What Is A Tile Slip Rating And Why It Matters2

What Is A Tile Slip Rating And Why It Matters

If you’ve ever shopped for tiles, you may have heard the phrase “tile slip rating” thrown around – but what does it actually mean, and why does it matter?

The options for types of flooring are almost limitless, and selecting the right type for your home isn’t an easy feat. With each home, comes a different preference or priority: are you chasing style, functionality, or simply want to stay within the budget? The good news is that a new tile can tick all of these boxes, which is why they have remained a popular flooring material for generations. 

Tiles manufactured and sold within Australia often come with a medley of ratings that cover a broad variety of functions – think tile wear ratings, tile variation ratings, water absorption, and of course the all important tile slip rating, with the latter being of particular importance in both residential and commercial construction projects. However, these terms aren’t exactly easy to navigate for the average shopper, so what exactly does it translate to?

Understanding A Tile Slip Rating 

As of May 1, 2014, the Building Code of Australia (BCA) introduced amendments to include specific requirements surrounding slip resistance for buildings. These requirements were introduced to enhance building designs, in order to minimise the risk of slips to and within buildings and extended to ramps, stairways and landings. A residential building that does not have tiles in any of the above areas has no requirement for slip resistant flooring.  

While a national code does exist for a tile slip rating, these essentially relate only to commercial applications for pedestrians in public places like shopping centres or commercial kitchens where:  

  • The usage differs from private residences;
  • The foot traffic is much higher than in private residences; 
  • The area or type of surface being walked is likely to be unfamiliar;
  • The maintenance and level of cleaning is unknown; and
  • The removal of contaminants on the floor, which is the most common cause of slipping, is also unknown.

The principal methods employed to test slip resistance in Australia are the ramp (‘R’ rating) and the pendulum (‘P’ rating) tests. Some specifiers use both methods to evaluate if the tile is suitable for a specific project or not. 

The Pendulum Test (P0 -P5) measures friction between a rubber slider mounted on a pendulum arm and a wet tile, with the concept being to mimic a shoe heel striking a wet tile. The slip resistance value is then given a rating (P0 -P5).

There are two methods to test tiles using the ramp test method:

  1. Wet barefoot inclining platform test
  2. Oil-wet inclining platform test

The Oil-Wet Ramp Test (R9 – R13) involves laying tiles on a ramp and applying oil or water to the surface of the tiles. The tester walks on the inclined tiles to determine the angle at which they become unsafe for testing. The angle used determines the degree of slip resistance.

The tile slip rating is in turn issued with other rankings that relate to the tile’s overall water composition and wear ratings, although the latter is not generally an essential or legal requirement for commercial grade construction projects.

The below tile slip rating requirements are an excerpt from HB 198 Guide to the Specification and Testing of Slip Resistance of Pedestrian Surfaces, which was developed and released as a handbook by Australian Standards Committee BD-094, Slip Resistance of Flooring Surfaces in 2014. 

The purpose behind the new publication was to outline some of the key changes that were introduced to the new slip testing standards:

  • AS 4586-2013 Slip Resistance Classification of New Pedestrian Surface materials; and
  • AS 4663-2013 Slip Resistance Measurement of Existing Pedestrian Surfaces

As well as outlining changes to the way in which the testing methods have been altered, the Handbook was developed to outline the introduction of the prescriptive requirements of the 2014 version of the Building Code of Australia (BCA), also known as the National Construction Codes (NCC).

Previously, the Building Codes had only stated that stairs and ramp have non-slip or non-slip nosing which were not quantified; however now these parts of buildings are required in many instances to now have formal testing and assessments to be carried out and certified by councils or a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) such as a building surveyor. The table below is a simplified indication as to what tile slip rating is required, and where. 

Stair Treads and a Stairway Landings- (Nosings Pendulum only) – DRY P3 R10
Stair Treads and a Stairway Landings- (Nosings Pendulum only) – DRY P4 R11
Ramps not steeper than 1:14 gradient – DRY P3 R11
Ramps not steeper than 1:14 gradient – WET P4 R11
Entry foyers hotel, office, public buildings and internal lift lobbies – WET P3 R10
Entry foyers hotel, office, public buildings and internal lift lobbies – TRANSITIONAL P2 R9
Entry foyers hotel, office, public buildings and internal lift lobbies – DRY P1 R9
Toilet facilities in office, hotels, shopping centres P3 R10
Hotel apartment bathrooms, en suites and toilets P2 A
Hotel apartment kitchens and laundries P2 R9
Fast food outlets, buffet food servery areas, food courts and fast food dining areas in shopping centres P3 R10
Shop and supermarket fresh fruit and vegetable areas P3 R10
Shop entry areas with external entrances P3 R10
Supermarket aisles (except fresh food areas) P1 R9
Other separate shops inside shopping centres – WET P3 R10
Other separate shops inside shopping centres – DRY P1 R9
Loading docks under cover and commercial kitchens P5 R12
Serving areas behind bars in public hotels and clubs, cold stores & freezer P4 R11
Swimming pool ramps and stairs leading to water P5 C
Swimming pool ramps surrounds and communal shower rooms P4 B
Communal changing rooms P3 A
Undercover concourse areas of sports stadiums P3 R10
Bathrooms and ensuites in hospitals and aged care facilities P3 B
Wards and corridors in hospital and aged care facilities P2 R9

Sourcing Further Assistance With Tile Slip Ratings

In 2021, your options for tiles are almost limitless, and selecting the right type for your home or commercial project isn’t an easy feat. When it comes to tiling materials for a commercial project, it’s also crucial that you do your research and receive the right advice and information before you start buying materials, as failure to do so could have you facing costly amendments in the future. Thankfully, sourcing help from the professionals is actually easier than you might have once thought. 

In operation for over 24 years, at Tile Wizards we pride ourselves on getting you more, for less. We pioneered the warehouse format, and our stores are purposefully designed to make your selection easier, and ultimately offer our customers quality, price and the right advice. 

Even if you are just after some honest and friendly advice – please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Tile Wizards today for a free quote. We’re able work with you in order to bring your dream flooring solution to life.