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Why is the lack of Coefficient of Friction (COF) values of timber an issue?

Last Updated: 19th July 2006

The lack of known published COF values of timber assuming normal mobility, let alone abnormal gait, wheelchairs etc. make it hard to comply to some Building Code of Australia (BCA) regulations.

In Australia there are a number of laws and regulations that demand that slip resistance must be ensured under all conditions of normal use (BCA via AS1428). Additionally, the Disability Discrimination Act, Part 5, Clause 5.8.1, states that all decking, broad walks and timber ramps should be safe and convenient for all users (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1997).

The timber industry is an important primary sustainable industry. Investment in determining COF values may better position the timber industry to maintain or even increase its market share in Australia and internationally. Although timber is commonly used for decking, ramps and broad-walks, and industry initiatives have resulted in a variety of timber profiles and coating systems to increase slip resistance, there is still no data on the efficacy of these systems. The lack of COF data has resulted in coated timber composites, steel mesh or brushed concrete products being recommended in preference to traditional timber ones.

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