Slippery When Wet: Tile Floors – Orlando Interior Designer

Remember when slippery when wet brought this guy to mind?

via GIPHY

Well… guess who else should be worried about tile floors that are slippery when wet? That’s right Mr. Jon Bon Jovi himself and every single member of his band have been AARP eligible for a couple of years now! We tend to think of “aging in place” as something for our parents. However, if you:

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  1. Have just emptied your nest; or
  2. Are in the throes of serious retirement planning; and
  3. Planning a major remodeling project; and
  4. Planning to live in your home for the long-term

Then applying aging in place concepts to your home should be a big part of your retirement plan!! And that includes the materials and quality of the flooring in your home!

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve covered several topics on tile floors and bathroom flooring. This week is the last topic, but I’m really digging into the part that concerns every empty nester who plans to install tile floors… How is this going to work for me as I get older?

It’s a smart question because there are several issues that can arise:

  • How slippery will it be?
  • Will it be hard on my feet and joints?
  • Will it be easy to keep clean?

Slippery When Wet

I know, I know… This is the THIRD time I’ve said it… If you want a slip resistant floor you need to know the DCOF score OR you have to use smaller tiles (4×4 or smaller). The DCOF basically tells you how slippery the floor will be when wet. DCOF should be >0.42. The best place to find a DCOF score is the specification information for the tile. This means that you will need to purchase tile that has this kind of information. Typically, tile sold at big box stores – especially discount Big Box, like Floor and Decor – won’t have this kind of information. If you can get the brand or manufacturer information off the box, you can look it up online. DCOF is very important if you want to use a large format tile in your shower. For example, if you want to create a level entry shower.

shower with slip resistant floor
This shower is barrier free

These days we see a lot of mosaic tile on bathroom floors. Mosaics are a bit of a catch 22. You don’t have to be overly concerned with the DCOF score of the individual tiles within a mosaic because there is a lot of grout line which improves the slip resistance. However, there is more grout which means you may spend more time trying to keep the grout clean. This means that you can used a nice polished mosaic tile in the shower and surrounding wet areas without increasing your risk for falls, but you may be spending a significant amount of time on your hands and knees (or paying someone to!)

bedroom with wood tile flooring
This warm gray and tan wood-look tile is a great option for a durable, slip resistant tile floor with a classic wood look.

You may be thinking “That is all well and good for a bathroom, but what about the rest of my house? Are there any other areas where I should be concerned about slip resistance?” Great question, thanks for asking! You also need to think about the tile used in your entryway and in your kitchen. The latest trend in flooring is to have one continuous flooring in the main parts of your home, particularly in open concept and smaller homes. So, the foyer and the kitchen could potentially be the same tile.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

Tile has never been considered easy on the joints. If you are planning to live in your home throughout retirement, you might want to use tile only in your bathrooms and kitchen. If you cook a lot you might even consider using a softer surface in your kitchen. Standing for long periods on hard surfaces like tile can cause your feet, legs, and back to be chronically sore and tired.

If you really must have tile flooring, and I totally understand if you must, there are a couple of items in which you might want to invest. First, I would highly recommend a foam mat to place in front of your sink and cook top. You can buy an extra long version at Home Depot. Another option is a pair of house shoes. If you live in a shoe free house to reduce dirt and germs, you may want to get a pair of shoes that are designated to wear inside only.

cushioned floor mats
These cushioned mats help ease joint aches and fatigue. Though they aren’t attractive, they can be removed when guests are in your home.

The great thing about tile is that it is meant to last a very long time, but the bad thing about tile is that it was meant to last a very long time… This means tile is expensive to install and difficult to remove. If you install tile in a pre-retirement remodel, you will very likely not need to install any other flooring for as long as you want to live in the house. There are good and bad consequences to that. My best advice is to weigh the pros and cons to decide if it is the right flooring.

Spic and Span

As I mentioned above, maintenance can be an issue with tile floors depending on the size you select. Smaller tiles mean more grout to keep clean. Even with larger tiles, shower floors are constantly wet and therefore subject to mildew stains. My best recommendation is to use a urethane grout. Urethane grout is stain resistant, crack resistant, and does not require a sealer. Bostik is the primary maker of urethane grouts. When they first came onto the market, tile installers did not like them mostly because they didn’t really know how to use them properly, but they have become a little more popular as time has passed. Epoxy grouts are also another option for stain resistance. You can also seal your grout, but that has to be re-applied every few years.

There are so many things to consider when you prepare your home for retirement. It can seem overwhelming and at the end of the day you still want your home to look stylish. If your desire is to create a classic and cohesive look in your home then download our“Cohesive Style Guide”! And please sign up for our newsletter.

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4 comments

  1. Such great information! I do like the wood look tile that has a slight texture to it for more slip resistant flooring. I recently designed a bathroom for clients who were “aging in place” and we used the wood look planks for the main floor and a pebble mosaic just in the shower.

    1. You probably already know this, but if you use a trench drain and have the right contractor (a big if), then you can actually use the plank tiles in the shower because the slope is unidirectional with a trench drain. As long as the tile has a DCOF of >0.42. However, convincing the contractor to use a trench drain and also convincing them that they can use large format tiles is the trick. I really wish the standard for showers would just be level entry, barrier free with a trench drain, but I’m going to have to keep wishing I guess! LOL!

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