Overlook Colour Contrast and Pay the Price, Warns Gradus

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29 October 2009

Contract interiors specialist Gradus is warning flooring contractors not to overlook colour contrast when selecting stair edgings, after access officers condemned several staircases and demanded that the edgings be replaced, as the colours selected did not offer adequate contrast.

Colour contrast aids building navigation for visually impaired people and is measured using Light Reflectance Values (LRVs), which indicate the amount of light reflected by a colour. The Building Regulations state that there must be 30 points difference between the LRVs of adjacent surfaces such as floorcoverings and stair edgings, in order to provide sufficient contrast.

Says Keith Oakes, Technical Director for Gradus: “In today’s climate, more flooring contractors are being asked to adopt a design and selection role for clients, but this also means that they are taking on the risks associated with writing the spec.

“A new standard for the measurement of LRVs (BS8493) was introduced last year, which placed colour contrast in the spotlight and access officers are taking the issue seriously. There have been a number of incidents recently where access officers have judged that the stair edgings did not contrast sufficiently with the staircase floorcovering. This has led to the company that selected the stair edgings picking up the cost, which in some cases has been in the region of tens of thousands of pounds.

“This is a valuable lesson for anyone who is responsible for selecting stair edgings and we are urging contractors to protect themselves by thinking about colour contrast when specifying products.”

Keith adds: “It’s not worth taking risks in this area, which is why we have developed a range of resources to help contractors and give them peace of mind. All of our flooring products have been measured for Light Reflectance Values to the new standard, and we have produced a design guide that contractors can use to achieve colour contrast. We’ve also developed specification advice sheets, detailing suggested combinations of Gradus carpets and stair edgings.”

To request a copy of the technical resources or for further colour contrast advice, contact Gradus Customer Support on 01625 428922 or visit http://www.gradusworld.com