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Non-Slip Solutions for Concrete Surfaces

Non-Slip Solutions for Concrete Surfaces

16th Feb 2024

A slippery traffic surface can be extremely dangerous. A small slip and fall can cause serious bodily injury.

When evaluating how to increase the slip resistance of a concrete floor you need to determine if any other performance criteria need to be met.

If you want stain resistance, a topical sealer might be what you are looking for. If a natural concrete finish is desired, a surface texturing process might work. Adding color can also be done with the use of a pigmented topical sealer. There are a multitude of methods or systems to enhance the slip resistance of a traffic-bearing concrete surface. You just need to be specific with all your needs.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that floors accessible to disabled persons be “slip-resistant” but does not define what that means. They leave it up to property owners and the courts to decide what the tested values need to be for that environment.

Most recently, ADA indicated that dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) be used as the test method as opposed to static coefficient of friction (SCOF). SCOF is the test value taken when a person moves from a standing position. It determines how much the foot will slip when you begin to move. On the other hand, DCOF is a measured value of how slippery the surface is when the foot is in motion. The thought behind this is very few, if any, slip accidents occur when someone is standing still. It is simply not possible for a slip to occur under this condition. Someone can fall over while standing still on a clean and dry floor but slipping is not possible when standing still.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a regulatory agency of the United States Department of Labor that originally had federal visitorial powers to inspect and examine workplaces. OSHA does not require a slip value of any kind. Nevertheless, they have caused a lot of confusion for employers and the public on this subject. There has never been an official OSHA slip test or safety standard for any type of flooring.

In 1990, OSHA stated, “A reasonable measure of slip-resistance is static coefficient of friction (SCOF) … is recommended as a guide to achieve proper slip resistance. A Coefficient of Friction (COF) of 0.5 is not intended to be an absolute standard value. A higher COF may be necessary for certain work tasks, such as carrying objects, pushing, or pulling objects, or walking up or down ramps.

Slip Resistant Testing

There are several test methods used in determining slip resistance. There is an issue with these different methods, they do not produce consistent readings from one method to another. One of the most reliable tests recognized worldwide to help comply with ADA slip resistance guidelines is the pendulum DCOF test. This method has a peer-reviewed, published test method in at least fifty nations on five continents, and has been in continuous use for over 50 years now. Revised in 2022 to include the slip resistance testing of floors as well as road surfaces, ASTM E303-22 is now America’s best way of assessing slip resistance for ADA requirements based on real-world slip and fall research from around the world.

Increasing Slip Resistance

There are many ways to increase the slip resistance of a concrete traffic surface. Each one has its unique properties. Some are used exterior and some interior. Others are clear, and there are pigmented systems. You need to determine what your final goal will be.

Surface Texture

  • Altering the concrete surface can increase the slip resistance. Using a diamond grinder to roughen the surface can be an effective way to do just that. Just select the appropriate diamond tool for the level of texture required. The diamond tooling ranges from a very rough surface using a Bush Hammer to a semi-smooth surface with a 30-grit metal bond diamond. DiamaPro Systems manufactures a wide variety of diamond tooling to fit your needs.
  • Sandblasting can also provide the ability to specifically obtain a rougher surface exactly where it is needed. Using sandblasting resist material, almost any design shape can be put into the surface or over large areas. Different blasting media and blasting pressures can be used to offer the best texture for your project.
  • If fresh concrete is being placed, a surface retarder can be used. Surface retarders come in various levels of etch. They retard the set of the cement paste at the surface. When washed with water after the concrete has taken a set, the sand or coarse aggregate in the mix will be exposed, leaving a semi-rough to a rough surface depending on the etch level selected.
  • If it is an exterior surface, a predetermined level of texture can be applied when the concrete finishing process is being performed. Float finish, sweat finish, and broom finish will all provide texture to enhance the slip resistance. Each will have a different appearance but will serve the same purpose.
  • Anytime the surface is mechanically roughened to increase slip resistance, a concrete sealer should be applied. The water repellency and stain resistance will be compromised. The concrete cap has been opened allowing the open pore structure to be exposed. A penetrating sealer, such as DiamaPro Diama-Guard PSR, can be applied to aid in protection. This type of material will not build a surface film reducing slip resistance.

Topical Coatings

  • Topical coatings can not only increase the slip resistance, but they can also protect the concrete floor from a wide variety of contaminates.
  • Protective coatings are produced with many different resins. Each resin will have a specific performance value and resist attack from certain chemicals. DiamaPro UV-HS Plusis an aliphatic urethane with great protection from acids, oils, and food spills.
  • You can select the resin type to match the contaminate you are protecting the concrete from.
  • With all film-forming coatings, a slip-resistance additive can be induced to increase traction.
  • DiamaPro Traction Additiveis a hard, angular aggregate that comes in several mesh sizes. You can select the best size based on the coating you are using, and the amount of traction needed.
  • Several manufacturers supply ground, polypropylene. This can be induced into the coating which will enhance slip resistance.
  • All slip-resistant additives that are used must be oven-dried (contain no moisture). The moisture within the aggregate will trap in the cured film lowering the performance properties of the coating.
  • Anytime a traction additive is used, the gloss level of the coating will also be reduced. The additive will deflect the light bouncing from the surface reducing the gloss level.


Safety is always a concern when selecting a traffic-bearing surface. The environment, how it will be maintained, and the type of traffic it will be subject to all impact what is to be installed. The initial placement of the concrete slab is always a good place to start. Many finishing techniques can provide a suitable surface.

Once the concrete has hardened, a slip-resistant coating or a mechanically produced texture can provide a texture to meet your needs. The level of texture can be adjusted to develop an easy-to-clean, slip-resistant surface.

Before you start, you can always contact the local Niagara Machine Representative to guide you through the selection process. They can help narrow the selection down based on the many factors involved.