Tile Council of North America Product Performance Testing Laboratory, under the direction of Dr. John Sanders of the Bishop Materials Laboratory at Clemson University, measured the wet Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF) of 22 plastic based material (PBM1) flooring products that manufacturers2 advertise or claim to be waterproof, water resistant, or depict being used in areas where flooring gets wet.3 The claims suggest that such PBM products can be used where exposed to water. However, product literature for only five products tested in this report cautioned the products can be potentially slippery when wet, and no measurements of wet DCOF are provided by the product manufacturers for any of the PBM flooring products studied.4 This research examines whether the tested products are suitable for wet use, or instead should carry a dry use-only caution.
ANSI A326.3, American National Standard Test Method for Measuring Dynamic Coefficient of Friction of Hard Surface Materials, was used to measure the wet DCOF of each PBM product. The ANSI A326.3 test method was developed through a broad consensus of stakeholders across the flooring industry and is widely used in the ceramic tile, polished concrete, and stone industries.5
The ANSI A326.3 testing showed 16 out of the 22 product specimens tested in this report had an average wet DCOF value below 0.42. Per ANSI A326.3, those 16 specimens are not suitable for wet use,6 although each tested product was advertised as waterproof, water resistant, or was depicted being used in areas where flooring gets wet. In addition, two out of 22 product specimens’ DCOF measured below 0.42 when tested parallel to the plank length, but above 0.42 when tested perpendicular to the plank length. These two products exhibited a potentially dangerous level of directionality (See Section 3.6.3) with a significant change in DCOF occurring depending on the direction of measurement. Further, four other products exhibited directionality. In total, 20 of the 22 products tested for this report exhibited either a low level of wet DCOF for products that are advertised for wet applications (18 of 22) or directionality when wet (6 of 22)7, and should be considered for a dry use-only cautionary statement.
Sanders, John P. and Davidson, Grant, "Wet Slip Resistance of Plastic Based Material Flooring (PBM Flooring)" (2019). Publications. 6.