Glossy porcelain/ceramic floor tiles... OK or too slippery?

collins designSeptember 18, 2010

Of course, it always happens this way: the perfect color tile is not available in a matte finish, only glossy!

I'm looking at 12x12 porcelain and ceramic tiles. I've been to all the local tile places. The absolute perfect one is way out of my price range, once you factor in shipping. So I sort of need to stick with a tile that I don't have to pay shipping on (ie at Lowes or HD, sadly.)

The second best, color-wise, is the American Olean Hennessey Place Cararra 12 x 12. However, it doesn't come in a matte finish.

Is it OK to use the gloss finish? This is a high-traffic bathroom with a tub/shower used by a teenager. The actual useable floor area is quite small (maybe 17 sf?) and there will be a bath mat used when showering. Is it too much of a slip hazard? Will the glossy finish scratch easier?

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My DH's house has glossy granite floor tile in the kitchen and dining space, and a glossy marble tile in the upstairs bath. You have to ALWAYS be careful when you are walking in those spaces. He liked the color of the marble in that tiny bathroom, and did not think it would present a hazard when his elderly sister used the bath. But now he keeps a nonskid
mat on the floor ALL the time.

We have unglazed Italian porcelain from Lowes in our two baths and a sun porch. We plan to use the same porcelain with a different color when we redo our kitchen. Only when I step out of the shower to a bare floor is there any kind of slip, otherwise it is a safe and steady surface.

Falls in a bathroom are very unforgiving, with all those hard surfaces. Will glossy tiles scratch more? I have no idea, I don't even go in the bathroom with the slippery floor.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 11:00AM
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I stayed at a hotel up in Mackinac Island this summer with beautiful marble floors. Someone had taken a shower before me and I stepped on small spot of water and went straight down. To me, glossy finishes are just too slippery and dangerous, especially in a large format tile with fewer grout joints to add some texture.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 11:28AM
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Hello Stacey,
Glossy tiles are indeed a slipping hazard. Choosing a smaller tile will increase the number of joints per square foot and thereby improve the overall coefficient of friction for the installation.
Many restaurants and retailers use anti-slip treatments to their tiled areas to reduce the incidents of accident. These are topical treatments and don't affect the sheen of most polished materials (spot testing is ALWAYS required). One brand I'm aware of is Slip Tech and many chain and franchise stores use it here in Seattle.
Best of luck,

Here is a link that might be useful: Slip Tech website

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 11:33AM
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Take a sample of the tile you want to use on the floor. Put it on your shower floor and turn on the shower. Step on the tile. Then ask yourself if you really want to have that tile on your bathroom floor.
If you feel yourself slipping, the answer is no.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 4:03PM
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It appears to have a wet Coefficient of Friction of equal to or greater than 0.5 which is the very minimum recommended "roughness" for use as far as I know. 0.6 is what is recommended by the American Disabilities Act as a minimum, so by some standards that would be considered too slippery.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 6:00PM
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The ADA spec is a DRY C of F.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 6:38PM
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Do they say anything about a wet coefficient of friction?

I understand that there is a certain amount of difference of opinion as to the reliability, and validity of these tests.

However, whether it is a recommendation of wet or dry, I don't understand how a 0.5 is not more slippery than a 0.6--if they recommend 0.6 for a surface, wouldn't that mean wet or dry?...a pound of feathers weighs as much as a pound of lead.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 7:18PM
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Do they say anything about a wet coefficient of friction?

They can't. There are way too many variables, such as the amount of water on the face of the tile which would drastically change the C of F, as well as any contaminants in the water, such as soap, shampoo, body oils-- any of which could leave a residue which dry, wouldn't matter, but wet would have a STRONG influence on how slippery the tile is.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 8:02PM
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We moved into a house with glossy tiles in one bathroom. In its favor, it's a funky shaped tile and there are relatively more intervals of grout than there would be in a square tile. Nonetheless, we keep a small non-slip rug in front of the bath and the sink at all times.

The floor is indeed very slippery. Too slippery? 'Fraid so.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 9:01PM
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Bill, what is your input then

is a 0.5 coefficient of friction too slippery for a bathroom?

The tile in question from American Olean lists a dry coefficient of friction of 0.7 (which is within guidelines) but a "wet" coefficient of friction at 0.5. That is where I got the "wet" number from. Apparently AO feels that they can provide a wet coefficient. How valid this is I dunno.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 9:11PM
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My input would be that a dry C of F of .5 is acceptable. The higher the number OVER that, the better. As for AO claiming a C of F of .5 when wet-- unless the industry has come up with a different standard that I haven't heard about (which is completely possible-- I don't know everything), I don't know how they can possibly claim it. I would imagine that's with no contaminants, but I'd like to know what they claim for surface moisture. Is it just a slight film of moisture? Is it just a glazing of steam? Is it soaked and then allowed to dry to the point that no water will drip off the face if held vertically? How do they determine the standard? In each of those cases, the C of F will change drastically, not to mention if there's more water than that, which obviously occurs all the time in a shower, and even on a bathroom floor.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 10:16PM
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Very macho conversation guys, & all the numbers & decimal points are very impressive, especially to a math-challenged gal like me.

At the end of the day, after reviewing the stats, do you have any solid recommendations? What's the best, most attractive, least slippery way to do a bathroom floor? Stacyneil & I want to know!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 11:49AM
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The less slippery choice is generally a matte mosaic with lots of groutlines for a variable surface that allows for traction.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 1:03PM
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I took a bad fall stepping out of a tub onto a glossy tile floor at a spa a few years ago. I personally would not go near a bathroom with glossy floors again.

We had good luck using the Rialto porcelain tiles from Lowe's in the baths in our last house. They are fairly inexpensive, have thru-body color and come in 5 colors, a couple of which look like travertine.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rialto

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 4:32PM
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collins design

Thanks everyone. I'm not looking at glossy tiles anymore! All my contenders are matte and textured now.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 4:50PM
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Well don't rule out gloss or shine completely. I used a polished travertine in my master bathroom. The shower walls, tub surround, and floor were polished travertine. The actual floor area is small due to the fact that I use rugs. The shower floor is a honed or dull travertine with smaller tiles with lots and lots of grout lines for traction. Bath looks high end and has interest.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 5:30PM
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I have a friend that had slippery tile in her bathroom, she bought a liquid that makes tile non-slip when its wet. All of my friends like it, if you use this stuff then you can just put down any tile you want. There is a few non-slip company's here in the states, if you don't use a non-slip liquid I personally would not use a glossy tile.

I posted the link below to where you can find them, I hope this helps you Stacey.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 8:58AM
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Very macho conversation guys, & all the numbers & decimal points are very impressive, especially to a math-challenged gal like me.

Hey Stinky-gardener-- It has nothing to do with math, or trying to be impressive. If you go into a tile showroom, and ASK about how slippery any specific tile is, that is how they will be rated. If you want to understand what the salesman is trying to tell you, those are the numbers you will be dealing with. It's a rating system, not the quadratic equation.

Claire-- I had a discussion with the VP of Laticrete about 2 weeks ago about those non-slip coatings, because he'd heard I'd recommended them to someone. He told me that they don't last, and that they end up making the tiles look pretty nasty, because they tend to catch the dirt in areas where there's not quite as much traffic, and then in the high traffic areas, it wears off, which means either stripping off the coating from the rest of the floor, or recoating right over what's there already, and you can imagine what that starts to look like after a while.

I can't say one way or another from personal experience. But I trust this guy from Laticrete. He's seen a whole lot more tile situations than I have, from all over the world, and I've known him personally all my life (our families were close), so I know he wouldn't steer me wrong.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 5:15PM
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Drat. I found tile I really want to use on a my bathroom floors. It's 20x20 and pretty glossy, although not the absolutely glossiest I've ever seen. Alfa Tile from Spain, Gloss Tile in Absolute Black or Thassos White, for anyone playing along at home. The saleswoman at the tile store is hunting down a wet COF rating for me, but I'm not hopeful. I don't want to use them in a shower, and we always use bathmats when getting out of the tub or shower, plus have bathroom rugs around, but still, it would be nice if no one killed themselves on stray drops here and there.

I was hoping one of those coatings would be a good idea, but it doesn't sound like it. Who knew it would be so hard to find matching big, white square tiles for the floor and walls without having to go totally matte? (OK, many of you apparently.) I swear I've seen plenty of pictures of bathrooms with the same large tiles on the floors and walls.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 5:34PM
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If she finds a wet rating, I wouldn't trust it. Look for a dry rating of .5 or higher.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 7:02PM
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Or I could do the obvious and sensible thing like bring home a sample tile from the store, put it down on the bathroom floor, drip some water on it, run my bare foot over it and decide all by myself it's too slippery.

Back to the drawing board.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 3:51PM
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How can you determine the Coefficient of Friction? I requested non-slippery, easy-to-clean tiles from our bath designer. He ordered 16x16 white polished limestone tiles and ignored everything I said. They were from A&A Global in Atlanta and could not be returned. I think we are just going to lose the $1100 they overcharged us as we have been dealing with them for a year.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 12:00AM
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Jean Bo

I put 24" x 24"glass tiles on my floor, with a tight grout joint. When I was trying to decide on tile I took a sample of porcelain and the one I wanted side by side. Put it in the room and lived with it. Weird thing is the porcelain was so much more slippery then the glass. I don't know what the difference is but even in socks the porcelain was slippery. I have the glass on porcelain and altho we have not used this shower much, (were still working on the room) I love it! I will certainly put rugs down and one thing you could also do is run some mosaics through to break it up and give it some areas of texture. But the big areas of glossy surface are so easy to clean. When I vacuum the pet hair just glides across the surface. Really happy with it.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 2:26AM
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