How to Make Wood Stairs Less Slippery

Wood is a classic and stylish option for stairs. They deliver an opulent appeal that is hard to find in other materials.

However, despite its elegance, wood can be slippery- a hazard to you and your family.

So, how can you reduce the possibility of slipping? We’ve researched many options that promise to deliver adequate solutions.

Read on to learn how to make wood stairs less slippery.

How to Make Wood Stairs Less Slippery

  1. Use a carpet
  2. Use Transparent Anti-Slip Strips
  3. Use Anti-Slip Tape
  4. Apply Anti-Slip Floor Finishes
  5. Apply an Anti-Slip Spray
  6. Use Non-Slip Paint Additives
  7. Anti-Slip Adhesive Stair Treads
  8. Fix Your Stairs
  9. Remove Wax
  10. Use Stair Carpet Strips
  11. Wipe Off Spilled Liquid Immediately

Making Wood Stairs Less slippery

 Fortunately, you can make your stairs slip-free without spending a fortune. Here’s how to make wood stairs less slippery while maintaining a desirable appearance.

 1. Use a Carpet

You can install a carpet on your wooden stairs to add traction. Besides making your staircase slip-proof, carpets enhance the aesthetic value of your home.

A simpler way is to install individual carpet stair treads on each step. Or, you could use stair runners that cover all the steps.

In either case, ensure that the carpet is low pile and flat. Here’s an in-depth explanation of the two.

Stair Runners

These are carpet pieces that run down the entire length of the stairs. However, they don’t cover the full width of each step.

Besides making your stairs safer, a carpet runner protects the wood from damage. Moreover, they reduce noise and enhance the appeal of your home.

However, this option is more expensive to install and maintain. It is also complicated to set up since you need the exact measurements.

Once they get dirty, they become hard to clean. Additionally, you risk wearing down the edge of each step, resulting in a slick stair.

To install a carpet runner, you need a knee kicker and a pneumatic stapler, among other tools. Also, you’ll need to place an underlayment on every tread.

Stair runners don’t cover the entire width of the stairs. So, you’ll still be able to sight the beautiful grain of your wood on either side of the carpet.

While this option comes at a cost, it guarantees to prevent slips and falls.

Carpet Stair Treads

If you’re still down for the carpet option, you could choose to install carpet stair treads instead. These are individual pieces of carpet that you place on each stair.

Since they’re easy to install, carpet stair treads offer a significant advantage over carpet runners. Moreover, they’re less expensive and easier to clean.

Here are the steps for installing carpet stair treads:

  • Clean the stairs
  • Measure the length and width of each stair
  • Net, place carpet tape pieces on each trade to hold them in place. Alternatively, you could use non-skid rug pads for this purpose
  • Lastly, place the treads down and apply gentle pressure until they adhere to each step

Remove the treads from the steps and wipe down the wood surface to clean them. Next, soak the treads in soap and water or scrub them. Finally, re-install them correctly. This ensures the carpet tread fibers provide enough traction.

However, carpet stair treads come with their fair share of disadvantages. They include the following;

  • They don’t provide adequate protection since they don’t wrap around each step.
  • They are difficult to vacuum clean.
  • When installed incorrectly, they can slide, causing more harm than they’d prevent.

Nevertheless, use low pile carpet if you work with adhesive stair treads or stair runners. High-pile carpet can get into the way of your foot, resulting in accidents.

2. Use Transparent Anti-Slip Strips

Adhesive, transparent anti-slip strips are another suitable option. As the name suggests, these strips are see-through. Thus, installing it allows you to admire the beautiful grain of your finished wood steps.

The product comes with a roller that you can use during installation. The roller eliminates air bubbles in the strip. This allows for perfect blending with the rest of the stairs.

Besides working on indoor and outdoor stairs, these strips are versatile. Thus, you can use them on materials other than wood.

Unfortunately, removing these strips can be a hard nut to crack. This is true should you want to discontinue using the product. Still, this will depend on the product type and the manufacturer.

Most transparent anti-slip adhesive stair strips consist of eco-friendly materials. They’re PVC-free and allow for indoor, barefoot applications.

Unlike transparent black strips, clear strips provide a tactile yet smooth surface. This makes it comfortable to walk on.

Outdated transparent trips were notorious for attracting dirt. This would affect the appearance of wood steps. Consequently, it defeats the purpose of transparency in the strips.

However, contemporary transparent strips offer an easy-to-clean surface. You only need water and a piece of cloth to give them a clear shine.

3. Use Anti-Slip Tape

You’ve likely come across this product in most institutional or commercial establishments. This is the typical thick black grip tape on stair treads.

If you’ve used anti-slip tapes, you’ll attest that they deliver effective slip-proof surfaces. Interestingly, this tape is 80-grit sandpaper with an adhesive backing.

Moreover, this tape is weather-resistant. As a result, you could use it for interior and exterior projects without peeling off.

However, while it’s weatherproof, I wouldn’t recommend installing it on a pool deck. This rule also applies to areas experiencing constant moisture. Yet, anti-slip tapes can withstand rain and other elements.

A major downside of installing anti-slip tape on your wood stairs is that it’s difficult to get it off. Moreover, it includes an adhesive backing that isn’t kind to wood finishes.

Subsequently, expect the wood finish to come right off when you pull the strips off.

Also, the tape is rough to the touch and may be uncomfortable to trod on barefoot. Instead, it is more suitable for deployment in an industrial space or workplace.

While anti-slip tapes guarantee a non-slip experience, their feel and look make them impractical for your house.

4. Apply Anti-Slip Floor Finishes

You can use an anti-slip floor finish to make wood stairs less slippery. I recommend it, particularly for curve-framed stairs, where carpeting can be more demanding.

Moreover, it suits applications where you don’t wish to hide the beauty of your staircase. by installing a carpet.

Moreover, you needn’t worry about ruining your stairs with anti-slip finishes. Typically, you could use paint or clear coatings to achieve anti-slip stair surfaces.

Fortunately, with anti-slip floor paint for stair risers, you can achieve less slickness on your staircase steps. Moreover, it doesn’t interfere with or compromise hardwood’s natural grain.

Besides offering a transparent anti-slip floor finish, many products come in different finishes. These finishes include gloss and matte.

A major downside with applying an anti-slip floor finish comes when you need to remove them. Most likely, you’ll endure a difficult experience removing them. Moreover, you could end up damaging your stair tread.

Also, while most anti-slip floor finishes are water-based, scrubbing or using chemical agents like mineral spirits could damage your stairs’ original finish.

As a cautionary measure, test some of the anti-slip floor finish on a scrap wood piece of the same type. This will help you to anticipate the outcome.

If the finish amuses you, use these long-lasting options. You’ll achieve a less slippery staircase without affecting their natural appearance.

Also find out, is composite decking safe to walk on when it’s wet?

5. Apply an Anti-Slip Spray

Anti-slip sprays offer a cheaper alternative for increasing staircase traction. It’s an affordable option for staircases compared to carpets or roll-on anti-slip finishes.

Besides being one of the easiest anti-slip options to apply, it delivers a transparent finish. This finish allows you to see the beauty of natural wood.

Although they’re affordable, anti-slip spray for wood stairs isn’t a durable option. Moreover, while renowned paint brands sell anti-slip spray, it doesn’t mean they’ll deliver the expected results. After using it, I noticed that it gives a darker appearance or changes the color of wood surfaces.

If you have already applied a finish, the spray-on coating might change your wooden stair’s appearance.

Moreover, since you’ll require several coats, there’ll be a significant change. Finally, it’ll alter the appearance despite the product being transparent.

While roll-on paints guarantee excellent coverage, you are less likely to achieve a uniform finish with spray paints. Consequently, this not only affects its durability but its appearance as well.

You might settle for an anti-slip spray since it’s incredibly simple to access and apply. However, trusting a low-end product to rise to the occasion will result in disappointment.

6. Use Non-Slip Paint Additives

Good luck coming across one if you are looking for non-slip paint. Instead, manufacturers provide a packaged non-slip additive. You can add to any floor paint that makes surfaces slip-proof.

This option includes using additives such as sand that binds to the paint. As a result, achieve a sandpaper-like surface. Since sand has no effect when mixed with paint, this addition won’t affect the color or finish of your wood stairs.

Moreover, with non-slip paint additives, you decide how much anti-slip ingredient goes into the paint. Typically, add less of the additive if you want to achieve a ridged texture on your surface. On the contrary, add the entire additive package if you wish for a denser or rougher texture.

 Naturally, with this option, the grit will damage the underneath wood over time. As a result, removing the paint will require that you refinish and sand your wooden stairs.

If you’re wondering how to make wooden stairs less slippery, there’s no practical option than using a non-slip paint additive.

7. Anti-Slip Adhesive Stair Treads

Most business buildings’ staircases use anti-slip adhesive stair treads to avoid sliding. Contemporary anti-slip stair treads contain non-toxic materials that don’t include any PVC.

This type of adhesive stair tread makes your stairs safer without a doubt. However, I don’t recommend using it indoors, especially for residential applications.

Besides being unattractive on wooden stairs, commercial anti-slip treads have a rough texture. This texture could irritate little feet. You can substitute anti-slip stair treads for domestic use with transparent anti-slip adhesive strips.

By adding traction on the surface of each tread, these anti-slip adhesive treads make stairs less slippery. Roll the end of the treads containing the adhesive to install.

However, anti-slip adhesive stair treads have their set of disadvantages. Firstly, you may experience a challenge installing them straight. Typically, you’ll find it hard to maintain a straight line since you have to reel individual threads onto each step.

Secondly, air bubbles are inevitable since wood stairs feature many fissures and irregularities. Fortunately, anti-slip adhesive treads come with a roller that beats this malfunction. Therefore, use a roller to remove air bubbles after installing the adhesive treads.

Lastly, once installed, these products are difficult to remove. However, doing so will result in minor property damage. I also noticed how they leave a small residue that you must scrub away.

Moreover, when removing them, expect the paint on your stairwell to peel off. However, this isn’t the case if you have stained wood flooring.

8. Fix Your Stairs

In some homes, particularly older ones, the dimensions of the staircase steps may be off. This could result in loss of footing for people who aren’t used to an extra inch, or lack of it.

Typically, the standard dimension for stairs is 7×11 inches. This means that each stair riser should measure 7 inches. On the other hand, the stair tread- the horizontal surface- should measure 11 inches.

While no two staircase sets are exactly alike, expect these measurements to vary. However, modern homes have stairs measuring exactly 7 by 11 inches.

Sometimes, your slippery stairs may offer a constant nag. However, you wouldn’t wish to cover the beautiful appeal of the hardwood stair.

In this case, get a measuring tape instead of the products listed here. Chances are high that some of the treads and risers are disproportionate.

Even with an ½” error, your stairs could result in tripping, sliding, and falling. Once you realize that your treads and risers aren’t uniform, here are some remedies to try;

  • Redo the entire flight of stairs
  • Remove the culprit riser or tread using a saw or shims to lower/raise it
  • Install any of the products above

Your local building codes also determine the required dimensions for your staircase. If yours isn’t up to code, contact a professional to fix or replace them.

9. Remove Wax

Some wooden stairs and rails tend to become slippery after constant waxing. If this is your case, adding a non-skid coating or anti-slip products may not be practical. As a result, your only option is to apply chemical solvents to remove wax or wood soaps.

Moreover, you could use sandpaper or plain steel wool to roughen up the step surfaces. While this may dull any polished wooden sparkle, it’ll make your stairs safer and less slippery.

10. Use Stair Carpet Strips

While they resemble adhesive strips, carpet strips are rectangle pieces cut to fit a standard tread size. Moreover, stair carpet strips don’t come with an adhesive backing. As a result, it won’t cause any damage to your hardwood stairs should you consider removing them.

Carpet strips come in various sizes and designs to fit wide and narrow steps. The backing, which is tacky and not adhesive, helps to keep the carpet in place.

However, carpet strips aren’t practical enough. They tend to slip, negating the main reason for installing them.

Moreover, if you have kids or pets, the strips won’t last long. Kids will peel them off or move them/ This movement wears out the ability of the strips to stay in place.

11. Wipe Off Spilled Liquid Immediately

This one comes as a no-brainer. Even after applying a non-slip finish, your hardwood staircase will become slippery if spills occur. Consequently, accidents may occur.

Moreover, stairs can become slippery if it has collected dirt and moisture for a while. If this is your case, clean each step using hardwood cleaners.

In addition to preventing accidents, cleaning wooden stairs maintains their luster.

It is also easier to slip on it if it has been collecting dirt and moisture and you haven’t cleaned it for a while. When cleaning;

  • Vacuum the staircase or sweep using a broom or microfiber sheets
  • Use a hardwood floor cleaner that’s compatible with your finish
  • Wipe the stairs meticulously using a cleaner. Remember to clear all grease spots

 How Long Do Anti-Slip Finishes Last?

Applying anti-slip liquid on the hardwood will last for about five years. However, you’ll only enjoy this service span with regular dusting and cleaning. Avoid cleaning the surface with harsh cleaning agents to ensure the coating lasts.

Also, some anti-slip treatments require you to sand the wood surface for the chemical to stick. If you’re an inexperienced woodworker, sanding floorboards may be challenging. So, to ensure that you don’t ruin your hardwood floors, follow the instructions before buying an anti-slip finish.

Upon applying the liquid, spare 6-12 hours for the coating to dry fully to the touch.

What makes Hardwood Slippery?

Natural wood consists of porous material that isn’t slippery. However, applying certain hardwood finishes makes the surfaces more slippery.

Moreover, floor treatments such as polishes that make wood shiny contribute to slipping. Similarly, excessive use of wax polish may result in accidental falls and injuries.

Hardwood can be slippery with a considerable amount of grime, grease, and dust. As such, ensure that you offer proper care and maintenance. This includes cleaning and dusting.

Also, older hardwood that you haven’t refinished or sanded for long tends to be more slippery. Subsequently, a good rule of thumb is to sand or refinish if the anti-slip finish ceases to work.

How To Take Care of Hardwood Stairs?

Offering adequate maintenance to wooden stairs is important. Not only does it protect the fixture but also the people living in the house. Here are some common ways to take care of hardwood stairs;

Fix Dents

With regular wear, dents will occur on your staircase over time. As a result, ensure that you fix them as soon as possible before they create a hazard. Alternatively, you could seek professional help if you aren’t a DIYer.

Avoid Using Harsh Chemicals When Cleaning

While maintenance is key for the longevity of your staircase, steer clear of harsh cleaning agents such as ammonia.

Besides damaging your wood finish, these solvents dissolve the lignin in the wood. Lignin maintains the structural integrity of hardwood. As a result, you don’t want to use anything that breaks its polymer chain.

Only use compatible chemicals and solvents for hardwood stairs to last a long time.

Related Post: Stop Bed Sliding on Wood Floor


How do you stop wooden stairs from being slippery?

To prevent stains from being slippery, increase the wood traction. For this, you can use carpet strips, stair runners, or anti-slip adhesive stair treads. Also, applying an anti-slip coating to the stairs will make them safer.

Are wooden stairs too slippery?

If wood stairs are too slippery, why do people install them in their homes? You may ask. While a well-installed set of stairs looks eccentric, it may pose a hazard to your family.  However, to get the steps shining, you’ll need to sand them to an ultra-smooth finish.

Moreover, you’ll want to apply a layer of nonslip polyurethane on stairs or Wax. Polishing the wooden stair treads makes them slippery. Sanding the steps with coarse sandpaper makes each tread rougher, offering more traction. However, sanding off your stairs will result in a poor tread appearance. Thus, this isn’t a suitable option.

Now, read our article on the best polyurethane for stair treads and railings.

How do you make wooden stairs less slippery for dogs?

 A good way to give slippery stairs an extra grip is to use adhesive stair treads. Place a stick-on tread on each step and your pet dog will never slip down the stairs. Alternatively, you could use a stair runner.

How do I make my steep stairs safer?

To make stairs safer to climb and descend, reduce the stair riser height and increase the tread depth. However, adhere to your local building codes when restructuring your staircase.


As you’ve realized, learning how to make wood stairs less slippery will eliminate the risk of injuries that result from slipping. 

While stairs should be safe and functional, they shouldn’t lose their visual appeal. As a result, settle for products that meet all your expectations.  

How have you made your wood stairs less slippery? Leave a comment below. Who knows, you might be doing a great service to many families.

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