If you are working with stone tile for flooring, or even ceramics or other tiles, you may receive a request from a customer for a slip-resistant floor. To apply this, there are many treatments that can be purchased to make a tile surface slip-resistant. These treatments fall into two categories: coatings and chemical/physical treatments that alter the surface of the tile.
Coatings can be waxes, acrylics or other commercially available products. The coating places a thin layer of material on the surface of the tile. The tile will then be only as slippery as the coating itself.
Warning: Not all coatings provide slip resistance. In fact some coatings will make a floor more slippery. Before specifying a coating, contact the manufacturer of the coating and ask for slip-resistance test data. Many of the coating manufacturers are very familiar with slip resistance. Make sure the coating can be used on the tile surface you are installing. Certain coatings will not adhere to polished stone or porcelain and require coatings specified for those surfaces.
There are now also special treatments available that chemically or physically alter the surface of a tile and can be applied to render it slip resistant. Hydrofluoric acid treatment is the primary one. The acid attacks the surface of the tile and creates microscopic holes. This is what is typically called etching of the surface. This process works effectively on many surfaces but can decrease the service life of the tile. Once the surface is treated with this method, maintenance will increase. Because these treatments contain a very dangerous acid, they should only be applied by trained individuals. Contact your local tile supply store for recommended contractors.
The issue of slip resistance is of major concern in the United States. Lawsuits are on the increase as con artists continue their search for the big payoff. Large hotels, banks and other big corporate building owners are their main targets but they are also targeting the small business. The corner food store and the local gas station are not exempt.
However, there are times when a floor surface is not safe. Many factors contribute to the slipperiness of the floor. Water, grease, oil and debris scattered on a floor all can contribute to its slipperiness. The competent architect and designer cannot control what happens to the floor after it's installed, but he/she can get it started properly.
How To Minimize Slip/Fall Accidents
In addition to coatings and treatments, another way you can assist your flooring customer is to provide him or her with information on how to minimize slips. You may want to consider giving all customers this information in writing.
Although it will be impossible to prevent all slip/fall accidents, there are several precautionary procedures that building owners, cleaning companies and others can take to minimize risk.
The following are some suggestions and are not intended to replace legal advice if an accident occurs: