New contenders in slip-resistant flooring: Will rubber be dethroned?



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Whether it’s your staff or your grandparents, slippery floors pose a serious risk in any commercial space.

That’s why fall prevention is crucial. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, slips, trips and falls led to more than 244,000 injuries in 2019 — and that’s just in workplaces. In nursing homes, more than 700,000 falls occur per year.

Safeguard against this by choosing the right slip-resistant flooring for your needs, whether that’s enhancing traction, cushioning falls or both.

And a safe floor doesn’t mean sacrificing beauty anymore. When it comes to slip-resistant options, facility managers and general contractors are no longer limited to trusty standbys like rubber.

Don’t get us wrong. Rubber has its strengths. It’s ultra-durable, absorbs sound and has terrific impact resistance. These qualities are ideal in places like senior healthcare facilities or school gymnasiums.

But it can be pricy, and its design options limited.

Given the non-slip advancements in flooring options like LVT or epoxy, there are plenty of reasons to shop around and compare different products for your facility’s needs, budget and aesthetic.

This guide shows you how to do just that.

Quarry tile

The no-frills pick that will floor you

This workhorse has long been a go-to for commercial kitchens and other utilitarian applications thanks to its affordable slip-resistance. Grease splatter? No problem. Left unglazed, this material’s naturally rough texture suits high-moisture environments and is proven to reduce slips and falls. Additional coating options can also increase the grit for enhanced traction.

  • Pros: Cost-effective, high-impact durability
  • Cons: Limited aesthetics, hard surface during fall events

The rundown

  • Best environment: Commercial kitchens, maintenance closets, storage rooms, loading docks and even outdoor walkways and patios.
  • Facility owner: Needs a durable, low-budget flooring material that offers strong slip-resistance against spills and temperature extremes in high-traffic areas.
  • Budget: $
  • Design options: Quarry tile isn’t picked for looks. It ranges from red to tan, though combining colors or installing pieces at unique angles can increase visual interest.
  • Maintenance: Simple sweep and non-alkaline degreaser mop protocol.
  • Installation: Requires a thin-set adhesive, epoxy grout and grout line sealant. When done properly by an experienced commercial flooring installer, this flooring can last up to 20 years.

Thanks to its price, durability and life cycle, quarry tile is an ideal option for commercial facilities where function matters more than form.


Stay upright amid chemical or water spills

When it comes to functionality, quarry tile and epoxy run neck-and-neck. But while the former wins on price, the latter charms with style. Epoxy flooring can be a showstopper. And grit advancements in coatings offer enhanced traction that can supplant everything from oil leaks to acid spills, keeping your teams and equipment safe.

  • Pros: Unlimited design versatility, high durability
  • Cons: Extremely hard fall surface, high up-front costs

The rundown

  • Best environment: Manufacturing plants, hangars, garages, automotive dealerships, kitchens and anywhere else flooring will experience chemical spills and abrasions.
  • Facility owner: Places high value on aesthetic variation and durability.
  • Budget: $$$$
  • Design options: Various stain and color options give this material enormous variety. Many use colored or metallic microchips with a high-gloss finish.
  • Maintenance: Dirt, dust and debris can be cleared with a simple sweep or vacuum. In fact, deep cleans are only recommended a few times a year.
  • Installation: Proper substrate preparation is crucial, especially for pre-existing concrete. All remaining adhesive must be removed, the surface cleaned and patches cracked. An experienced flooring subcontractor is key to long-term success.

Epoxy flooring is made by applying a thermosetting resin directly onto a moisture-treated concrete slab.

Arena flooring in Tampa

Carpet tile

No-slip grip for schools, offices and hospitality

Industrial strength commercial carpet tiles remain popular in education and corporate environments for good reasons: it absorbs sound, offers broad aesthetic variety and is easy to maintain or replace. And most importantly, it cushions falls and offers supreme traction in high-traffic areas.

  • Pros: Excellent traction and soft landing
  • Cons: Wear patterns

The rundown

  • Best environment: Call centers, conference rooms, office spaces, classrooms, theaters, libraries, casino floors and more.
  • Facility owner: Needs to muffle noise. This is a durable, low-budget flooring material that offers strong slip-resistance against spills in high traffic areas.
  • Budget: $ - $$$$
  • Design options: Carpet tiles come in many colors and patterns, offering a unique texture that adds dimension to any space. Tiles can also be rotated for sightline variety.
  • Maintenance: Simple vacuum and routine cleaning. In tile form, damaged areas can be quickly replaced without requiring a flooring overhaul.
  • Installation: With proper planning, rapid installation is possible. Requires proper surface preparation and moisture mitigation from an experienced flooring subcontractor.

When paired with a proper underlay, broadloom carpet offers supreme cushioning for falls. However, damaged sections are harder to repair and replace. And while repair ease excels in carpet tile, ordinary wear-and-tear can eventually create an uneven surface that increases trip hazards.

Concordia University Fitness Center, River Forest, IL


Don’t bounce from this old favorite

We didn’t necessarily save the best for last, but we’d be doing you a disservice to avoid paying our respects to this victor. Even the most slip-resistant flooring on earth can’t provide 100% fall prevention. But rubber eases the landing better than most materials on the market — and can last as long as 30-50 years.

  • Pros: Extremely slip-resistant, even when wet, and provides supreme protection from harsh impacts if falls occur
  • Cons: Rubber’s natural odor is a deterrent for some

The rundown

  • Best environment: Commercial athletic spaces, senior living environments, transportation, manufacturing and healthcare
  • Facility owner: Needs a soft surface that absorbs distracting noises while providing maximum protection to people and assets.
  • Budget: $$$$
  • Design options: Gone are the days of just black or gray. Modern commercial rubber flooring offers a range of colors, textures, patterns and forms, including tiles or rolls.
  • Maintenance: While other flooring cost twice as much to maintain, rubber is low-maintenance and offers high stain resistance, though its detergents can irreversibly alter its appearance. Partner with a commercial flooring installer who can also develop a premium care plan that lengthens the lifecycle of this product.
  • Installation: Preparation requires a smooth, ridge-free substrate with no contaminants. Depending on the adhesive solution, rubber can be installed in challenging moisture environments. Wet seal acrylic can also keep installation costs down.
Overhead view of flooring in an office

Get more from your floor with the right partner

Your commercial flooring installer should make your life as easy as possible.

We can do that for you. Starting with our consultations, we’ll help you determine the level of slip resistance your facility needs in accordance with your budget.

From hands-off subcontractor coordination to custom maintenance plan solutions, partnering with us means more time for you to get back to doing what matters most: getting the job done.

Ready to talk about your next project? Contact us today.