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Specifying Floor Tiles for Commercial Projects

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The BCA (Building Code of Australia) details the specific requirements of floor finishes for different commercial spaces. Different environments or projects such as retail stores, warehouses or butchers for example, will each have different requirements in terms of what types of materials can be used and in the case of floor finishes, what level of slip resistance is suitable for each project. Floor tiles for commercial projects are perhaps the most popular solution for architects and interior designers as tiles are available in an incredibly diverse range of solutions, allowing for the ultimate in safety as well as style in any project. In this guide, we outline which of the Australian Standards needs to be referenced when specifying floor tiles for commercial projects as well as the types of tests these products will have gone through during their manufacturing process.

Specifying Floor Tiles for Commercial Projects: Australian Standards for Slip Resistance

Manufacturers and testing houses should reference AS/NZS 4586 which outlines the testing of new products and floor finishes. Slip Auditors and Forensic Investigators who test existing floors should be referencing AS/NZS 4663 while Architects, Interior Designers, Specifiers and Merchants or commercial floor tile suppliers should reference the Standards Australia Handbook 197 (An Introductory Guide to Slip Resistance of Pedestrian Surface Materials) referring to the selection of products for commercial or pedestrian spaces. This guide runs through slip resistance classifications that are determined using the testing methods as outlined in AS/NZS 4586, Slip Resistance Classification of New Pedestrian Surface Materials.

Ceppo Porcelain Tiles_Floor Tiles for Commercial Projects

With P3 and P5 options available, our Ceppo Stone Porcelain collection can be used in a variety of commercial and retail applications. These luxurious tiles display a wonderfully varied terrazzo inspired pattern and are available in a selection of rich neutral colour options.

R Values and P Values in Tiles: What’s the Difference?

Floor tiles that are suitable for use in commercial applications are often noted with an R Value or a P Value. These values refer to two different tests conducted by the product’s manufacturer to dictate the slip resistance of a specific product and the tile’s suitability in different applications. Certain types of projects will require both a specific R Value and P Value; for example, an external pedestrian walkway will need to achieve a P Value of P4 and an R Value of R10. More detailed information on the different types of ratings required for specific commercial and retail applications can be found in Handbook 197 ‘An Introductory Guide to Slip Resistance of Pedestrian Surface Materials’.

A P Value for floor finishes is determined using the Pendulum Test. This test involves a weighted artificial foot that is fitted with a rubber slider that is polished with a pink lapping film. The ‘foot’ is then installed on a pendulum arm which is set in motion, simulating a user’s shoe stepping and potentially sliding across a wet tile surface. P Rating classifications of tiles begin at P0 (this value denotes a very high risk of slipping) to P5 (the lowest level of slip risk).

Bata Brick Tiles

The luxuriously rich and tactile Bata collection includes options ranging from a P3 to a P4 rating. These stunning brick look tiles can be used as a floor or wall tile solution in suitable spaces to create a rich and rustic atmosphere.

An R Value or R Rating refers to a Ramp Test. During the Ramp Test, floor finishes such as floor tiles are laid across a ramp. Oil is then poured over their surface and testers will walk across the lubricated tiles until they reach a point where it is unsafe to continue walking. The angle at which the tester has stopped at is then translated into an R Rating; R Ratings begin at R9 (these tiles are the most slippery) and go up to R13 (these tiles have the most grip underfoot).

It is important for specifiers to have a thorough understanding of the relevant Australian Standards and accompanying information available when selecting a commercial wall tile and commercial floor tile for different projects. While you would have more freedom when selecting wall tiles (including ceramic tiles, marble tiles and concrete tiles for example) there are much more stringent requirements when it comes to choosing commercial floor tiles. It is also recommended that the specifier consider other factors in their project that may affect the likelihood of slips and falls in different commercial, retail or manufacturing spaces. For example, when designing a post office, the likelihood of contaminants such as spilt oil or grease is low however, it may be prudent to consider customers walking into the post office off the street on a rainy day with wet shoes and how this may affect your choice of flooring. In a commercial kitchen however, there is an increased risk of oil, grease or food having spilt on the floors which in turn can add a significant risk of slips and falls no matter your choice of flooring. Each of these types of spaces will have different requirements as to what types of materials can be used as a floor finish as well as their respective P or R Ratings. For more information on different Tile Ratings, including Wear Ratings and V Ratings, see our guide here.

Earth Collection_Floor Tiles for Commercial Projects

Capturing the luxuriously rich texture of traditional Cotto tiles, our Earth 2.0 collection features a durable porcelain finish. Porcelain tiles are famous for their incredibly low maintenance properties, being resistant to heat, water, scratching and staining.

Specifying Floor Tiles for Commercial Projects Vs. Residential Projects

Floor finishes must meet certain very specific criteria in commercial and retail applications however, these same requirements do not apply in a residential setting where specifiers have more freedom in their creative decisions. It is always recommended however that care and thought be behind the specification of flooring solutions in residential bathrooms, laundry rooms and outdoor spaces in order to ensure a safe environment for the end user.

Outdoor tiles that are designed for use in residential outdoor settings for example, will often feature a roughly textured surface that will offer an excellent level of slip resistance, ensuring a safe space in a home’s outdoor design scheme. Floor tiles for residential bathrooms should ideally feature some level of friction underfoot however, it is important to keep in mind the material’s ease of cleaning in an interior application. Outdoor tiles can be hosed down to remove any caught dust or dirt while interior floor tiles will need to be mopped. A standard household mop would not be able to adequately clean a very roughly textured tile in the same way that an outdoor hose would (or in a commercial setting, a commercial floor cleaner).

When specifying floor tiles for commercial projects, it is absolutely crucial to check on the relevant regulations that apply to your specific application in order to ensure compliance with Australian Standards. These Standards are designed to offer the safest solution possible in a variety of settings while taking other elements into account such as the increased risk of oils and other spills on the floor in different settings such as commercial kitchens for example.

Our online tiles store is an excellent resource for specifiers who are looking for commercial tile products; you can reach out to our team here to order samples for your next project to ensure your tile selections are the perfect fit for your project!