How Can I Deal With a Slippery Wood Stair?

Written by julie christensen
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How Can I Deal With a Slippery Wood Stair?
Keep stairs well-lit and free of clutter. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Whether indoors or outdoors, a slippery wooden stair is a real hazard. Young children and the elderly are especially at risk of injury from falls on stairs. Wooden stairs may be slippery because the paint or finish is worn, or because the stairs have wax residue. Keep a shovel and broom on hand to clean ice and snow from outdoor stairs.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Mesh strips
  • Non-slip tape
  • Non-skid paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Coarse sandpaper
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Tackcloth
  • Polyurethane sealer
  • Steel wool
  • Night light

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  1. 1

    Lay non-slip tape over the surface and edge of the stairs, smoothing it into place so it adheres securely. Press the edges of the tape down. Consider using glow-in-the dark or bright tape for decks and outdoor stairs.

  2. 2

    Install mesh strips over the slick surfaces of the stairs. Cut or buy mesh strips to fit the length of your stairs. Screw the mesh strips directly into the floor with a screwdriver securely so all the edges lay flat.

  3. 3

    Paint the stairs with a non-skid paint. These textured paints are available in many colours and in liquid or spray forms.

  4. 4

    Refinish the stair if the surface is worn. Sand the wood lightly with coarse sandpaper, followed by fine sandpaper. Wipe the stairs thoroughly with a tack cloth to remove any dust. Brush polyurethane onto the wood using quick, even strokes and following the grain of the wood. Allow the polyurethane to dry for several hours. Buff the finish lightly with steel wool and wipe clean. Apply a second coat of polyurethane.

  5. 5

    Install a handrail securely along the entire edge of the stairway, and make sure the area is well-lit. Install night lights to safely navigate the stairs at night.

Tips and warnings

  • If the wooden stairs were with wax, remove the wax with a commercial wax stripper. Never wax stairs finished with polyurethane. Waxes are unnecessary and make these surfaces dangerously slick.
  • Consider hiring a contractor to install carpet or a carpet runner on the stairs.

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