Topps Tiles Case Study
Topps Tiles is one of UK’s leading tile specialist. For more than 50 years they have been supplying an outstanding range of tiles and associated products to create practical, affordable and timeless spaces.
To further improve services offered to customers, Topps Tiles has begun Pendulum slip testing their tiles in-house. This is to provide more accurate and reliable slip ratings on tiles highlighted as slip resistant. As a result, customers can be offered better recommendations, as it was reported they had become more “savvy” about slip resistance. Whilst tile aesthetics is a major consideration, customers also want to know the tiles’ slip ratings for safety reasons, especially when tiles are to be installed in wet rooms or outdoors.
Originally, Topps Tiles rated tiles using Ramp test values that were generated by their factory suppliers. Ramp Testing has two test methods: one barefoot and the contaminant is soapy water, and the other rubber soled boots and the contaminant is engine oil. The ramp test involves a ramp covered with the sample surface being inclined a degree at a time until the operator walking on the ramp slips. Based on the angle of slip, an “ABC” rating is given for the tile. The ramp test method is a recognised method of testing slip resistance, but, it is not suitable for evaluating dry surfaces, assessing the effectiveness of cleaning regimes, and it cannot be used to test already installed floor tiling. Topps Tiles considered the Pendulum Skid Resistance tester as an alternative test method, because it can record results for test surfaces in wet and dry environments and simulate both footwear and barefoot heel strikes. The Pendulum can use any contaminant, most commonly water, replicating the conditions most often found in customer’s homes. Using “R” values and “ABC” ratings is also at odds with the fact that the Pendulum Tester is the instrument of choice of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and UK Slip Resistance Group (UKSRG).
After contacting Munro Instruments, through our website, Topps Tiles purchased an Intelligent Pendulum, Accessories (rubber sliders, verification and conditioning surfaces, Aluminium Sample Holder and Flight case) and full training for 5 people. Thanks to the informative training and after-sales support from Munro Instruments, Topps Tiles now tests tiles in-house without having to rely on suppliers’ test reports. This gives them peace of mind and confidence when marking tiles as slip resistant, helping to reassure customers, reduce accident rates, comply with health and safety regulations, improve claims defensibility and monitor supplier product quality.
This has resulted in Topps Tiles removing “R” ratings from their product descriptions and relying instead on Pendulum Test Values (PTV). Being able to carry out their own testing has led to an improved service to their commercial clients, who often specifically request tile test certificates. Topps Tiles can also now investigate improving and re-engineering their products to make them more slip resistant.
Topps Tiles new approach on their website and in stores involves explicitly marking which tiles are slip resistant. This makes it easier for customers to make an informed choice. All ratings are based on traceable test results, and clear, easy-to-understand icons are used to identify tiles: Low Slip Resistance PTV 0-24, Moderate Slip resistance PTV 25-35, High Slip resistance PTV 36+. Tiles for a wet barefoot area have a “Suitable for Wet Areas” icon and are classified as High Slip Resistance Barefoot PTV 36+.
Munro Instruments has supported Topps Tiles in understanding how the Pendulum works, assisted with any practical issues and gladly share our expert knowledge of the slip industry. Topps Tiles’ goal of understanding slip resistance and offering better recommendations to savvy customers has been achieved. As well as the classification icons, in-depth knowledge of slip resistance has been spread throughout Topps Tiles’ staff so much so that every store colleague across their retail business can explain to customers what Pendulum testing is, how the results can be interpreted and why they moved away from “R” Values.