Options to make wood stairs slip resistant?

northcarolinaJanuary 17, 2011

We'll be installing wood treads on our unfinished basement staircase before too much longer (I hope). There are small children (sometimes wearing socks) and elderly people who use these stairs, so they need to be slip resistant after hardwood treads are installed. We already have the wood, so that's locked in. I don't want to use a carpet runner (the location is a dirt magnet and we also have pets), and the treads are not uniform in shape so I don't think the premade nonslip tread covers that you lay on top will fit. (Some of the stairs are wedge-shaped as the staircase turns 90 degrees.) I have heard of the Shark Grip paint additive; has anyone used it, and do you all have any idea if it can be added to a wood finish other than paint? Should we finish the wood with a penetrating oil instead of poly? (I am interested in low VOC finishes anyway.) Would it be better if I painted them, so that I can use the slip resistant paint additive? What has worked for other people with hardwood stair treads?

Thanks in advance!

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annzgw

I'm sure there are other brands available, but what about clear anti-slip strips?

Here is a link that might be useful: strips

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 12:38AM
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northcarolina

Those look good, annz, thanks! The only strips they had at the big box store were the very rough black ones (hard to clean), but it looks as though that website has better alternatives.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 9:22AM
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mahatmacat1

I love the clear! I also wonder about the luminescent...at some point I'll write them to ask what color that is during the day. I'm all for extra safety if it isn't obtrusively ugly. Wonderful link.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 2:26PM
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rmkitchen

We have a wood staircase and a carpeted staircase and I'll tell you, the wood is f-a-r less slippery than the carpeted! We are a no-shoes house and we've a 6 year-old (and it always appears his friends) and a disabled 4.5 year-old (and lots of his Special little friends), and three cats and a dog. The only slipping we've ever had has been on the carpeted stair. I'm not saying it can't happen, I'm just saying that for some reason wood stairs seem to have this myth about being slippery when it's really the carpeted, esp. when no shoes are worn.

But I think the idea is fascinating, and I look forward to seeing your finished stair. Have fun!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 4:09PM
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sandra_zone6

Have to agree with the above statement. I took the carpet off of our stairs this past year. There were hardwood treads underneath. I stained them and finished them with a few coats of a matte poly. They are far less slippery now than the carpet that was there.

I have 3 kids, now ages 10, 11 and 13. We've had more falls down the carpeted stairs over the years than I care to remember, but none since going with the hardwood. Not saying it can't happen, but it hasn't yet. The only thing carpeted stairs have going for them is they are nicer to fall on when you do slip.

BTW, we don't do shoes in the house, so my kids are always running around in socks.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 4:44PM
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laura mcleod

I agree that wood stairs are not as slippery as thought- at least in my experience with pets and lots of kids in socks, and we have pretty steep 1920's stairs.

I did use Shark Grip when I painted a set of stairs and it is fabulous (easy to use and totally non-slippery) - not sure if it can be added to stain (but you'd need to sand the stairs first I am thinking) but I don't believe that you will need to use it :-)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 5:37PM
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annzgw

I think how safe stairs are without anything on them will depend on the rise and run of the steps. We once lived in an older home with stairs and there was many a time I nearly fell when my foot slipped off the front edge. The stairs had a narrow run and one's foot always landed near the edge when coming down the stairs. In stocking feet or smooth sole shoes........off you went!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 8:44PM
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pharaoh

I agree with the other posters.

I had carpeted stairs. SLIPPERY!!! Ripped it out and replaced with hardwood.

The hardwood floors are a lot less slippery. The flat solid hard surface is easier for your feet to grip (when barefooted). Evolution has made our soles pretty good at feeling and gripping all kinds of surfaces.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 8:49PM
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northcarolina

This is great to hear! I've always lived in ranches, and the basement staircase in this house has just had the unfinished plywood for *ahem* years, so I have little experience with hardwood stairs of my own. The bare plywood is very slip resistant, by the way. haha.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 9:25PM
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greg_slipdoctors_com

SlipDoctors has a product that you spray on. http://www.slipdoctors.com

Here is a link that might be useful: Slip Doctors Anti Slip Spray for Wood Stairs

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 5:30PM
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LuAnn_in_PA

"We have a wood staircase and a carpeted staircase and I'll tell you, the wood is f-a-r less slippery than the carpeted! We are a no-shoes house and we've a 6 year-old (and it always appears his friends) and a disabled 4.5 year-old (and lots of his Special little friends), and three cats and a dog. The only slipping we've ever had has been on the carpeted stair. "

Agreed!

No slippage at all once we removed the carpet!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 6:09PM
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busybee3

i have found this discussion interesting in the past...i have had the opposite experience-where hardwoods are much more slippery with socks than carpet...wonder if it's how the steps are finished???

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 7:12PM
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northcarolina

Just an update -- we still don't have the treads installed (lol) -- DH has to find several days off work to get it done -- but I have finished them. I used Rubio Monocoat partly because of the lack of smell, partly for the look, and partly to avoid a slick poly; and the treads do seem like they'll have a good bit of grip. You can definitely feel the wood grain. We shall see how it works (and how it wears) after we've been walking on it awhile.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 8:36PM
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steve_van

It has been a few years now, and I'm curious as to what northcarolina's opinion is of the Rubio Monocoat finish.

We have been removing the carpet in our house. Our stairs still have carpet and they lead from a lightly stained oak hardwood floor to our daylight basement. I'm considering the Stairtek retread product as a replacement for the carpet. Separately I had stumbled upon the Rubio Monocoat product and had wondered if this might be a good finish for hardwood stair treads. It sounds like it would likely retain the wood's natural traction properties, and as a high traffic area, I like the idea of being able to renew the finish without having to remove the original Monocoat finish.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 1:48AM
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northcarolina

Yes, we've had the Monocoat on our basement stairs (low traffic) for about 3 years and on a new hardwood floor in our kitchen (high traffic) for 2 years. To sum up, I like it but DH doesn't. His main objection is that to him, the floor doesn't look finished. I like the matte look and that it doesn't show scuffs or scratches (we have young children and dogs; the fact that the floor is oak might also help with this). DH has pointed out that water doesn't bead up on it quite as well as it does on a poly-coated floor. This hasn't caused any problems so far, but I think he's concerned (understandably) about long-term. We try to blot up any spills pretty quickly, just in case. Both the stairwell and the kitchen floor look pretty much like they did when they were first finished.

The stairwell isn't slippery, but it's not anti-slip either, if that makes sense. I suppose I'd describe it as slip-neutral. We haven't had any trouble with it and I feel secure going up and down it in sock feet.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 12:16AM
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leeann56

I have 2 sets of open wood plank stairs. I agree that generally barefoot, sock footed or shoes the wood stairs are less slippery than carpeted. However, my son's visiting Lab has trouble negotiating the steps and last night my Yorkie rolled to the bottom of the steps. I just ordered the SlipDoctor clear spray for wood. I don't want anything noticeable so I thought I'd give it a try. Will keep posted.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 6:44PM
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mrsmactlman

I am having trouble with my dogs climbing the new wood stair we have recently installed. I saw the SlipDoctor spray also and was wondering if you could tell me how easily is has been to clean. I am worried with the gritty texture that it will hold the dirt and be hard to clean.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 8:55AM
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amandameyer

Hello mrsmactlman! You can just simply vacuum it. SlipDoctor spray easily wears off within a week or so, so piled up dirt wouldn't be a big problem.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2014 at 10:29PM
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susanlynn2012

I am trying to decide to carpet my steps going upstairs (carpet is over 24 years old so will have to remove first) or do the same wood that I just installed downstairs as I fear that the wood will be slippery to walk on and noisy despite beautiful.

This post was edited by lynn2006 on Wed, Nov 19, 14 at 17:27

    Bookmark   November 14, 2014 at 9:42PM
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amandameyer

Hello lynn2006! Carpeted stairs can be more dangerous if not fastened securely and it would be a tough job to clean it as it easily collects dusts & pet hair, it can also attract parasites that can damage the wood underneath. Wooden stairs would really look great on your home interior and could go to any home decor. There are a lot of ways you can secure your wooden stairs - you can use non slip spray for your stairs, make sure that your stairs are well lit and make sure to keep it dry at all times. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2014 at 1:05AM
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susanlynn2012

Thank you amnadameyer for this information! Now I need to get estimates to do the steps and the hallway upstairs and my bedroom. I may leave the carpet in the other two rooms as one is being used as a storage room with cabinets in it and the other is not used much.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2014 at 5:40PM
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cartom1010

We have had the opposite experience of most posters. We recently ripped up our plush carpeting on our stairs, and put down hardwoods finished with Swedish finish with satin top coat. I immediately fell down the stairs the first day while wearing socks. Contractor investigated stairs, found other issues, then ripped out the stairs, re-did the stringer and leveled out tread heights and made them all level. Then they were refinished, but somehow it is not as slippery even though the finish is exactly the same. Elsewhere in the house we have an area with one step with the old finish and I just slipped again today, so our flooring guy is investigating options for us for that step. There is no handrail there so I might put a strip down. No sense breaking a leg over this...

    Bookmark   December 4, 2014 at 5:37PM
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