Good news for polished concrete contractors nationwide: There’s an industry-accepted method for proving your product is a safe flooring option and protecting your company from potential slip-and-fall litigation.

“This is a game-changer,” says Jennifer Faller, national account director for Diamatic USA and a member of the Concrete Polishing Association of America (CPAA) board of directors. “We can promote this.”

She’s referring to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A137.1 Section 9.6.1 “Procedure for Wet Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF) Testing,” which CPAA adopted in April as the slip-resistance measurement methodology for polished concrete. The standard requires a minimum DCOF of 0.42 for flooring subject to wet conditions, a target intended to prevent near slips — even by the least sure-footed pedestrians — for 10 years.

The testing method utilizes a tribometer (or slip meter) to measure how much traction ceramic, porcelain, and similar surfaces provide. Recent research shows the method works equally well on polished concrete, and used the wet DCOF measurement methodology to verify that polished concrete is among the safest architectural hard surfaces.

By adopting ANSI A137.1, CPAA has provided contractors with an industry-accepted, standardized testing method. “You’re not required to use it to document the smoothness of a finished floor, but doing so will go a long way toward proving that your company uses credible methods for ensuring its safety,” says Mike Payne, chairman of CPAA’s Standards Committee.

CPAA’s adoption also paves the way for the construction industry as a whole to accept the testing method for determining the safety of polished concrete flooring.

The ANSI standard is part of the International Building Code (IBC) Materials Section. The secretariat of ANSI A-137.1 can expand the standard’s scope to include polished concrete, which could lead to IBC adopting DCOF testing as applicable for polished concrete. This in turn could prompt more architects, general contractors, and owners to specify polished concrete flooring for their projects.

Research is on your side

During a six-month study at Clemson University that ended in December 2014, a CPAA subcommittee tested three slabs using the ANSI A-137.1 methodology. Each slab was divided into 16 squares processed to replicate a different polished concrete category. The 16 categories of product classifications were based on all possible combinations of four aggregate exposures and four gloss levels, including cream and very high gloss (see chart below).

A third party, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Laboratory, performed wet DCOF testing and found that all 16 categories surpassed the 0.42 minimum threshold. In fact, most measured 0.50 and higher, well above what’s considered to be high traction.

To ensure statistical reliability, all three slabs were tested in an identical manner. The results were extremely similar for each slab.

Faller served on the CPAA subcommittee that tested the slabs along with Peter Ermish, CEO of Variosystems Inc. and developer of Regan Scientific Instruments Inc.’s BOT-3000E tribometer. The BOT-3000E used in the study is approved by the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), TCNA, and CPAA for use with their respective DCOF standards, but any tribometer with similar approvals can be used.

Faller and Ermish reported the study’s findings at World of Concrete’s Concrete Polishing Luncheon and Forum in January 2015.