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Angle of Friction vs. Angle of Repose: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 3, 2023
Angle of Friction is the angle between an object's contact surface and the resultant force when sliding begins, while Angle of Repose is the steepest angle at which a granular material can remain piled without sliding.

Key Differences

The Angle of Friction refers to the angle formed between an object's contact surface and the resultant force vector at the onset of sliding. On the other hand, the Angle of Repose describes the maximum incline angle at which a granular material can be piled without causing it to slide.
When analyzing the Angle of Friction, it's essential to understand that it relates to the resistance between two surfaces as they start to slide against each other. The Angle of Repose, however, pertains to the natural, gravitational-driven behavior of granular materials in a pile.
In the context of physics and engineering, the Angle of Friction provides insights into how materials interact when force is applied. The Angle of Repose, conversely, is crucial when designing structures like silos or when assessing landslide risks.
It's common to see the Angle of Friction used in studies of kinetic or static friction between surfaces. In contrast, the Angle of Repose is often observed in geology, civil engineering, and agricultural engineering, particularly when dealing with granular materials.
One could argue that while both angles are measures of resistance, the Angle of Friction is more about interaction and resistance between two materials in contact, whereas the Angle of Repose looks at how a collection of granular particles interacts with itself and its underlying base.

Comparison Chart


Angle at sliding onset
Steepest angle without sliding

Relevant Material

Two surfaces in contact
Granular materials

Application Fields

Physics, tribology
Geology, civil engineering

Determined By

Frictional forces
Interparticle friction, cohesion, gravity

Example Situations

Brake system, machinery
Sand piles, silos

Angle of Friction and Angle of Repose Definitions

Angle of Friction

Measure of resistance between two surfaces.
The Angle of Friction between ice and metal is generally low.

Angle of Repose

Dictates how particles stack due to gravity.
In landscaping, understanding the Angle of Repose can prevent accidental land shifts.

Angle of Friction

Angle between contact surface and force direction.
Engineers must consider the Angle of Friction when designing brake systems.

Angle of Repose

Gauge of granular material's stability on a slope.
The steeper the hill, the closer it approaches the soil's Angle of Repose.

Angle of Friction

Describes onset of motion between materials.
The Angle of Friction is crucial in determining slip risks on slopes.

Angle of Repose

Relates to gravitational behavior of piled material.
The rockslide occurred when the Angle of Repose was exceeded.

Angle of Friction

Angle at the verge of sliding.
The rubber's Angle of Friction on the wet road was significantly decreased.

Angle of Repose

Maximum pile angle without sliding.
The Angle of Repose of dry sand differs from wet sand.

Angle of Friction

Indicator of material interactions under force.
Different shoe soles have varied Angles of Friction on basketball courts.

Angle of Repose

Inclination where granular material remains stable.
Grains stored in a silo are often below their Angle of Repose to prevent sliding.


What does the Angle of Repose represent?

It represents the steepest angle at which a granular material can be piled without sliding.

How is the Angle of Friction measured?

It's measured between an object's contact surface and the force direction at sliding onset.

Where is the Angle of Repose commonly used?

In geology, civil engineering, and when working with granular materials.

Is the Angle of Friction always static?

No, there's static friction (non-moving) and kinetic friction (moving), each with different angles.

What does the Angle of Friction signify?

It indicates the angle at which an object starts to slide on a surface.

Can the Angle of Friction be altered?

Yes, by changing materials, surface roughness, or applying lubricants.

How do researchers measure the Angle of Repose?

Often by tilting a surface until the material slides or using fixed funnels.

What happens if the Angle of Repose is exceeded in a grain silo?

The grains might slide or flow, leading to potential structural issues.

What factors affect the Angle of Repose?

Particle size, shape, surface roughness, and moisture content.

What's the relationship between the Angle of Repose and landslides?

If a slope exceeds its material's Angle of Repose, landslides can occur.

Are there materials with a 90-degree Angle of Repose?

Rarely, as this would mean vertical stacking without sliding.

Do all materials have a definable Angle of Friction?

Most solid materials do, but the value can vary based on conditions.

Can lubricants alter the Angle of Friction?

Yes, lubricants can reduce friction, thus changing the angle.

Can the Angle of Friction and Angle of Repose be the same?

No, they refer to different concepts and usually have different values.

Is a higher Angle of Friction always better?

Not necessarily. It depends on the application. For instance, ice skates require low friction.

Why is the Angle of Friction crucial for footwear?

It dictates grip and can prevent slips and falls.

Can the Angle of Repose affect construction safety?

Absolutely, especially when dealing with granular materials in structures like retaining walls.

How does moisture impact the Angle of Repose?

Moisture can increase cohesion between particles, potentially changing the angle.

Why is the Angle of Friction essential in car design?

It helps in designing effective brakes, tires, and safety systems.

Does the Angle of Repose change with particle size?

Yes, larger particles often have a steeper Angle of Repose.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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