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Latest Slip Rating Requirements

We find that there is a great deal of confusion and misinterpretation surrounding the Australian Standards of Slip resistance classification of new pedestrian surface materials (AS 4586-2013) and its specified slip-ratings.

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We find that there is a great deal of confusion and misinterpretation surrounding the Australian Standards of Slip resistance classification of new pedestrian surface materials (AS 4586-2013) and its specified slip-ratings. In order to ensure the correct anti-slip tile surface is used for specific areas, it is crucial to follow the guidelines set out in Handbook (Guide to the specification and testing of slip resistance of pedestrian surfaces, HB 198:2014). The last thing you want is to slip on the stairs or have outdoor ramps not suitable for wheelchair users. The previous mentioned and other heavy traffic wet areas, such as swimming pools, commercial kitchens and hospitals are very well documented in the above-mentioned guide. Knowing that the Australian Standards for slip-ratings are one of the strictest in the world, P5 slip rating being one of the highest finishes, we are generally well protected when it comes to application and choice.

Before reading and going into details about slip-ratings, it is crucial to understand whether it will be WET or DRY area for most of the time. All outdoor areas will face rain and therefore are considered WET. Bathrooms and toilets are WET areas too. However, all lobby’s, restaurants, shopping centres, will be considered as DRY. It is important to specify tiles or other surface finishes that perform best in DRY or WET settings. Quite often, different finishes have different reaction when DRY and WET. For example, polished tiles have more grip when DRY than a matt tile, but opposite happens when WET.

FOCUS ON WET-PENDELUM REQUIREMENTS FOR COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL AREAS

Here, we would like to go more into detail about the common areas in commercial, hospitality and residential applications where design elements are important with the focus on entry lobbies, bars, restaurants, residential bathrooms, etc., which we find often to be misunderstood. These areas are where aesthetics play a very crucial part to achieve a certain impression and striking interior. If we look at the extract from HB 198:2014, considering areas for Wet-Pendulum testing Table 3A and Table 3B, then we can see the following:

P5

(the highest and most anti-slip finish)

    • This is only required for outdoor ramps steeper than 1:14 for entrances into residential or commercial areas. (P4 for less steep ramps)
    • This is a slip rating that would be required for some heavy-duty wet areas such as commercial kitchens and swimming pool ramps, with a very rough finish, such as the picture below.

 

 

As you can see in this picture, this is a very rough finish that is difficult to clean. Only areas that are almost constantly exposed to water, such as outdoor areas would require this finish.

P4

(rough finish, similar to P5)

    • Wet stair treads and wet stairway landings (outdoor)
    • Serving areas behind bars in public hotels and clubs, cold stores and freezers.

 

Similar to P5, it is rough finish too, that is not easy to clean. Except some outdoor applications, it is only required in a serving area behind bars, which would rarely be seen by public.

P3

P3 finish in the context that we are focusing on, is only required for:

    • Wet areas (outdoor areas) of entryway and access areas including hotels, offices, public buildings, schools, kindergartens, common areas of public building and internal lift lobbies. If the areas are dry, then a normal P1 rating is sufficient.
    • Shopping centre food courts must have P3 finish, otherwise P1 is sufficient in all other shopping centre areas.
    • Toilet facilities in offices, hotels and shopping centres.

 

Most common finish for outdoor areas as well as wet high-traffic public areas such as toilets. Large number of matt tiles can achieve a P3 slip-rating, however limited options of design elements and colours would be available as they tend to be muted and mundane in offerings.

P2

P2 finish is required for:

    • Transitional areas, but transitional areas can be a design feature such as awnings, drains, mats, air locks, etc (as per definition in HB 198:2014 clause 5.3 (b)). See in the picture below.
    • Hotel apartment bathrooms and kitchens.

 

 

P2 finish, as basically only required for transitional areas, which can be achieved by putting a simple door mat, such as in the picture below, being used in the entry lobbies of Four Seasons Hotel as well as Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney.

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney with P3 outdoor finish, transitional mat and P1 (polished) indoor lobby floor

Pier One Hotel Sydney with P3 outdoor finish, transitional mat and P1 (polished) indoor lobby floor

Duo Residences Central Park Sydney with polished indoor entrance lobby floor (P1 finish)

P1

P1 finish is the lowest rating available and every tile (as P0 rating does not exist), even polished and lappato will achieve a minimum P1 rating. It is suitable for any other areas such as:

    • Entry lobbies and access areas including hotels, offices, public buildings, schools, kindergartens, common areas of public buildings and internal lift lobbies when DRY.
    • Supermarket aisles
    • Shopping centres
    • Residential lobbies, walkways corridors
    • Residential bathroom and kitchens
    • Any other area in commercial or residential application, which is not mentioned above.

Most public DRY areas do not require any specific slip-rating and any tile, including polished, can be used. Such as in the picture below, most 5-star hotels, residential lobby’s, shopping centres and airports use polished finish.

In conclusion, after reading carefully, we can say that to comply with Australian Standards in most DRY areas in commercial, hospitality and retail scenarios it can be ANY tile on the market, as only P1 finish is required.

It should be noted that besides stairs and ramps, there are no Slip Resistance requirements for residential installations. This uncovers design possibilities using a larger range of available options including polished, honed and lappato finishes, which even applies in wet areas such as bathrooms where tiles with a P1 finish are still suitable.

REQUIREMENTS IN SLIP-RATING FOR DRY AREAS

Another, even more important test, is the Dry Friction test. There is not much point in testing areas that are 99% of the time dry, to the wet area requirements. Main reason therefore is the fact that different surfaces react differently when dry compared to when wet. Polished finish when dry has more grip than a matt tile and that is where large part of confusion is coming from.

The classification of pedestrian surface materials according to the AS4586-2013 Dry floor friction test should generally have a higher coefficient of friction than ≥0.40 to be considered as suitable and safe (see table 2 in clause 2.5 of HB 198:2014). Polished surface finishes achieve values between 0.62 to 0.67, which generously passes the minimal requirements. Please note that certain matt finishes have a lower coefficient of friction with values between 0.55 to 0.65.

There are many reasons why polished is a preferred finish for the above mention applications (such as lobbies, etc.). Aesthetics plays an important part when selecting polished finish for those areas. Most hotels, hospitality and retail interiors mainly opt for the polished finish for both aesthetical and functional purposes. Both polished and matt tiles have their own place in interior design. Polished finish will bounce and reflect light off the smooth surface which gives an impression a “luxurious”, lighter and brighter ambiance, whereas matt finish absorbs light with a little natural light reflection which emits a soft and subtle feel. Another main reason is the fact that polished finish is easy to maintain as it does not tend to attract dirt and in combination with seamless joint tiling (only suitable for polished tiles) and larger format tiles, grout will become a non-issue as well.

Evidently, it is up to the client to determine the terms of the finish they favour, depending on personal preferences for aesthetical as well as the functionality of the space. When selecting tiles, one of the factors to keep in mind is that polished tiles when dry, tend to have more grip than honed or matte tiles. Occasionally customers would like to take less risk with a more “grippy” tile especially in their bathroom, however as there are no specific requirement, anything between P1 and P5 can be suitable.

One of the many considerations when specifying P5-rated tiles, is the fact that they are “grippy”. It also means they will attract and hold a lot of dirt and might be very hard to clean and to maintain, which should be taken into account as well. As a supplier, we often see an over-specification of higher slip ratings in areas which do not have a requirement for high slip resistance finishes. By over-specifying slip resistant tiles in internal dry areas, it severely limits choice in design of tiles and adds increased maintenance time and cost for the end user. Tiles starting from P3, specifically P4/P5 finish tend to be muted, cold and very mundane in offerings, they give a rough outdoor look to the space and might not be very attractive in some interiors. Unique looks that replicate precious stones and rare marbles, will hardly come in those finishes.