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Slip Resistance Testing

Many of our customer’s have concerns about the anti-slip properties of our Betco and Mighty Mac floor finishes. This information is reprinted from materials obtained from both manufacturers about floor finish slip resistance. Anti-slip properties are formulated into a floor finish and formulations are thoroughly tested to verify slip resistance prior to being placed in the market and are guaranteed to meet or exceed the minimum test requirements as established by ASTM Standard D2047. The ASTM D2047 is accepted as the industry-wide standard to determine slip resistance and is accepted by the government as the minimum requirement necessary for a floor finish film.
ASTM D2047 utilizes the "James Machine" to determine anti-slip measurements of the floor finish. The test measures the static coefficient of friction between a shoe heel and a coated floor tile under controlled conditions. The range of measurement is from 0.0 to 1.0 with 0.50 as the minimum acceptable value for a slip resistant floor finish. All floor finishes from Betco and Buckeye exceed the minimum requirement of 0.50.
Even though a floor is slip resistant as tested according to laboratory testing methods, in real situations a floor can become slippery. Usually one of the following reasons impacts the slip resistance of a floor:
-Water or other foreign substances on the floor surface. This includes furniture polish and other silicone polishes as well.
-Finish is worn away. The re-application of additional floor finish actually increases slip resistance.
-Foreign material on a person’s shoe prior to stepping on the floor.
Because the James Machine tests only under laboratory conditions, it is of no use in determining slip resistance of a floor site. However, a tool is available for simple comparisons in the field called the "Topaka Floor Machine". This machine is only usable in the field and is not an accurate measurement against the ASTM D2047 standard. The ASTM D2047 standard requires the use of the James Machine, which is not usable in the field. The Topaka Floor Machine does not accurately measure the resistance of the floor finish, but rather the floor’s characteristics with finish on it, and there is no correlation between values of the two measurement methods. In fact, Buckeye Corporation suggests customers carefully consider the use of the Topaka machine on their floors. The Topaka machine is portable and is subject to variations in readings due to calibration, actual floor conditions, and interaction between floor and finish; whereas, the James Machine’s ridged preparation requirements standardizes the test samples in such a way as to measure only the slip resistance of the finish without interaction of the tile and finish. An additional point with regard to the Topaka machine is its failure to be accepted as a standard within the industry. In this regard, there is no published industry standard which the Topaka machine is accepted as a testing device that yields a pass or fail slip resistance result. Because of the lack of a standardized acceptance from the Topaka Machine, customers wishing to have such tests run on their floors now find themselves having in their possession questionable test results which might be damaging in a slip and fall litigation case. An additional note about the Topaka Floor Slip Tester: This testing device has been purchased the Pioneer Eclipse Company of North America and is being emphasized as an important testing method by Pioneer. It is important to note a company which sells floor finish systems is determining the standard for this testing device. The industry and government currently does not recognize this method of testing.
So what can you do if you have concerns about slipping floors? Buckeye offers the following advise. Walk the floor in a pair of real leather soled shoes. While walking normally, monitor the ease of lack of ease that the ball of your foot has to move backwards. If you feel as though they could kick yourself in the rear, it might be prudent to clean the floor and add more finish. If this is not the case, the floor is okay. To further aggravate the movement of the ball of the foot backwards, push harder on the ball of the foot when walking forward. This is done by attempting to accelerate when most of your weight is on your ball rather than on your heal. The floor will be in good condition if there is no sensation of loss of traction when accelerating.
There are several basic maintenance steps that greatly increase anti-slip properties of a floor. The most important issue is debris on the floor. Most problems with floors result from inadequate mopping or other cleaning. A significant reduction in debris can be achieved by a complete matting program. Another problem is a lack of floor finish to properly cover the surface. If the floor coating does not create enough "thickness" then the anti-slip properties will never fully be achieved regardless of the quality of the maintenance program. Use the rule of 100 to build a floor up. The "Rule of 100" states that you add enough average coats of finish to equal 100 of whatever percent the finish is. For example: if the finish is 20% non-volatile solids, then you need 5 average coats (100 divided by 20 = 5). Another concern is floor temperature. Floor finish must cure on a floor at least 56° F for it to properly bond. This includes avoiding down drafts from large picture windows during the winter months. Often we forget that cold descends from these window areas and chills the floor before the finish cures. If this occurs the finish will not properly bond and will "powder off" making dust that is very slippery. See our
basic floor care guide for instructions of properly applying and maintaining a floor finish film. If a floor becomes slippery after a period of time, ask the question "what’s changed." If after serious consideration the answer is nothing, then consider that finish has worn off from he floor and needs to be replaced. As the floor experiences traffic and debris it wears off and must be replaced. Should you have any other questions, or this document just didn’t cover the problem please let you know, we are glad to assist in any way.

This information is presented based on our research which we believe to be correct although it may be biases. No guarantee is expressed or implied. Please provide your own evaluation prior to drawing any conclusions. This information is provided by Betco Corporation, Toledo Ohio and is used with their persission © 1997 by Michco & Betco Inc.