in between cars, as people are focusing more on their phone than the parking lot they are traversing across to get to the stores or market.

Trip Accident over Asphalt Curb

Trip Accident over Asphalt Curb

Slippery floors are certainly an epidemic in the USA, and slip and fall lawyers, emergency room doctors, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and many types of surgeons are all well aware of that fact.

Tripping almost always involves some sort of obstruction, not a flooring that has high slip resistance. So is there such a thing as a flooring that is too slip resistant? Not really. Not in the vast majority of situations. No.

Highly slip resistant floors such as asphalt and concrete sidewalks are often hard to get spotlessly and hygienically clean, however. You would not want to put rough asphalt in an operating room, for instance. This is an example of an area that you want to be able to get spotlessly clean.

And you want to keep floors that are easy to clean dry, because they are more often than not slippery when wet. Asphalt (parking lots and roads) and broomed concrete (sidewalks) inherently have lots of pores and texture within the surface that can store dirt, and that dirt can be hard to remove. So smoother, less gritty floors can be easier to clean and do serve a purpose in certain very specific situations, but that’s not to say that highly slip resistant floors can be a problem for pedestrians walking on them. Quite the opposite! Slip resistant floors are safe for pedestrians. Floors that are slippery when wet pose the problems, and they’re what make the personal injury law business in the USA a gold rush!

Highly slip resistant flooring covers the vast majority of the floors that the average human being walks on from day to day as they traverse parking lots, sidewalks, and roads, while jogging, shopping for essentials, heading to work or a meal out, checking the mail box, and taking the dogs for a walk. There is no epidemic of highly slip resistant floors in America, but as any slip and fall lawyer will tell you, there is no lack of slippery floors installed each and every day across the country. That’s where the epidemic lies.

Slippery floors that cause catastrophic and life-changing injuries can be tested for slip resistance and there are slippery floor solutions. Floors should be tested for slip resistance before they’re installed to assure the architect or specifier isn’t installing a problem. That’s why there’s a need for reliable floor slip resistance testing companies. But there’s no need for “parking lot polishing companies”. Of that we can likely rest assured. 

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