Slip resistant glass flooring was one of the hot topics discussed during the GANA Annual Conference this past March in Las Vegas.

Architects and designers are using more and more glass, making glass walkways very trendy, however, this is not the only reason the subject was discussed.

Slips and falls are a major cause of injury in the USA and Canada. In fact, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), “floors and flooring materials contribute directly to more than 2 million injuries related to falls each year”. Furthermore, 85% of worker’s compensation claims are attributed to employees slipping on slick floors! And lastly, a total of $13-14 million per year can be accredited to injuries in the USA due to slips and falls.

It’s safe to say that the type of flooring used in any building whether it be residential or commercial is not something to be overlooked.

There are various factors that affect the slipperiness of flooring or walkways. For instance, the material used, the wear of the floor surface, if there are slopes, narrow stairs, or uneven surfaces, the environment (inside versus outside), and the displacement space (the cavity between the raised sections of the tile beneath the tread level). Of course other factors such as footwear, contaminants, and the pedestrian in question are also important to consider. With all these factors at play, it is easy to see that there is no such thing as an “anti-slip” floor, but rather different ratings of a slip resistant floor.

As a flooring manufacturer you may be wondering what you can control. Here are a few things:

  • How slippery is the surface and should it be used as a flooring material
  • How production processes can affect the slip resistance of the material
  • How wear can affect the surface of the flooring material
  • And guidelines on how to clean the surface of the floor and maintenance

Now the question becomes; how do we measure this?

The good news is there are many testing equipment such as:

  • The manual drag sled test (ASTM C1028), which was actually withdrawn in 2014. This was a very popular test and is still used in literature. The fact that it has been withdrawn does not mean it is no longer applicable.
  • The British Pendulum (ASTM E303)
  • The Tortus I, II, III
  • And BOT 3000 and 3000E

The bad news is there is a lack of correlation between all these tests and the human assessment of how slippery different walkways are! This is exactly what the ASTM E2751 (Standard for Design and Performance of Supported Glass Walkways) task group is trying to decipher in order to bring guidance on the preferred testing method.

The industry is now focusing more on the dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) as opposed to the static coefficient of friction (SCOF), due to the fact that it takes less force to keep a body in motion than it does to impede movement from a static position. Also, most slips occur under wet conditions so the evaluation of slip resistance should always be done under these conditions.

So what about glass floors and walkways?

As a glass manufacturer, there are several factors to keep in mind. The look or aesthetics of the stairs or walkway is of course a primary concern for architects and designers. Light penetration and diffusion are also key elements. Acid-etched glass is great because it does not impede the flow of natural light thus making a room appear larger and generally natural sunlight improves people’s mood. Why not take advantage of this aspect.

There is also the modesty issue, otherwise known as an improper line of sight, which is an important factor especially when designing stairs or passageways with glass. Too much transparency is not ideal for these applications. Walker Textures® Traction acid-etched glass has a unique combination of opacity and translucency which provides for full privacy.

Finally, the crucial factor is the wear. Since glass is fairly brittle the wear resistant properties are very important. Traction acid-etched glass does not use coatings, paints or appliqués which can be susceptible to wear and chipping. Acid-etched glass is a permanent solution that can be used in interior and exterior applications and test results have proven its high resistance to wear.

The slip resistant properties of Traction, combined with its attractive design and allowing for maximum circulation of light between floors, make it the ultimate glass flooring product!

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