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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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