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November 14, 2018

Choosing Materials for Bathrooms or Wet Areas

When it comes to choosing materials for wet areas – whether it’s a commercial restroom or residential bathroom, it’s important to consider both the aesthetics and performance characteristics.

Popular choices for wet areas include: Natural stone, (such as: Marble, Limestone, Quartzite, Travertine, Basalt, Schist and Slate), as well as porcelain tile, ceramic tile, engineered stone and glass tile.

But before making your selection, consider the following technical characteristics to ensure that you’re selecting the material that works best for your project:

1) The material’s Absorption Rating
Materials with a Minimal Absorption rate (i.e. some Engineered Stone or Porcelain Tile) are virtually non-porous and no sealer is required. These materials are less likely to stain, and they are typically easier to maintain.

Materials with a Moderate Absorption rate are resistant to staining due to low porosity, but not impervious.

Materials with A High Absorption rate are prone to staining but can still be used. Always seal natural stone prior to use.

You’ll also want to make sure that the material won’t effloresce, which is when a white film develops on the material. This usually happens on dark, porous limestone. Your stone provider should be able to point you in the right direction.

2) The material’s Likelihood to React to Acid
Acidic cleaners and other acidic pollutants will etch materials that contain calcium or magnesium carbonate (i.e. marble, limestone and travertine). Materials rated as Moderately Sensitive or Highly Sensitive will patina more rapidly than materials rated as Minimally Sensitive. If you choose a material that is sensitive to acid, be sure to understand the cleaning and maintenance products that should be used.

3) The Material’s Slip Resistance
For floors in the shower and anywhere water is likely to accumulate, check the material’s COF or DCOF, which stands for coefficient of friction or dynamic coefficient of friction. A higher COF or DCOF means higher slip resistance.

Be sure to evaluate the material’s technical performance characteristics before making a selection. And remember – always seal natural stone prior to use.


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