Doing a quick Google search on “how to choose the right floor tiles” produces a huge number of articles from a diverse range of sources, the problem is that most of these blog posts and articles are written by tile retailers or manufacturers and usually focus on the visual aspect (color or shape) or wear characteristics like hardness.
What I want to do now is turn the world upside down and deal with “real” issues we at Friction Systems Australia come across every day when trying to stop people slipping over and injuring themselves on tiles that were chosen for aesthetics without due consideration of practicality.
One of the most common inquiries we get is the “post slip fall phone call” where a family member or visitor has taken a nasty fall on the tiled floor in the kitchen, family room or bathroom and they would really like us to reduce slip fall risk. After asking a few basic questions it almost always surfaces that the owner of the property was aware that the tiles were slippery from the day of installation but by always being careful and keeping the surface dry and contamination free they had avoided this accident up until today.
The really disturbing thing about these calls is how common it is for people to compromise the safety of family members and visitors to achieve a visual objective.
So let’s go back to my upside down showroom to choose those tiles.
• Do you want the tiles to be practical for the environment?
• Do you want tiles that are safe to walk on when wet?
• Is the finish more important than the color?
These might seem like obvious questions but believe me when I tell you those few questions are rarely if ever asked. In the real world showroom where the salesperson is under pressure from the boss to achieve sales he or she will inevitably take the easy path of least resistance with easy questions with limited answers like color, shape and shininess.
After establishing that my new customer apart from his choice of sneakers appears an intelligent “practical” person, we then look at the types of people and animals that will be using the floor.
• Do you have elderly relatives visit?
• Will pets attempt to negotiate the tiles?
• Will you have a shoes on or off policy inside the home?
• Will the tiles lead to an external door?
All of these answers will lead us to the best choice of tile surface for the environment and notice that we haven’t even asked about color or shape yet!
One of things that we are often told after a slip fall accident is that the tile Manufacturer or Importer said “the tiles were low slip or non slip”. These claims often accurate for the country of origin mean nothing here. The truth is, that after years in this business I am not aware of any tile manufacturer or Importer that will have tiles formally BPN certified under Australian Standards unless paid for by the client.
So back in my showroom I fill up a cup with water then place the tile on the floor and liberally spill water on it. After taking your elbow for support I will ask you to see if it is slippery by pushing down and forward with your foot on the whetted area. Apart from confirming we are now headed in the right basic direction we have just cleaned the soles of your attractive fluorescent yellow sneakers!
Now we can do the “pretty” stuff
Having now established that we have the right type of tile I can now hand you back to the poor sales person who will head you to the amazing pull out floor rack thing where you will undoubtedly find that “perfect beigey, orangey, purple color” with that fantastic geometric circle square thing with the triangular bits that he or she is quick to point out “must have been made with you in mind”.
Without trying to “change the world” in my tile showroom we have now formed a solid base for a great decision and from that good foundation we can now build and make all that pretty stuff happen.
If you would like advice or further information on tile choices contact us today.