For the first time ever, manufacturers of hard flooring materials have standardized criteria they can use to communicate possible areas of use for flooring based on the slip resistance characteristics of their products.
ANSI A326.3 is the American National Standard Test Method for Measuring Dynamic Coefficient of Friction of Hard Surface Flooring Materials. The standard was recently revised to include a five-category product use classification system.
Categories of Use
The five categories outlined in ANSI A326.3 enable manufacturers to specify product use classifications for their products according to the products’ slip resistance characteristics. The standard also includes some possible areas of use. We’ve excerpted some of these examples along with the categories below to help describe the categories:
2. Interior, Wet (IW): Such as entry foyers, public restrooms (without showers), grocery stores, “front of the house” in fine and casual dining restaurants with a closed kitchen, and home interiors including bathrooms and kitchens
3. Interior, Wet Plus (IW+): Such as public showers, interior pool decks, locker rooms, covered exterior areas, steam rooms, “front of the house” applications in restaurants with an open kitchen, and in “front of the house” applications in quick service, fast-casual, and self-service restaurants, and food areas in gas stations
5. Oils/Greases (O/G): Such as level areas regularly exposed to automotive fluids, “back of the house” fast food or family-style restaurants, food preparation areas with grills or deep-fry equipment, and any area where oil, grease, and/or fats may be present
Reference categories ID and IW are based on DCOF criteria, while reference categories IW+, EW, and O/G, are required to be “manufacturer-declared.” (As an option, the IW category can be manufacturer-declared.) Manufacturers can specify one or multiple of these categories for a given product and are expected to start providing classifications for their products in the upcoming months.
How Categories Are Determined
Manufacturers can determine their product use classifications in multiple ways for the manufacturer-declared categories, including using information based on manufacturing parameters, internal quality control criteria, and their experience with similar surfaces. Additionally, International Product Assurance Laboratories (formerly TCNA Product Performance Testing Laboratory} provides various testing methods that can help manufacturers better understand the slip resistance characteristics of a product:
- The German Ramp test (DIN 51130)
- The British Pendulum test (British Standard 7976 and ASTM E303)
- The dynamic coefficient of friction test (ANSI A326.3)
These tests, or a combination of these tests, in conjunction with their own internal quality controls, manufacturing parameters, and familiarity with comparable surfaces, assist manufacturers in determining product use classifications.
Significance for Consumer Safety
ANSI A326.3 provides DCOF specifications, product use classifications, and guidance on specifying hard surface flooring materials. It’s intended for a wide variety of users, ranging from the general public to manufacturers, designers and architects. This simple classification system is a key step forward for better specifications of flooring. Most importantly, the availability of this product use information in the marketplace will lead to better specifications and correspondingly a reduction in slip events. That is significant for consumer safety.
“This revision to A326.3, resulting from years of testing, research, and consensus-building, represents perhaps the most significant slip/fall communications advancement in the flooring industry since the 1950’s when standards were proposed to measure the frictional properties of flooring.”
-Bill Griese, Deputy Executive Director, Tile Council of North America
Due to the importance of this standard, TCNA provides a free download of ANSI 326.3. Read more about the significance of product use categories in our Flooring Material Comparison section.