Choosing an aesthetically pleasing floor is one thing, but making sure it’s a safe option for you and your family is a whole different story. After all, you can have the nicest floor in the world but if poses a health risk, it will soon lose it’s appeal.
In this article, I’m going to help you figure out just how non-slip vinyl plank flooring is, and some of the key things you need to know before buying.
The Importance Of Slip Safety
The importance of this really comes down to 2 things: the individual and the application.
For example, if you’re a young athletic person, you probably won’t be as concerned about slip safety as an elderly person who’s prone to falls or a cafe owner looking to renovate their busy establishment. Makes sense.
I must admit, I was surprised at just how serious this issue is. It turns out there are a TON of people falling each year. Don’t laugh! Seeing a person go ass over can be amusing at times, I get it. But it turns out this is actually a much more serious issue than many people realise, myself included.
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), fall related injuries are the leading cause of emergency room visits and account for more than 8 million visits each year. I can honestly say I was not expecting to see this, but it gets worse. They go on to say that half of all accidental deaths in the home are caused by a fall of some kind, mostly ground level. I am not trying to be morbid here, but these are staggering numbers.
Would having a quality non slip floor really make much of a difference? Again, how serious this is does depend on your circumstances and particularly your age if statistics are anything to go by. But yes, the flooring you choose absolutely matters!
While contaminants on the floor and inadequate footwear are among the biggest risk factors, inadequate flooring is a major factor at play. How much so? The CPSC has reported that both floors and flooring materials contribute to over 2 million fall related injuries each year.
So, how important is choosing the right floor in your home? I would say very important. In a commercial setting, it becomes even more important.
Measuring Slip Resistance
There are several different ways slip resistance is measured and it’s something that has continued to evolve over the years. The most common measurement used in the United States today is the “Static Coefficient of Friction (SCOF) rating. A floor is generally deemed ‘safe’ if the SCOF measures 0.60 or higher. This is the standard set by the ADA (American Disability Act) and it’s what the majority of companies throughout the United States and Canada run with.
For example, Mannington Commercial relies on the SCOF rating for it’s flooring and claims it meets the ADA guidelines of 0.60, while a popular Canadian based flooring company named Harbinger follows the same guide. The only difference being that some of their products reach 0.90 according to their data sheet.
However, even with a rating of 0.60 or higher, the floor can still be very slippery when wet which is another factor worth taking into consideration and perhaps why some countries use other testing methods in addition to this. For example, Australia uses a NATA accredited rating system which comprises of 4 main tests depending on the situation. The tests look at wet, dry, level of floor and oil contaminated areas.
Whatever the case, the specific rating system used depends on the country and the company itself. I did some digging and found an article published by StoneSource.com which says that really is no ‘industry standard’ being used in the US:
There are no current tests that have been proven to reliably measure slip resistance of hard surface floor tiles in the laboratory. Therefore, no test provides a standard for pass/fail results.
Safe to say, this is a complex and in depth issue and it’s no wonder so many consumers are simply taking the companies word on the matter.
Vinyl Plank vs Other Flooring Options
On a more basic note, vinyl plank can prove more slip resistant than other flooring options simply given it’s texture.
For example, many manufacturers use an embossing process to give the planks a more realistic appearance and add an element of ‘depth’ that other options don’t. This makes a huge difference in comparison to something like polished porcelain tile or high gloss timber floor, so it’s worth taking into consideration.
That said, some tiles are very slip resistant and may be your best bet if you super concerned about falling. Using a commercial grade non slip tile is definitely my first choice in a bathroom setting when it comes to avoiding slips. I’m personally not fan of the texture though (think sand paper on steroids) so this is only something I’d use if I had a genuine reason to do so.
Choosing The Right Option For You
To make the right decision I think it is important to look at your individual circumstances. Things such as your age, how long you plan on living in the home, the area of installation and who else might be using the area. Maybe you could choose the top 5 planks you love most, then work out how slip resistant each one is. The more important you deem the safety element, the more time you should spend researching this and taking notes.
As a general rule, a good idea is to go with a plank that has a 0.60 SCOF or higher if buying in the US and talk with the manufacturer or supplier to determine how slip resistant the flooring is when wet or contaminated with oils. The majority of accidents occur with wet or contaminated surfaces and you can’t exactly test for this in the showroom, so it makes sense to do your homework before buying.
Extra Measures You Can Take
If you’ve found a floor you love but it’s a bit slippery, you’ve already got a slippery floor or maybe you are just plain paranoid… fear not! There are many companies and products in the market that cater to making your floor more slip resistant and these solutions can be very effective.
There are tons of options out there. For example, one popular product is called ‘Floor Grip’ by a company called Slip Doctors. A bottle of their goop sells for $125 and will do 400-600 square feet (55m2) area and bring your floor right up to standard in a matter of hours.
I’d personally rather choose the right flooring from the get go but this can be a good solution.
Overall, luxury vinyl plank can be a very slip resistant flooring option depending on the product you go with and what you are wanting to achieve. Is it the most slip resistant flooring available? Probably not, but for most applications it’s a very safe option and one that will stand the test of time.
By doing your research on the individual plank and the company behind it, you’ll end up with both a safe and beautiful floor in your home for years to come. Hope this helps.