Choosing flooring for any part of your home is a balance between durability and aesthetics. In the case of bathroom floors there’s an added factor. Safety. Bathrooms have to consider something the other rooms don’t…..water. And lots of it. Not only can water challenge the durability of floors, it can also make the surface slippery. Water is the biggest reason that the bathroom is the number one room in the house for slips and falls. This makes your bathroom flooring choice something to take seriously.
When considering your bathroom floor tile choice from the perspective of Universal Design, there are several factors to consider including slip resistance, durability, and visual contrast. We’ll discuss visual contrast in Part 2 of this series.
Floor tiles receive a rating called a Coefficient of Friction (COF), which is a measure of the tile’s resistance to slipping. A tile with a low rating is more slippery than a tile with a high rating. For reference, a tile with a rating of .60 or higher is considered acceptable to ADA and OSHA standards. So, while there are no requirements or codes for tile in your home where slip resistance is concerned, this will give you a reference point to ask about when choosing materials for your project. If you’re a real numbers geek (you know how you are) and would like to learn more about this, visit the Tile Council of America’s website for all the science and testing info behind the COF ratings.
One final note on COF ratings is that they are unique to the United States. So, if you’re purchasing tile that is imported from another country, it may not have a COF rating available for you to gauge its safety and slip resistance.
Let’s face it, when you’re getting walked on every day you need to be durable, and bathroom floors tend to take a beating. Factor in the possible use of a step stool by a young child, or the use of a wheelchair or walker, and your floors could face some formidable beatings. Porcelain and ceramic tiles are the leaders when it comes to durability, and we’ll discuss more about each of these below.
The Beauty of Tile
As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this is true with tile just as it is with everything else. The art of good Universal Design is the ability to make a space safe and easily usable, while still making it a stunning part of your home.
Now more than ever before it’s possible to create a safe and accessible bathroom it looking like a Walmart bathroom. We’ll dig deeper into aesthetics in Part 2 of this series, and you can also check out our blog Will My House Be Ugly with Accessible Options? for more answers to this concern.
Tile Material Types
Now that you know what to look for, let's take a closer look at the two tile material options that dominate the space of bathroom floor materials.
Porcelain tile is the most popular bathroom floor tile used today. With an extraordinarily wide range of shapes, colors, and patterns, it's easy to see why this tile is used in almost every project we build. Porcelain is durable, low maintenance, and non-porous. It never requires a sealer and is very good at hiding nicks and chips because of the fact that the color extends through the entire thickness of the tile.
So go ahead, drop that bottle of bright blue shampoo, the cleanup might not be fun, but you won't have to worry about it staining your tile.
Though it’s in the same family as Porcelain in the way they are made, ceramic tile is fired at a lower temperature than porcelain and it not as dense. This makes it a bit softer and more susceptible to chipping. With ceramic tile, the pattern or color is painted on the surface, so if it does get chipped, you are much more likely to see it than you would in a porcelain tile where the color runs all the way through the tile.
Just like porcelain tile, ceramic tile does not require a sealer and is also resistant to stains. Generally speaking, ceramic tile is also less slip resistant than porcelain, so be sure to check that COF number when you consider it for your floor.
Get Some Professional Help
No, no, we don’t mean that. The best way to make sure you are choosing the right tile for your remodel is to get the help of an experienced contractor with experience in designing and building beautiful Universally Designed projects. They’ll be able to help you through the process and consider all of the options at your disposal.
Smart People Make Smart Choices
Our goal with these pieces is to help you get the information you need to make educated choices for your home and family. If you’ve found this helpful, or have questions or requests for other topics, please leave them below, and we’ll make sure you get the answers you need.
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