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Listing of the coefficient of sliding friction values for a variety of hard clean materials - Succeed in Physical Science. Also refer to Physics, sliding, static, kinetic, surface roughness, clean, oxidation, lubricated, greased, engineering, measurements, scientific, Ron Kurtus, School for Champions. Copyright © Restrictions

Coefficient of Friction Values for Clean Surfaces

by Ron Kurtus (2 November 2005)

Engineering laboratories have measured the coefficient of friction for a number of materials and have tabulated the results. These coefficient of friction values apply only to hard, clean surfaces sliding against each other. Since various experimental parameters such as surface conditions are not listed, considerations should be made in using these tabulated values because they may not directly relate to your application.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions. There is a mini-quiz near the end of the lesson.

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The information available on the various coefficients of friction provide a starting point on the subject, but unfortunately the values lack a good scientific basis. The values should be used just as a guide.

Surface roughness

Effective scientific measurements typically state the exact condition of materials and that of the surrounding environment. In the determination of the coefficient of friction of various materials, it is important to at least given an indication of the surface roughness of the tested materials, as well as their physical condition.

Test setup

Describing the test setup is important in order to allow others to duplicate and verify the measurements. With friction, the normal force can be a factor in the case of hard materials that may deform slightly under high pressure. That value should be part of the test description.

Testing environment

It is also important to state the testing environment. Although it is unlikely measurements were made under extreme temperature and humidity conditions that affect the coefficient, at the very least those items should be noted.

Surface conditions

Other effects like oxidation of a metal surface, dirt, water or grease can dramatically change the coefficient of friction for the given materials.

Effect of oxidation

For example, clean dry steel sliding on steel has a coefficient of friction of μ = 0.78, but if the surface has oxidized, the coefficient changes to μ = 0.27.

Likewise, clean dry copper sliding on copper has a coefficient of μ = 1.21, while oxidized copper has a value of μ = 0.76.

Need to know surface conditions

The biggest problem in using values established by others in such tables is that you do not know the actual surface condition of the materials used or how the values were determined.


The following chart lists the static and kinetic coefficient of frictions for a variety of common material combinations. In most cases, the materials are assumed to be clean and dry. A few are listed as being wetted by water.

These values are the average of those from a number of sources. In some cases there are no values listed for the static friction coefficient or for the kinetic. Also, a few list a range of values.

Since the quality of the surfaces is not mentioned, you should only use these readings as a guide. It is best to measure the coefficients for your specific materials and conditions of use to obtain accurate values.

Coefficient of Sliding Friction (clean surfaces)

Material 1

Material 2



AluminumAluminum1.05 - 1.351.4
AluminumMild Steel0.610.47
Brake MaterialCast Iron0.4-
Brake MaterialCast Iron (wet)0.2-
BrassCast Iron-0.3
BronzeCast Iron-0.22
Cadmium Cadmium0.5-
Cadmium Mild Steel-0.46
Cast IronCast Iron1.10.15
Cast IronOak-0.49
CopperCast Iron1.050.29
CopperMild Steel0.530.36
Copper-Lead AlloySteel0.22-
DiamondMetal0.1 - 0.15-
GlassGlass0.9 - 1.00.4
GlassMetal0.5 - 0.7-
Graphite (in vacuum)Graphite (in vacuum)0.5 - 0.8-
Hard CarbonHard Carbon0.16-
Hard CarbonSteel0.14-
LeadCast Iron-0.43
LeatherWood0.3 - 0.4-
LeatherMetal (clean)0.6-
LeatherMetal (wet)0.4-
LeatherOak (parallel grain)0.610.52
NickelNickel0.7 - 1.10.53
NickelMild Steel-0.64
NylonNylon0.15 - 0.25-
OakOak (parallel grain)0.620.48
OakOak (cross grain)0.540.32
PlexiglasSteel0.4 - 0.5-
PolystyreneSteel0.3 - 0.35-
RubberAsphalt (dry)-0.5 - 0.8
RubberAsphalt (wet)-0.25 - 0.75
RubberConcrete (dry)-0.6 - 0.85
RubberConcrete (wet)-0.45 - 0.75
Sintered BronzeSteel--
SolidsRubber1.0 - 4.0-
SteelAluminum Bros0.45-
Steel (mild)Brass0.510.44
Steel (mild)Cast Iron-0.23
SteelCast Iron0.4-
SteelCopper Lead Alloy0.22-
Steel (hard)Graphite 0.21-
Steel (mild)Lead0.950.95
Steel (mild)Phos. Bros-0.34
SteelPhos Bros0.35-
Steel (hard)Polythene0.2-
Steel (hard)Polystyrene0.3 - 0.35-
Steel (Mild)Steel (mild)0.740.57
Steel (hard)Steel (hard)0.780.42
SteelZinc (plated on steel)0.50.45
TinCast Iron-.32
Tungsten CarbideTungsten Carbide0.2 - 0.25 -
Tungsten CarbideSteel0.4 - 0.6-
Tungsten CarbideCopper0.35-
Tungsten CarbideIron0.8-
WoodWood (clean)0.25 - 0.5-
WoodWood (wet)0.2-
WoodMetals (clean)0.2 - 0.6-
WoodMetals (wet)0.2-
ZincCast Iron0.850.21

In conclusion

Coefficient of friction for a number of materials have been tabulated. These values apply only to hard, clean surfaces sliding against each other. Since various experimental parameters are not listed, considerations should be made in using these tabulated values because they may not directly relate to your application.

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The following resources provide information on this subject:


Engineer's Handbook - Coefficient of Friction

RoyMech (UK) - Friction Factors

Physical Science Resources


The following books are available from


Complete Idiot's Guide To Physics by Johnnie T. Dennis; Alpha (2003) $18.95

What Is Friction? (Ages 4-8) by Lisa Trumbauer; Children's Press (CT) (2004) $4.95


Friction Science and Technology (Mechanical Engineering Series) by Peter J. Blau; Marcel Dekker Pub. (1995) $89.95

Physics of Sliding Friction (NATO Science Series E:) by B.N. Persson, E. Tosatti; Springer Pub. (1996) $358.00


Mini-quiz to check your understanding

1. Should surface roughness of the materials be indicated in coefficient tables?

Yes, because surface roughness can affect the friction coefficient

No, because we can assume the material is relatively smooth

Engineers aren't sure if surface roughness is a factor in friction

2. Why should environmental testing conditions be noted?

They are only important to control pollution

A humid testing environment could reduce the friction values

To satisfy the Environmental Protection Act (EPA)

3. What is a likely reason some readings have a range of coefficients?

No one is sure why that happened

Measurements were made under different conditions

The coefficient of friction is independent of materials used

If you got all three correct, you are on your way to becoming a champion in science. If you had problems, you had better look over the material again.

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