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Why Floors Become Slippery When Wet

Most Floors are not Made to be Slip-Resistant When Wet

When new, almost all tile floors will have a minimum co-efficient of friction (C.O.F) of 0.50 or above in a dry condition and it is seldom that a slip/fall will occur. However, when floor surfaces are subjected to water or other liquid spills, the C.O.F will drop dramatically. Tile and mineral flooring all have microscopic pores and crevices that aid in channeling water and liquid spills. But floor surfaces become contaminated by dirt, oil, grease, and food particles that combine with the soapy residue left behind by most daily cleaners, filling in these natural channels and leaving the spill nowhere to go.

This extremely dangerous combination creates a phenomenon known as polymerization.

Polymerization is the chemical reaction in which a compound is made into a polymer by the addition or condensation of smaller molecules. The initial culprit that begins this process is actually the daily cleaner we’ve all trusted our floor cleaning to. Alkaline-based cleaners are unsurpassed for cutting a wide variety of floor contaminates, but unfortunately, they all leave behind a trace of soapy residue. This residue is undetectable after the floor dries but when any liquid is introduced, it becomes slippery. The more you clean with this type of product, the more residue is left behind. This residue actually attracts contaminates such as food particles, dirt, oil, and grease as they are spilled on the floor or distributed through the air via steam and then deposited on the floor. The contaminates then become compressed through foot traffic and the wheels of carts resulting in molecular polymerization, which then begins filling in the microscopic pores and crevices of the flooring. This whole process occurs repeatedly, day in and day out, as the cycle of cleaning and then compressing dirt and contaminants into the floor continues; thus the floors become more and more slippery as the soap and contaminants build.

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