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How To - Make Wooden Stairs Less Slippery

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Q: We have wooden stairs that are fairly steep and slippery. I have fallen down them twice. Is there a way to make them less slippery? The only thing we have come up with is putting a runner on them, but would that really help? The part of each step that is slippery is the curved front.

Vienna

A: A runner might make the steps less slippery, but if the carpet runs over the front of narrow treads, the steps could wind up even scarier because of the squishy front edges. Other solutions might provide surer footing. Home supply companies sell small carpets that fit on individual treads. For example, Stacks and Stacks (http://www.stacksandstacks.com) and numerous other online sources sell a set of four covers for about $26 that look like miniature braided carpets. They have a skid-resistant back to keep them on the treads, and the braided top surface adds traction under your feet.

You can also buy peel-and-stick abrasive tape, but the edges may curl up over time. Mesh strips that screw down (http://www.getagripstairtreads.com) might last longer and look a little better. Or consider painting the stairs with an anti-slip floor coating. Clear and colored coatings are available at http://www.noskidding.com, or check your local paint store.

Before you buy anything, you might want to place a level on the treads to check whether they tilt toward the front, a common problem that adds to your risk of sliding down. If the treads have this problem, consider installing ribbed vinyl mats that fit over them and are thinner in back than in the front. Mats come with curved or angular front edges, so you can match the shape of your treads. The price, about $20 per tread at http://www.floormat-store.com, might seem steep. But as accident insurance, it's a bargain.

Jeanne Huber

Need help? Is there something in your house or apartment that's clogged, cracked, broken or bedeviling? We'd like to help. Send your questions to Jeanne Huber at home@washpost.com.


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