Gowling Stairs

How To Make Your Wood Stairs Less Slippery

It should come as no surprise that falling down the stairs can lead to serious injury and even fatality in worse case scenarios. Polished timber can be quite slippery, particularly when wet or when only wearing socks. As such, slippery wood stairs pose a serious threat to everyone in your family. The good news is that there are a few simple ways that you can add some traction to your steps, making them much safer and easier to climb. We have outlined just some of these in the list below for your convenience.


The first solution is to add carpeting to the treads. The fibres in carpet naturally offer some friction, helping you to grip with your feet as you walk up and down the stairs. There are two ways to add carpet – the first being a runner that only runs down the centre of the flight and the second being to completely cover each of the treads. Although a runner will still allow you to appreciate the timber that you originally chose, you need to ensure that it is properly secured to prevent it from sliding around and becoming a hazard of its own.

Abrasive Treads

Consider it this way – in order to safely climb slippery wood stairs, your feet need something rough to grip onto. The second solution (and one of the easiest discussed here) is to add some roughness to the treads with abrasive tape. The tape adheres to the surface of the steps, offering a rough surface for your feet to grip onto. Bear in mind that the edges of the tape can start to peel up over time due to wear or even children/pets picking at them. There are screw-in strips available, but these are generally designed for outdoor use.


The third solution is anti slip or non slip coatings, which are applied to the treads like a paint or stain finish. These coatings are available in both clear and coloured varieties, allowing you to achieve the look you desire – this is a great option for wood stairs, as it enables you to enjoy the original material. Keep in mind that some coatings can make steps slippery, such as wax and certain cleaners. A wax coating can be removed with a wax remover and you should avoid using slippery cleaners once you’ve identified them.

Other Considerations

If you still find that your stairs are slippery and difficult to climb, it’s time to consider that the issue is they’re not up to code. Each step should be the same height (no more than 7 inches high) and depth (no less than 11 inches deep). Adding a handrail is a great way to improve the safety of the staircase; even better if you can add two handrails. It’s also a good idea to place a level on the treads and check that they’re all level; they may dip towards the front, which makes it easy for your feet to slide right off.

We hope that the solutions outlined above have given you hope that your slippery wood stairs can be made safe. When choosing which of these methods will best meet your needs, you should take into account the expense, ease of installation and the visual effect of the finished product (as some will actually alter the appearance of your stairs). We definitely recommend speaking with an expert when designing a staircase for your home, as they will be able to help you avoid issues of slipperiness in the first place.