It’s not enough to consider color alone when differentiating between areas. When the difference between floors, walls, steps and doorways is too subtle, it can cause enough uncertainty to result in a fall.

Although contrasting colors create visual changes that help differentiate space, it is actually the amount of light reflected from surfaces that is the main factor in determining a person’s
ability to identify different surfaces.

Contrasting stair nosing combined with quality safety flooring reduces the risk of slips and trips on stairs. Use contrasting colors or a stripe at the top and bottom of stairways to indicate the final step.

LRVs (Light Reflectance Values)

Light Reflectance Values (LRVs) are the best way to measure contrast. Every material has an LRV marked on a scale of 1-100 — 1 being dark (absorbing light), and 100 being light (reflecting light).

To meet requirements set by the FGI Guidelines, there should be at least a 30 point variance in LRVs between adjacent surfaces such as floors and walls.

Conversely, where different types of flooring are used alongside each other and there is no step between them, it’s equally important to ensure that the LRVs of the materials are as similar as possible to avoid creating the illusion of a step where there is none.