The tile industry is no different from any other industry in that we are constantly discovering new or better ways to evaluate products and their efficiencies. Within the past year, our industry changed the way we measure a tile’s surface in relation to slip resistance.
The new developments surround the Coefficient of Friction (COF) data and how it is measured and used. In the past, we used a Static COF (SCOF) threshold value for flat floors that could be walked on when wet at 0.6. The industry-approved changes included the adoption of a Dynamic COF (DCOF) test, which set a new standard for the value to be placed at 0.42 for floors of the same application. The cause for the change is due in part to the fact that for many years, the 0.6 threshold was used widely, but the way it was measured varied. The dynamic value has been used for a while in Europe, showing more reliable results.
The main difference is that the SCOF tests tile by pulling on a 50-pound weight placed on the face of a tile, measuring how much force is needed to begin motion. To put it in laymen’s terms, picture someone standing on a tile floor, having another person push them until they start to slide. The problem with the SCOF testing is that it’s not a real-life scenario, where someone walking on the same floor would be. The DCOF test utilizes an automated testing device to take an average measurement of the resistance of moving forward over a certain space (dependent upon the size of the tile being measured). This new method of testing brings about two very important improvements – first, that the automated device eliminates user variation from the measurements, and second, that it better imitates how someone actually walks on a tile floor.
As this is a very new change to the industry standards, we don’t expect everyone to begin adhering to it right away, especially since so many are extremely familiar with the older standards. However, most industry experts suggest that we will completely switch over to DCOF within five years’ time.
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