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Flooring types - characteristics & applications

The following table provides an overview of typical types of flooring and surfaces and their characteristics:

Floor type


Typical applications


Carpet has a shorter life than a hard floor surface but can be a cost effective solution in many cases. Installation should be wall to wall to avoid the hazard of tripping on edges. When used in small local areas, such as entrances, it should be installed in a recess in the floor. Requires more effort for pushingor pulling tasks

Corridors, offices and areas where quietness is a high priority and spills unlikely. However, carpets of synthetic materials may be used in entrance areas (to absorb water and dirt), exterior areas


Rounded aggregate can be slippery when concrete wears. Interior surface is often sealed to prevent dusting and absorption of liquids but this can increase slipperiness

External pathways, factory and warehouse floors. Slip resistance depends on finish and wear. Use angular aggregate for pathways


Must be sealed to prevent absorption of oil and water but likely to be slippery when wet

Light industry, small kitchens, lecture rooms, standing mats. Softer than vinyl

Fibreglass grating

This product can have grit particles moulded into the upper surface to provide very good slip resistance. Fluids are very quickly drained away

Factory areas where fluids are unavoidable. Use on overhead platforms and walkways is also appropriate

Glazed ceramic tiles

Slippery when wet, particularly with soapy water. Some slip resistance treatments available but it is preferable not to install these products on floors

Bathrooms and toilets

Plastic matting

Interlocking PVC extrusions give good drainage and slip resistance. May be hosed down or steam cleaned

Bathrooms, standing mats

Quarry tiles and ceramic tiles

Low water absorption and good resistance to chemicals. Slippery in wet conditions if smooth but can be moulded with aggregate or profiles to improve slip resistance. Special cleaning equipment like a high-pressure water spray may be needed as a build up of grease or dirt can make these tiles slippery

Suitable for kitchens where hot spills might occur. Also appropriate for shower rooms and toilet. Needs frequent cleaning


Less effective in wet conditions. Must be well fixed down at the edges and joins to avoid tripping hazard

Ramps and areas requiring extra slip resistance, stair treads. Usually with round stud pattern

Steel plate

Tends to be slippery when wet or oily, particularly when worn

Factory areas with very heavy traffic, or to span openings in floors. Usually with a raised pattern (for example chequer plate) which provides some slip resistance


Gives good appearance and wears well, but can be slippery when wet, when excess polish is used or when dusty

Office building foyers and pedestrian areas in shopping centres


Needs to be sealed to prevent absorption of oil and water. Can be slippery when wet if highly glossed or polished

Meeting halls, gymnasiums, older factories and offices

Vinyl tiles and sheet

Easy to clean. Use in sheet form where washing is required to avoid water getting under tiles. Slippery when wet, particularly if polished. Slip resistant vinyl with aggregates moulded in is available. Thicker, softer vinyl is more slip resistant than hard vinyl

Light industrial environment, corridors and hospital wards. Not suitable where hot spills are likely to occur