Can I use Non-Slip Flooring in my Home?
Any surface which becomes slippery when wet needs to be assessed for danger. This is especially relevant to any company or business operating in the UK.
It will not be long before this sensible approach is common-place in most, if not all domestic situations. In fact, most housing associations now install non-slip flooring or non-slip floor coverings during bathroom and wet room renovations in dwellings under their control.
There are probably more slipping "hazards" in the home than there are in any industrial setting. If you throw kids and pets into the mix, accidents become inevitable. This is due to the lack of legislation governing flooring surfaces in the home.
Potential dangers come in many areas also - Slippery access areas and fire escape steps. Slippery internal floors in kitchens and bathrooms where water spillages are common, decking areas etc.... all could certainly do with being made a bit safer by minimising the risks of any injuries.
As slip prevention in the workplace has been common practice for quite a while now, many of the manufacturers of safety flooring products are now producing the same quality and grade of flooring for the domestic market, albeit with a greater range of patterns and style.
In most cases these products come in sheet, tile or coating form which will cover pretty much any surface type. From simple stair nosing's to precision cut sheets, no-one need slip over again!
Benefits of Non Slip Flooring
Besides the obvious (being non-slippy) there are a few other advantages to this type of flooring:
- If you are running a business or in charge of a public space it will ensure that you are fully compliant with health and safety law
- It usually comes with a guarantee (will depend on manufacturer and installer)
- Most variations e.g. tiles, vinyl etc.... will be much tougher and hardwearing than traditional tiles or vinyl's. They will be able to withstand temperatures, impact, sustained foot traffic and in most cases will not tear or rip.
- Can be laid over, or painted on a variety of existing surfaces such as tiles, slate, marble and stone
- Easily cleaned and very hygienic making it ideal for kitchens, bathrooms and a whole host of commercial environments such as hospitals, caterers, leisure centres etc....
You may be thinking that most of the above is really only applicable when used commercially or in the work place and you would be right, but as this type of flooring is built to withstand things such as footfall, impacts, health and safety standards etc.... on an industrial scale. Think of how long it could last in your home, pretty much a lifetime!
How Rough Should a Surface be to be Non-Slip?
Well, in answer to this question it really depends on where the flooring is located and what the likely spillage is going to be as it all comes down to "microroughness".
A floors surface has to have enough microroughness to ensure that it breaks through a given spillage so that any pedestrians crossing the surface can maintain foot contact with the actual flooring. This will ensure a slow slip rating for the flooring and also that it reaches any required standards or specifications set by HE legislation.
In basic terms this means the thicker the spillage could be the rougher the surface needs to be.
In order to determine how effective a certain surface type is there are several tests that are used:
- Ramp Testing: This test involves a person walking repeatedly over a floors surface that is covered in either water or oil, at increasing angles, both barefoot and with shoes on. The point at which the person slips produces an "R" rating between 9 and 13 with R9 being the lowest and R13 being the highest. Aside from the R rating there is also another rating produced through a "DIN" test (this is the German National Standard test). This test is basically the same but the test subject either wears safety footwear and walks over oil with a set viscosity, or barefoot over a soap solution with a set viscosity. The results are rated from A to C, with C being the highest. It is always better to use the highest result flooring e.g. R13 or C
- Pendulum Testing: This test simulates the point at which a foot slips and breaks traction with a surface. A dummy foot is setup on a pendulum swing and is then swung down so that it just skims over the test surface. The higher the pendulum value (Slip Resistance Value or SRV) that it takes to break the traction provided by the floor, the higher the rating it receives. This is the test method used by the UK Health and Safety Executive but any flooring should reach a bare minimum value of 36
Another important consideration when it comes to testing is the "V Rating". This rating states how quickly any spillages (such as water) are dispersed from a surface. V0 is the worst and V10 is the best.
Health and Safety and Floor Slip Dangers
The Health and Safety at work Act 1974 (HSWA) requires employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work. This includes steps to control slip and trip risks (more information and guidelines can be found here).
When it comes to the above testing methods and the UK HSE they generally recommend the following:
- Bare Foot Areas: Floor surfaces should have at minimum an A, B or C rating (as stated above, use the highest rating possible)
- Shod Foot Areas: Floor surfaces should have at minimum an R rating (as stated above, best to use the highest grade)
As the regulations are subject to change, it is advised that you check the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Health and Safety at work act info for any updates – this can be found here.
The type of non-slip flooring to use very much depends on where it is going to be installed and whether it is a brand new floor covering or it is being added to an existing floor (non slip paint, varnish etc....).
The main non-slip flooring options and how they should be used can be summarised as follows:
Non-Slip Floor Tiles
As with standard floor tiles, there is a huge range of types and styles of available, both in ceramic and porcelain varieties.
Whereas standard tiles tend to have a gloss finish, this type of tile tends to have a textured, stone like finish as it is the textured surface that essential gives the tile its non-slip properties.
If you use standard tiles on a floor, especially in a kitchen or bathroom where water is likely to be spilled then it would quickly become as slippery as an ice rink greatly increasing the risk of injury.
Think of your local swimming pool. Have you ever noticed that the bottom of the pool (if it's tiled) feels quite rough? Well it's through texture that enables you to grip and stand up.
When it comes to use, this type of floor covering is ideally suited to wet rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, public/private swimming pools and even outdoor areas.
There aren't really any specialist techniques involved in the installation of this particular type of floor tile (unless stated by the manufacturer) so they can be laid in the same way as normal floor tiles. For more information on this see our project here.
Non-Slip Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl's and lino (or linoleum) historically have always been seen a little cheap and possibly naff. In recent years developments in production techniques and technology have helped it come on leaps and bounds, improving the looks and quality greatly.
Vinyl flooring is now more than a match for any of its rivals and in some cases can even be a better choice due to some of the following points:
- In most situations it comes on a roll as a sheet meaning it can be cut to any size and shape required
- The cutting and shaping can be done away from the room space it is being installed in allowing you to give yourself plenty of space to get it right
- It is generally less expensive than other flooring types and just as cost effective
- Joints and edges can be sealed using silicone to make it water tight
- It can be cleaned easily making it hygienic
Due to the above points it makes it a great choice for both the competent and novice DIYer. The only tricky element is if you have drains, grates, in-built structures etc.... as you will have to ensure that these are both cut in and also sealed correctly.
In terms of where it can be used, this covering is ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, wet rooms (check with manufacturer) and certain industrial environments.
When it comes installing this type of vinyl flooring it is done in very much the same way as traditional vinyl flooring. One important thing to note is that when you are ordering flooring such as this to fit yourself make sure you ″oversize″ the dimensions slightly (at least an inch) as this will give you a little leeway when making your cuts. If you order to the exact dimensions of the room space then your cuts are going to have to be absolutely spot on!
- If possible, first remove as many items as you can e.g. sink pedestals, plinths, bath panels etc.... as this will make the installation and cutting process much easier. Whatever is left in the installation area will need the vinyl fitting around or sliding under
- Draw a rough plan of the room area on a piece of paper including any remaining objects e.g. shower trays, kitchen units, toilets etc....
- Measure the room space accurately and note the dimensions on your plan. Also measure sizes of any objects in the room including any distances from walls.
- Find an area large enough to open your new flooring so that it is flat. You may be able to do this in another room in your home or outside in the garden. Once laid out measure the size of the flooring to see how it compares to the size of the room (remember what we mentioned about ordering more than you need above). If your flooring is made up of several sections that need to be joined, lay it in sections to the size of the room space
- Using a tape measure and marker pen (non-permanent), firstly mark the position of the door on your flooring by measuring in from the corners. Mark the position on the edge of the flooring and then measure in about an inch (or whatever you have allowed as overlap on each edge) and make a mark here also. Essentially you will then have the actual position and the excess position – When you start cutting you will be making your cuts to the excess positions that will then allow you to get the flooring in place and positioned before making the final fitted cuts
- As you have done with the door above, now do the same for any other fixed objects in the room. First measure their actual position and mark it on the flooring and then remember to mark at least an inch excess position also – Make sure you mark your excess points outside of the actual position and not inside which would make your final cuts and inch or so too short!!
- Note: In some cases it's possible to loosen items that are fixed to the floor and slide the vinyl or lino under it e.g. toilets, some shower trays, battens for bath panels. It's much more difficult to cut the flooring accurately than it is to simply slide it under
- Once you have marked out any objects, join the marked points so that you can see what objects are where and then roughly cut out any unwanted sections using a pair of scissors or a hobby knife (again, allow a little extra where you can)
- Roll up the flooring and transport it into the room area and carefully lay it out, sliding under any objects where you can. If you have sections, lay these out ensuring that any joints are at right angles to opposing walls and that they are not skewed
- With the flooring in place you should now be able to see exactly where your cuts need to be made. Before moving on, make sure that the flooring is in precisely the right place in the room area and that it is not too far one way or the other
- Starting at the door, use the back of a hobby knife to push the vinyl or lino right into the join where the floor meets the wall then flip the knife over and extend the blade and make your cut ensuring that you push the blade right into the joint. Make sure that you take your time and don't rush as once its cut that's it!
- Where you have corners, edges or angles you will need to make a cut (or several cuts) to allow the flooring to sit in place
- Once all is in place and positioned exactly where it should (jiggle it slightly if needed) be you can then make your final fitting cuts. Again take your time as this is it, once the cut is made that's the way it's going to stay. Additionally, make sure that you do not move the flooring as you are cutting your way round the room as if it slips away from one wall and you cut to fit on the opposing wall it will then be too short on the wall it has slipped from
- As mentioned, if you are dealing with sections of flooring these will need joining together and any joints sealing. How this is done will depend on manufacturer but in most cases you will have been supplied with a jointing paste or cement that you will need to line any joints with. This normally takes several hours to set but once it has it will ensure a water and moisture tight finish
- The last job is now to seal all edges. If that manufacturer has supplied a specific product for this purpose then it will need to be applied around all the edges of the room and any static items within it. If not, then you can use a suitable silicone or sanitary sealant
If you would like some more information on laying vinyl flooring there is a tutorial video at the base of this page.
Non-Slip Resin Flooring
This type of flooring is sometimes also known as textured flooring and also epoxy flooring. It is more commonly found in large areas such as car parks, warehouses, garages, workshops, gyms, leisure centres, nightclubs, walkways and other industrial and commercial environments.
In most cases the resin used will be clear and, once cured, will not noticeably change the colour or look of the original flooring which also makes it ideal for things such as block paving (but check with manufacturer's recommendations before applying).
In terms of installation, most products of this type will come in several parts, the resin, the hardener and the anti-slip coating.
- Before you start applying any resin, make sure that any surfaces are dry, clean and free of grease or contaminants. Most manufacturers will state how surfaces should be cleaned and what products should be used.
- Once surfaces are prepared the resin and hardener are mixed together for a set time stated by the manufacturer which then starts a chemical reaction that causes the resin to start setting.
- When the reaction has started you won't have much time to apply the resin to your chosen surface before its sets rock hard so you need to get it down as soon as possible. Use a paint brush or roller to apply to the surface evenly and then leave 24 hours to cure.
- When it comes to the actual ″non-slip″ part of the non-slip floor coating, this is normally applied next (if it hasn't been added to the resin mix – will depend on manufacturers guidelines). This coating will again differ depending on manufacturer and be any of the following:
- Glass beads
- Embedded aggregate
- Specialist course sand
- The non-slip coating is then sprinkled over the cured resin ensuring that it is evenly spread with no gaps and then a second resin and hardener mix is applied over the top. It is then left to cure for another 24 hours or so when it is then ready to use.
Other Non-Slip Floor Coatings
Due to the rise in awareness of slippery surfaces from health and safety legislation in the workplace many other non-slip coatings and products have emerged that can be used to protect pretty much any potentially unsafe surface, some of these are as follows:
Non-Slip Floor Paint and Varnish
Comes in a huge range of colours to suit all situations regardless of where they are so can easily be integrated with your own homes' particular styling.
In most cases the anti-slip features of paint will come in the form of aggregates (stone) that is added to the paint mix. Once the paint has dried and set the stone firmly in place then produces the non-slip surface as it then provides the required roughness needed to grip when the surface is moist.
This type of coating is ideally suited to the home as it can be easily applied to doorsteps and doorways, stairs, garage floors and any other area for that matter, not to mention many different commercial settings.
Installation can be as simple as brushing or painting with a roller onto the surface and letting it dry. Most manufacturers recommend at least 2 coats to ensure a long lasting finish and around 24 hours to ensure it's dry and ready to use.
Varnish coatings are also readily available and as with paints, can be applied to a great range of surfaces. Unlike the paints, most varnishes utilise either resin or glass balls to provide the anti-slip features, as being clear as the varnish is, they don't effect the actual finish.
Providing decking is the most common use of this coating but it can be used on a variety of other surfaces.
Non-Slip Decking and Deck Flooring
Both of the above paints and varnishes can be used on decking but as this is one of the most commonly found slippery surfaces in and around the home, decking also benefits from quite a substantial range of other products that have been specially made to solve this problem.
Decking strips are the most common solution to this problem and in many ways the most cost effective.
Plastic or metal strips are coated in a fine grit (either sand or aggregate) and then the strips are screwed down to the decking. Some (normally the metal-backed variety) can be inserted and fixed into the grooves within the decking boards as can be seen in the image below.
Although they don't cover an entire decked area, if used in critical areas such as steps they can provide adequate grip and prevent any slippages.
If you are a reasonably competent DIYer then installing most flooring types and getting a great finish should be more than in your grasp but if you are a little new to the scene and don't feel too confident in tackling a job of this nature then we can help you get a tradesman – check out our find a tradesman service here.
If you have any questions about non slip flooring of any kind, visit our question and answer forum.