Age in Place Mindshare

aging in place

Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.

~C.S. Lewis

Recently a new-to-CAPS colleague, Susan, wrote to me with a very specific question that I couldn’t answer. So, I turned to someone who I knew could–Scott Fulton of Home Ideations for the answer. The exchange is noted below and answered eloquently by Scott.

Aging in Place CAPS

Hello Patrick,

Do you have any recommendations as to where I may be able to find traditional-looking tile like this that is DCOF .42 and ADA compliant for application in a curb-less shower?  It is not easy to find both traditional and slip-resistant tile.

Thanks! Susan E. Phillips Cottage & Castle LLC Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) Interior, Kitchen, and Bath Designer. 123 Redruth Clawson, Michigan 48017

Susan,

Many of the porcelain plank tiles are popular as well, for a wood-look. Planks inherently have a textured surface, easy to maintain and another option vs commercial.

Best Regards, Scott Fulton Home Ideations

Hello Patrick and Scott,

Thank you both for helping me to get up to speed with Aging-in-Place Design. This is exactly the type of direction I was hoping to find, and Scott brought up some excellent points about the point of stress of a shower chair on small tile and thinset grout. 

Scott, I took a look at your website and really liked what I saw. Is this the 1″ x 2″ tile that you use in a shower for basket weave look, and I’m curious to find out the brand and name of the tile in this picture since it is a more traditional style:

Today I visited Virginia Tile and Beaver Tile, and neither of the salespersons were familiar with DCOF rating. The Beaver Tile saleswoman was more interested in learning more, which was heartening. If I was strictly looking for ADA-compliant tile, that would probably be easier. However, I was hoping to find a homier look than commercial.

Many thanks, Susan E. Phillips


Hi Susan,

The challenge is the small format of the inset pieces, making it problematic for a reliable installation. Wheel and shower chairs concentrate load on a very small location, creating stress on the thinset and grout, eventually causing them the come loose. Not good in any application, but particularly problematic for a shower floor. 

Many of these small formats don’t have DCOF ratings, as the closely spaced grout lines provide ample grip and the standard DCOF test method doesn’t work on very small formats in any case. 

We use similar tile, but in natural stone, outside the shower area, and over a cement base, but requires deeper understanding of DCOF. 

For showers, a 1”x2” format creates a nice look, but unfortunately not the full basket weave look. I wouldn’t go any smaller than that. Most Tile Manufactures list DCOF on spec sheet for their tile. 

I’d contact your local tile shop(s) and ask them to help source something. If they don’t know about DCOF, you’ll be doing them a favor by forcing them to get up to speed, but hopefully that’s not the case. 

Finally, don’t trust your eye, or anyone else’s eye as far as DCOF.  Spec sheet is best. Next best is line up next to a known DCOF and compare by wiping your hand across a wet tile. Some shiny finishes perform better than expected, as our eye associates slip with ice, which is entirely different physics than tile. 

Not likely the news you were hoping for, but hopefully of some help.

Good luck! Best Regards, Scott Fulton

These are the kinds of exchanges and sharing of best practices between CAPS colleagues (new and experienced) that I will be cultivating in the CAPSchat forum. Stay tuned for more mastermind meetings like this one.

My thanks to Susan and Scott for this Idea-rich cross pollination of ideas. We’re all better for it!

Patrick

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