by David Morgan
Floor graphics are an effective tool in many scenarios and are increasingly used to guide the public around a space safely. By reminding people to keep their distance, often acting as a visual barrier, floor graphics can play a key role in maintaining a safe but efficient flow of shoppers and other groups. However, if the intention is to protect people, the last thing anyone wants is to create an injury risk.
To ensure that floor graphics are appropriate for their setting, invest in the right product. When public safety is a priority, it’s not enough to use any self-adhesive graphics media that sticks to the floor. Only a product designed specifically for this application should be used. This, partly, is because it will have been tested and rated for its slip resistance.
The test standards used to measure slip resistance vary across geographical regions and even within the same country. In the U.S., ANSI A137.1/A326.3 is commonly referenced, but you will also see ASTM E303. In Europe, look for EN 13036-4 or DIN 51130. And AS HB198:2014 and AS/NZS 4586 are used in Australia and New Zealand. Comparison between the standards is difficult, as they differ slightly in test method or use completely different instruments, but all essentially measure the same thing: floor friction.
These tables go into further detail and offer guidance on the recommended rating required for the intended environment. For example, with DIN 51130, slip resistance is measured with R ratings:
- An R9-rated product is only suitable for dry indoor areas such as offices.
- R10 would be suitable for areas that are kept mostly dry but have potential for spillages such as supermarket aisles, hospital corridors, and warehouses.
- R11 can be used in areas that can get wet like external walkways, bathrooms, or serving areas.
It is important to carefully consider all the conditions — not just wet or dry situations — to which a floor graphic will be subjected. Contaminates like oil will affect floor friction more than water, floors at a gradient are different from level floors, and the amount or type of traffic endured by the graphic will impact the durability.
Fire ratings are also applicable to floor graphics. Ensure that all products used in a public space have achieved a sufficient fire safety certification. The manufacturer or supplier of your selected floor graphics product will be able to tell you both the slip rating and fire rating and to help you choose the right media for your specific environment.
Choosing specialist floor graphics media also can help you avoid trip hazards. These products will have been developed to adhere securely to most typical floor surfaces without tearing or curling at the edges (but again, check your intended setting). They may have been engineered to withstand heavy foot traffic, high-heeled shoes, and machinery without being damaged. They should also be removed easily and cleanly without leaving sticky residue, which itself could pose a tripping risk.
It’s important to keep floor graphics clean, and crucial if they display safety or directional information. Even with a specifically designed product, special care should be taken to minimise the adhesive’s exposure to water and cleaning products as these can degrade the bond to the floor and create a tripping hazard. You can minimize the risk of lifting by edge-sealing the graphic upon application.
The print itself also should withstand cleaning chemicals as well as potential fading from UV light, so check that the product is compatible with both your cleaning solutions and the ink technology used to print it. Most specialist floor graphics films are designed for vibrant, long-lasting results with all major digital printing technologies.
Safety is paramount. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your product manufacturer or supplier for expert advice.
David Morgan is technical assistance rep for Drytac Europe.