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What is an anti-slip shower tray?

Type this into Google and you will be bombarded with lots of options to purchase anti-slip shower trays but no answer to your question.

This is hardly surprising because anti-slip shower trays are not defined in any standards. When things are not defined and are in effect unregulated it leaves the door open to lots of colourful marketing.

I have seen first-hand anti-slip shower trays in showrooms that claimed to conform to a standard- with lots of fancy letters and numbers. It looked great, great to a consumer, great to the sales people who don’t know what they are selling.

But in fact these claims are misleading and rely on the acceptance that we actually do need anti-slip shower trays, and also that as a consumer we trust a brand when they tell us that a shower tray is anti-slip.

A consumer to an extent can be forgiven for this but as a seller/specifier you have an obligation to understand what you are selling. How can you effectively sell a product if you don’t know what it is you are selling?

These are examples of what I mean;

‘Anti slip rated – UNE ENV 12633:2003’. Looks mightily impressive, doesn’t it? How many of us actually have access to these standards to get the detail? For starters you must pay for these documents, as an example this standard on the BSI website costs £130 for non- members.

Turns out that this standard is ‘Method of polishing specimens prior to the measurement of slip and skid resistance’ PRIOR to measurement and nothing to do with anti-slip properties of shower trays. Unbelievable but true.

Numerous examples exist- the classic ‘Anti-slip option available’– that’s it- nothing else. It says anti-slip so it must be so!

Another example, ‘Anti-slip properties in accordance with BS 14527’. Can you guess what this means? I bet you can by now.

Enough, this is the industry that I have grown up in, an industry that I love and an industry that I will share what I have learnt on my anti-slip journey.

Let’s start at the start.

For any shower tray be sold within Europe it must be CE marked in accordance with BS EN 14527- Shower trays for domestic purposes. This title in itself is confusing, (nothing is easy) as ‘Domestic purposes’ is defined within the standard as ‘includes use in hotels, accommodation for students, hospitals and similar buildings.

Within this standard no reference is made to anti-slip properties. That must be repeated- no reference is made to anti-slip properties. Take a moment to digest that. For a shower tray, used in wet, barefoot and soapy conditions, no reference to anti-slip properties. How can a shower tray then be anti-slip if the standard that all shower trays must meet does not define any test methods or parameters?

I can hear some of you thinking- this man is mad- how could this be true? It is.

The only time that the standard, BS EN 14527 acknowledges that shower trays are dangerous is in the form of Annex B, these are the exact words

‘When wet, the surface of the majority of shower trays will show an increase in the potential for slipping. This is particularly the case when soap, shampoo, bath oil, etc are used. It is important that designers, installers and users are aware of this’

So then what actually is an anti-slip shower tray- if it is not defined? And does that mean that trays that are not anti-slip are in fact slippery?

I have spent three years looking at all of this and am happy to share all that I have learnt. It is not all doom and gloom, a few pertinent questions will ensure that you either buy, sell or specify the anti-slip shower tray that is right for you, of which there are many to choose.

Over the coming weeks and months I will explain various methods of shower tray manufacture, various methods of making a shower tray anti-slip, various methods for testing anti-slip properties and all the associated advantages and disadvantages.

It is important to also deal with cleanability and of course comfort- turns out it is exceptionally easy to make something that is very anti-slip, but you have to be able to stand on it! I really enjoy sharing the knowledge that I have built up and deliver CPD’s accredited with both RIBA and RIAI on this subject.

If you have any questions please contact me directly at christopher.hackett@classic-marble.com.

If I don’t know the answer, I will know someone who will.

How do you make a shower tray anti-slip?

There are numerous methods of manufacturing shower trays, stone resin backed vacuum formed acrylic sheet or gel-coat, pressed steel, injection moulded and poured polyurethane to name a few. This is how shower trays can be made- but not the answer to the question- How do you make a shower tray anti-slip?

At the moment there are two main methods for the manufacture of anti-slip shower trays. Currently the most widely used method of making an anti-slip shower tray is the application of a coating after shower tray manufacture. The second is a shower tray made with integrated anti-slip properties therefore the anti-slip properties are already built in.

Applied Coating

An applied coating is just that, applied after the shower tray is manufactured. You start with a normal shower tray as per BS EN 14527 and you apply a coating. This can be done by hand or by a degree of automation and may or may not go through a curing process.

The coating is in effect like a layer of sandpaper, the particles making what was a smooth surface less smooth. Depending on the granule size, shape and density, will have an impact on the slip resistance values.

One thing that I want to make clear is that any form of anti-slip shower tray is better than a normal standard shower tray- it really is a case of anything is better than nothing. That does not mean that it will be good enough- just better than nothing. Because of a lack or regulation- this is what our industry has been reduced to- a sorry state of affairs. Check out my last article “What is an Anti-Slip Shower Tray”

Let’s examine the advantages and disadvantages of both main methods of manufacture.

Advantages of an Applied Coating

There are several advantages to applied coatings. A major advantage is from a manufacturing perspective because the base shower tray production, processes and tooling require no change, and as a result is the most cost-effective solution.

Also, if a shower tray is sold without the factory applied anti-slip coating, DIY kits are available allowing the anti-slip coating to be applied after the shower tray is installed. For the 1000’s of shower trays installed long before anyone put the words anti-slip and shower trays together, this is a great solution.

Disadvantages of an Applied Coating

On the flip side there are also several disadvantages with coatings to be considered when looking at this option and weighing up against cost.

Most if not all shower trays that come with an applied coating have limitations of use. A good example of this is that the use of hair dye is prohibited. I don’t know about your house but this would be a problem in ours!

Another thing to be aware of and which is often overlooked is the life expectancy of the coating. A shower tray without the coating may well have a product guarantee of 15 years, but the coating itself can have a guarantee of as little as three. This is because of the temperature cycles in the tray, hot, cold, hot, cold….having an impact on the adhesion leading to eventual breakdown.

A further notable disadvantage to coatings is the cleanability. A shower tray that has been given a slip resistance value will have been measured in pristine condition, no build-up of body fat, dirt and grime. This body fat, dirt and grime will impact negatively on any slip testing. Coatings are notorious for being difficult to clean.

One more disadvantage is that the coating when applied manually can be either applied heavy or light, thick or thin. What is the slip resistance value of a ‘light’ coating when compared to a ‘heavy’ coating?

Integrated Anti Slip Properties

The second main method to manufacture an anti-slip shower tray is to design in the anti-slip properties into the tooling. This like everything also comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Integrated Anti Slip Properties

A major advantage of integrated manufacture of the anti-slip properties is that the anti-slip properties will be with the shower tray for the life of the shower tray. There will also be no limitations of use over that of a normal shower tray- pass me the hair dye!

Also, as the anti-slip properties are included in the tooling, every shower tray made from that tool should in theory have the same anti-slip properties, hence removing the variation associated with a thick/thin heavy/light coating.

For integrated manufacture, with the use of modelling software the ‘things’ that make it anti-slip can be precision engineered to give a high degree of comfort and also visualisations such as water flow can be considered ensuring no areas for the build-up of body fat, dirt or grime. This is important for consistency of slip testing values.

Two of the most important things when considering an anti-slip shower tray, above the actual slip resistance values are comfort and cleanability. We sometimes need reminded that the normal intended end use is in barefoot, wet and soapy conditions.

Disadvantages of Integrated Anti Slip Properties

The major disadvantage with this type of integrated anti-slip shower tray is the associated costs with new tooling, and let’s face it, costs are important but manufacturers who go down this route see the additional unit cost being justified by the considerable advantages they would claim it brings.

Finally…

A third manufacturing method does exist but is relatively niche, made from a soft material that takes the shape of your feet when you stand in it. I don’t know enough about this product to knowledgeably discuss the advantages and disadvantages but at some time would hope to revisit and update this article.

These articles are designed to give sellers/buyers/specifiers the knowledge to compare different options and to understand why there are differing price points allowing informed decisions to use the anti-slip shower tray best suited for the given situation.

My next articles will focus on test methods for measuring anti-slip properties. Exciting times ahead!

If you have any questions please contact me directly at christopher.hackett@classic-marble.com.

If I don’t know the answer, I will know someone who will.