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How to stop wooden floors from being slippery

Updated March 23, 2017

Many people have been ripping up their carpets or refinishing old wooden floors because they are back in style. The problem is that wooden floors, especially when they are clean and polished, can be dangerously slippery. Fortunately, there are a few simple tricks you can do to ensure people's safety as they navigate your wooden floors.

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Add throw rugs in high-traffic spots. Throw rugs allow you to protect your wooden floor while also adding colour and texture to the decor. You can purchase a synthetic mesh underlay, cut to size, to fix the rug to the floor. Other people use Flor Carpet Tile (see Resources) to cover key areas.

Clean wooden floors properly. Begin with a cloth or floor mop. Use as little water as possible, mixed with a mild detergent. Do not use spray furniture polishes, which create an oil build-up that is slippery. Dry wooden floors with a soft cloth. If you apply oil polish, remove all excess oil. Make sure the polish has a linseed oil or paraffin base.

Avoid waxing wooden floors, which makes them dangerously slippery. Waxing wooden floors also creates a surface that has to be waxed frequently to be maintained.

Attend to dangerous areas, such as stairs. Set down a stair runner or treads. You can also mix a very fine, clear sand with polyurethane and then apply the mixture to the edges of wooden stairs.

Apply a special finish, such as Skid Safe (see Resources). You can use this water-based finish in high-traffic areas or over the whole wooden floor. It creates a glossy but nonslip surface that resists stains.

Distress the finish with fine steel wool to remove any wax build-up and provide more traction.


Avoid using vinegar, strong detergents or too much water when cleaning or maintaining wooden floors.

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Things You'll Need

  • Rugs
  • Underlay
  • Polish
  • Treads
  • Nonslip finish
  • Steel wool

About the Author

Nina Makofsky has been a professional writer for more than 20 years. She specializes in art, pop culture, education, travel and theater. She currently serves as a Mexican correspondent for "Aishti Magazine," covering everything from folk art to urban trends. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.

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