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Tile School: Sand vs Abrasive Tile Finishes

Posted by: Kali • Dec 30

Tile School: Sand vs Abrasive Tile Finishes

Image: Malcolm Fearon, Bliss Images

We've talked a lot about how to choose the right tile for your floor, but slip resistance is always a concern when it comes to tile flooring applications.  You can always add more slip resistance to smooth tile by using smaller tile sizes, using thicker grout lines, or opting for a matte finish instead of gloss–But what happens when you want to use a larger tile size on the floor?  Well, in spaces exposed to water, the general rule of thumb is that any tile larger than 4x4 is going to pose a slip risk, given one's foot wouldn't consistently come in contact with two grout lines when walking across the surface.  This is where you can consider adding a finish treatment to your tile, especially in commercial applications, where a specific level of slip resistance must be met.

We offer two finish treatments to our Tile and Brick glazes, sand and abrasive. These finish application can be applied to any glaze and, specifically larger format tiles such as Ogee, Ogee Drop, 6x6, 8x8, 12x12, large format Hexagon sizes.  Sand and abrasive finishes can be used in both commercial and residential settings, however commercial settings are more common due to slip resistance requirements.

So what's the difference?

Both sand and abrasive tile finishes are made of the same material–silica sand.  The difference is in the actual size of the sand.  Our abrasive option is larger and more coarse, and while the abrasive application will alter the smooth texture of the tile, the coarser finish offers more traction and can stand up higher in a thick glaze application.  An abrasive finish will also be more visible than a sand finish due the the larger silica size.

If you are working on a commercial project where slip resistance is a key requirement you may want to consider an abrasive finish because it will have a higher level of slip resistance than our sand option.  If you are working on a residential application where you want to add a little more slip resistance to your floor for safety concerns, we recommend sand.

The Coefficient of Friction rating

To test for slip resistance, we have our glazes tested by the Tile Council of North America to determine their Coefficient of Friction rating.  The glaze is tested both when wet and dry.  Our tile on it's own has a COF of 0.69 when dry, and 0.52 when wet.  With an abrasive finish applied The COF is .80 dry, and .67 wet.  Please note that this rating is for our abrasive finish only.  We have not had our sand treatment tested, but because sand is not as coarse an abrasive, there will be less slip resistance.

How to request a sand or abrasive finish

Adding a sand or abrasive finish to your tile is a custom request, and costs an additional $4/SF.  If you would like to add this to your order you will need to speak with one of our tile experts.  If you're inquiring about a commercial application, please reach out to our commercial team at 800-773-2226, or fill out our Commercial Assistance Form.  If you're working on a residential project, please give us a call, chat, or fill out our online Design Assistance Form.

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