ADA (handicap) tiles [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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02-07-2002, 05:59 AM
Have some technical questions fer y'all on tile. We're building a vacation/retirement home, and have tried to make the bathroom and powder room on the main floor as handicap accessible as feasible, just in case, for us or visitors. Wide halls, wide doors, low/no thresholds, etc. Am now picking tile. As far as I can determine, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines only address the coefficient of friction (min 0.60 accessible, min 0.80 ramps). Any thoughts on desirable scratch hardness or breaking strength?

Also, if a tile meets the friction guidelines but is not specifically labeled as ADA-compliant, like many imported tiles, is that just a matter of whether the mfr. or importer wanted to bother with ADA approval? Or should I just steer clear of those?

One tile I'm looking at for the powder room is at Home Depot: "Mosaicos Porcela", 13-1/8" porcelain tile made in Italy by Regina Tiles, looks like 25 smaller square tiles with sand drifted across it, COF 0.80. Probably too abrasive a surface for bare feet in the bathroom, but I'd like the look in the powder room.

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Rob Z
02-07-2002, 07:25 AM

Thanks for stopping by. Some of the regulars may have done ADA work, but I have not.

The TCA handbook may have specs for handicap accesible showers. You contact them at

Bud Cline
02-07-2002, 07:48 AM

I've done plenty of work that was ADA compliant but this direction always comes to me from plans/architect.

Personally I'm thinking you may be putting way too much thought into this. Most of todays tiles easily telegraph their obvious COF value simply by looking at them or touching them. I can tell you, you are already thinking harder than most architects.

02-07-2002, 08:53 AM
Thanks, guys. Rob, I surfed over to that web site and some of their links; some good stuff but mostly pretty general. And, of course, being trade associations, they only spout the "party line" --- use ADA-labeled materials and talk to your contractor. That's why I'm here!, to talk to contractors and get some informed opininons. Bud, you're right, I'm probably overthinking this, but now that I'm here. . .

We're going down tomorrow afternoon to meet with our builder, and probably need to make our tile selections this weekend, so I'm just doing a lil research aforehand.

By the way, thanks to Boneea, who referred me here.

02-07-2002, 10:37 AM
Yep you are over thinking this issue. You could go with polished marble or granite and have a polish applied that will give you slip resistance if need be. Also the COF changes with use and the products used to care for the tile. Much controversy over this issue.

My advise go with the tile that you like as long as it is recommended for your usage. In other words you can't use a wall tile on the floor. Other than that happy shopping!

02-07-2002, 12:57 PM
Thanks, Stullis. So if one were trying to do things in an existing home, say my parents' place, one could have an old floor cleaned and then have this slip-resistant finish applied? That's good to know.

John Bridge
02-10-2002, 10:53 AM
Hi Johawk, Welcome.

You won't find a consensus in the tile industry of coefficient of friction because there isn't one. It seems to be the one issue that no one has been able to settle. There are too many different testing processes in use through the international community. A genally accepted industry MINIMUM standard for all floor tiles is .50

I don't like the idea of depending on an applied finish for slip resistence. On shower floors I use very small tiles. The numerous grout joints are your best preventative.

02-11-2002, 07:22 AM
Thanks, John, I am seeing that there is not much consensus on the friction issue. At first I thought the footnotes on all the tile companies' literature and websites were just c.y.a. verbiage.

We are using textured 2-inch mosaic tiles for the shower pan, so there'll be plenty of grout and "grip" there, and I did go with an ADA-labeled floor tile for that bathroom; still looking for a powder room floor tile we like.

Still curious about breaking strength and hardness, I would think that wheelchairs could be problematic in that regard. Of course, the quality of the installation is probably way more important than the specific tile used.

Is the idea of an applied slip-resistant finish in an existing bathroom bad because it's hard to achieve a reliably effective job, because it wears off and so requires too much maintenance, and/or is it not significantly cheaper than just laying new tile?

John Bridge
02-11-2002, 04:51 PM
I don't know a lot about the applied finishes.

Break strength is not really an issue here if the tiles are fully bonded to the substrate. A PEI rating of 4 would be desirable, but a 3 will do the job. Wheelchairs have rubber treads on the wheels, so we're not concerned with excessive abrasion there.

02-12-2002, 05:04 AM
Well, that about wraps up this topic. Thanks to all of you. And special thanks to John for hosting this forum, it's an incredible resource. Ain't the internet great?!