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it's a matter of security (or common sense from the seller?)

What do we mean with slip-proof tile? Let's shed some light on methods and regulations

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The less noted yet very relevant characteristic regarding ceramic tiles is the so-called antislip. Antislip is nothing more than a surface’s capacity to limit or contrast any slipping and consequent fall when walking on it.

Generally speaking, this characteristic is not that important when it comes to a residential complex but it can become fundamental in exteriors, public or working places where any and all accidents could cause physical damages to the victim and significant repercussions to the surfaces’ manager. However the regulations do not clear up this topic, instead they result inadequate and easily misinterpretable.

First of all, there is no universal method to measure a tile’s antislip. In the italian ceramics domain there are two main ways while the others are less followed. Moreover, no actual regulative imposition is applied, resulting in companies not declaring this information. If they do, they establish their method themselves and publish the result of official tests regarding the first tiles produced.

All of this ends up in ceramic companies catalogues where many of the products are not matched with any antislip values and a minority (the one addressed to commercial or industrial places) is instead based on the testing method chosen by the company itself. To make things even worse, the different methods cannot be compared and sometimes contradict each other as they’re based on opposite concepts: the friction effect of tips and edges for the inclined plane method (DIN); the suction effect of the recesses for the BRC method. It is not necessarily true that when the antislip value is not declared for a tile, it is to be considered above the minimum and hence “safe”. It’s not as simple as that.

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THE MAIN TESTING METHODS USED BY THE CERAMIC INDUSTRIES

DIN method: it consists in having someone walk on a platform covered with tiles to be tested. A slippery liquid is then spilled on the surface while augmenting its inclination little by little until the person cannot keep the balance and slips. The operator is held with ropes to secure them. All the testing conditions (shoes, liquid; speed of platform inclination; etc…) are maintained steady; of course the situation changes according to the kind of person experimenting and it’s safe to say that the testing conditions are not realistic as they do not reflect the real usage of the floor.

The DIN method produces a value in a range between 9 and 13 (R9 for example) for tiles that can be walked on with footwear, or alphabetic (A B C) for surfaces that can be walked on with bare feet (poolside for example). In both cases the values are connected to the inclination angle provoked by the person sliding (See img. 1).

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BCR method: it is an instrumental method that does not depend on a physical person but on a mathematic formula. It consists in leaning a specific weight "P" on the floor (in plane) inserting a rubber and leather pillow (See img. 2). A pulling force is applied to the weight until the dragging starts. The friction coefficient results from the ratio Force/Weight (a value that can go from 0,1 to 1).

The resulting numeric value is evaluated with the appropriate value system. In this case the evaluation is nothing more than a mere concept (from “dangerous” to “excellent”), but it’s not subject to a human component and eases the comparison between different surfaces. The test takes into account the eventual practical conditions so it’s carried out with both wet and dry leather and rubber.

Unlike the DIN method, the BCR one always allows to test already laid tiles.

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CONCLUSIONS

As a result, we can say that even if a ceramic tile’s antislip would serve to avoid accidents, it is still overlooked by the companies regulations. In case of a controversy it will be very hard to ascribe certain responsabilities: how could anyone be right about such a disagreed cause? The company can affirm they have attained to the declared regulation (especially when there’s no “declared regulation”); the builder did not receive any specifics by the designer; the designer did not indicate a desired requirement; the installer simply used the material sent to the construction site; the end user chose the tiles without worrying about anything other than their look.
Chances are that the only visible proof will be given by the x-ray or orthopedic results. None of these evidences will provide us a concrete reason regarding the tiling itself.


Author: Maurizio Bardini