Are Painted Concrete Floors Slippery?

Concrete paints and sealers offer great protection for your concrete, but because of this, they’re also very slippery when wet, even if applied over broomed or textured surfaces.

Paints and sealers designed for concrete are thin, nonporous, and smooth, meaning they provide little traction when wet.

For this reason, grit additives are commonly added to the final coat to reduce slipperiness and provide extra grip.

How can I make concrete floors less slippery?

There are a few options to make your concrete flooring less slippery and safer for those who walk upon it.

Abrasive blasting

Pros

  • Roughens surface to increase traction
  • Exposes the fine and coarse aggregates of the concrete
  • Economical solution

Cons

  • Can dull the surface and change the color
  • It’s possible that the aggregates will get fractured or altered
  • The surface may be harder to clean and more prone to stains

Abrasive blasting, such as sand or shot blasting, aims to remove paint and roughen the concrete surface to increase traction.

The end result will depend on the type of abrasive and blasting technique used, though it’s possible to achieve various surface profiles that can expose the fine and coarse aggregates of the concrete and reduce slippage.

The drawback of this method is that it can also fracture aggregates, create a dull surface appearance, and alter both the shape and color of the exposed aggregates.

Abrasive blasting will also open surface pores, making the surface more difficult to clean and less resistant to staining.

If appearance and maintenance are important for your concrete area, abrasive blasting may not be a good option, though it is an economical solution.

Paint or sealer with grit additive

Pros

  • Different types of grit to choose from
  • They increase the traction of concrete floors
  • Polymer grit is low density and translucent
  • Some additives (such as polymer) won’t alter the color of concrete

Cons

  • Sand and aluminum oxides are harder to apply
  • Some types of grit will change the color of the concrete
  • Can be harsh on bare feet

Even if your concrete surface is broomed or textured, these can still be slippy when wet. Grit additives are commonly added to the final coat of paint or sealer to reduce slipperiness and provide extra traction.

The three most common grit additives are silica sand, aluminum oxide beads, and polymer grit. They are usually available in different grit sizes to achieve different levels of surface roughness.

Sand and aluminum oxides are heavy and have a tendency to settle at the bottom of the mixing bucket and surface coating. This can make the application more difficult and can sometimes result in a less effective coating.

It’s also possible that these grits will discolor clear sealers and alter the natural color of the concrete, especially if it’s colored or stained.

Polymer grit additives are micronized pieces of plastic that are low density – making them very lightweight – and translucent, meaning they won’t affect the color of sealers or paint.

Another benefit of this grit type is that it’s less harsh on bare feet than silica sand or aluminum oxide beads thanks to the pieces of plastic being less sharp.

What about polished concrete?

Polished concrete floors have become pretty popular in commercial spaces in recent years, and you therefore might be wondering whether or not they are slippery. After all, polished, shiny surfaces are surely more slippery, right?

This is apparently a misconception, however. Studies have shown that polished concrete is no more slippery than other types of flooring, and, in fact, fewer falls and slips occur on it than other floor materials.

Despite this, there are still several things you can do to reduce the risk of slippage on polished concrete:

  • Be sure to clean up any oil, grease, or water spills immediately, and ensure floors are regularly cleaned.
  • Apply an anti-slip conditioner. These contain additives that improve traction and reduce accidents.
  • Applying a sealer coat that contains a grit additive will also increase traction without altering the appearance of your polished concrete.
  • Place rubber mats or area rugs in strategic areas such as those that experience high traffic, ie. entryways.

Final Say

Concrete floors have many benefits, but they can occasionally get slippy if water is spilled on the surface.

However, there are several ways in which you can reduce the risk of falls and slippage on your concrete surface.

Whether you choose abrasive blasting or a grit additive, the main thing is that you choose a method that allows you to maintain the appearance of your concrete while also ensuring maximum health and safety.

For polished concrete, it’s really important that your floors are cleaned regularly, as accidents are far more likely to occur on dirty floors. You should also mop up any spills straight away, and use an anti-slip conditioner.

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