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Let’s talk about wet-room flooring

With a growing trend for wet-rooms in the commercial sector, choosing an appropriate wet-room solution floorcovering is vital in order to reduce the risk of slips and trips. Garry Bateman explains.

THE UK’s population is ageing. In fact, it is estimated that 24% of the population will be aged 65 and over by 2043. While this might be enough reason to see a rise in the installation of wet-rooms in hospitals and care homes – with greater numbers of elderly people needing easy access – others in the student accommodation, hotel and leisure industries also appreciate the space-saving layout and ergonomic efficiency of wet-rooms.

The simple fact is a wet-room is both aspirational and stylish, safe, and convenient. But for contractors, a suitable wet-room floorcovering is required to ensure compliance to regulatory standards.

For a floorcovering to be suitable for use in a wet-room, there are certain key requirements in relation to the surface performance and slip resistance, both of which must be sustainable. Wet-room flooring products are developed for use in continuously wet areas, where water flows frequently, and barefoot traffic is the standard.

These floors must be designed to have a low slip potential in barefoot conditions. Some wet-room floorcoverings may also be used in application areas where a combination of barefoot and footwear traffic is expected, such as in changing rooms.

A sustainable safety floorcovering must pass the requirements of Esf and/or Esb and achieve the required minimum PTV on the pendulum test to meet current UK regulations.
Enhanced slip for use with footwear (Esf) and Enhanced slip for barefoot use (Esb) testing are normative standards that must be met. Esf and Esb performance classification requirements are based on ramp tests using a soap and water solution as a surfactant.

The standard method for slip resistant testing recommended by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the Pendulum Test. This test can assess slip resistance in dry and contaminated conditions and measures the co-efficient of friction of a floor surface to provide a slip potential classification. A pendulum test value (PTV) of 36 or higher is classified as low slip risk for wet-rooms when tested with Slider 55 designed to replicate barefoot use.

For wet areas requiring slip resistance where both barefoot and soled shoe use (footwear) are likely and frequently take place, such as in transition areas including changing rooms and circulation areas, the requirement is Esf and Esb.

For these areas, Forbo Flooring Systems’ Surestep Laguna range offers a suitable solution. And in application areas that require slip resistance for primarily barefoot use, including bathrooms and swimming pool areas, the requirement is Esb Safestep Aqua performs to the highest barefoot class.

The beauty of a wet-room is that they’re uncluttered and offer extensive flexibility in layout and design however, all aspects of safety need to be carefully considered – starting with the floor. Combining high technical performance and stunning aesthetics, safety vinyl offers true design freedom for contractors with endless possibilities to create safe wet-room environments, without compromising on aesthetics.

Forbo Flooring Systems’ Step safety flooring range guarantees lifetime slip resistance, as well as easy cleaning and maintenance owing to its PUR Pearl finish. The collection also meets the requirements to confidently use in wet-room applications.
Garry Bateman is head of technical sales at Forbo Flooring Systems

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