For the first time, manufacturers of hard flooring materials have now standardized criteria available that they can use to communicate the potential areas of use of flooring based on the slip resistance characteristics of their products.

ANSI A326.3 is the U.S. national test method for measuring the dynamic coefficient of friction of hard surface flooring materials. The standard has recently been revised to include a five-category product use classification system.

Categories of Use

The five categories described in ANSI A326.3 allow manufacturers to define use ratings for their products based on their slip resistant characteristics. Some possible areas of use are also included in the standard. We’ ve highlighted some of these examples along with the categories below to help describe the classifications:

​​1. Interior, Dry (ID): Such as indoor shopping malls (excepting food courts), hotel lobbies, office buildings, showrooms, and home interiors without water sources

2. Interior, Wet (IW): Such as entry foyers, public restrooms (without showers), grocery stores, “front of the house” in fine and casual dining restaurants with a closed kitchen, and home interiors including bathrooms and kitchens

3. Interior, Wet Plus (IW+): Such as public showers, interior pool decks, locker rooms, covered exterior areas, steam rooms, “front of the house” applications in restaurants with an open kitchen, and in “front of the house” applications in quick service, fast-casual, and self-service restaurants, and food areas in gas stations

4. Exterior, Wet (EW): Such as level outdoor living spaces including pool decks, walkways, patios, and sidewalks

5. Oils/Greases (O/G): Such as level areas regularly exposed to automotive fluids, “back of the house” fast food or family-style restaurants, food preparation areas with grills or deep-fry equipment, and any area where oil, grease, and/or fats may be present.

The ID and IW reference categories are based on the DCOF criteria, while the IW+, EW and O/G reference categories must be “declared by the manufacturer”. (As an option, the IW category may be declared by the manufacturer.) Manufacturers can specify one or more of these categories for a particular item and are also expected to begin releasing ratings for their products in the upcoming months.

How Categories Are Determined

Manufacturers can determine their products use ratings in a multitude of ways for the manufacturer’s stated categories, including the use of information based on manufacturing parameters, internal quality control criteria and their experience with similar surfaces. Furthermore, the Tile Council of North America’s (TCNA) Product Performance Testing Laboratory offers several test methods that can help manufacturers better understand a product’s slip resistance characteristics:

  • The German Ramp test (DIN 51130)
  • The British Pendulum test (British Standard 7976 and ASTM E303)
  • The dynamic coefficient of friction test (ANSI A326.3)

These tests, or a combination of these tests, in conjunction with their own internal quality controls, manufacturing parameters, and familiarity with comparable surfaces, assist manufacturers in determining product use classifications.

Consumer safety implications

ANSI A326.3 provides DCOF specifications, product use classifications and material specification guidance for hard surface flooring. It is targeted at a broad range of users, from the consumer public to manufacturers, designers and architects. Such a simple classification system is a key step in enhancing flooring specifications. And, more importantly, the availability of this information on the use of products in the marketplace would lead to better specifications and, consequently, reduced instances of slips. Such is important for the safety of consumers.

“This revision of A326.3, the result of years of testing, research and consensus building, represents perhaps the most significant advance in slip and fall communications in the flooring industry since the 1950s, when standards were first proposed to measure the slippery properties of flooring.”

-Bill Griese, Director of Standards Development and Sustainability Initiatives, Tile Council of North America