Outdoor areas like patios, driveways, and decking can be very dangerous when wet. But non-slip paint can help you keep everybody safe. Did you know that you can make your own non-slip paint at home with a few cheap items? This guide will tell you everything you need to know about mixing sand with paint to make it non-slip.
Can You Add Sand to Paint to Make it Non-Slip?
Yes, if you want to add traction to paint, you can mix sand with it. The sand creates a textured surface that offers more grip, even if the surface is wet. This is ideal for making surfaces safer. The paint still has the same properties as it normally would, the sand just gives it added texture. However, you must get the formulation and use the right type of sand for the best results.
What Type of Sand Can You Add to Paint?
There are two key things to consider when choosing sand to add to your paint; impurities and coarseness. It’s vital that the sand is clean and does not contain lots of impurities. If you dig up sand from the beach or use sandy soil from the yard, it will be filled with all kinds of impurities and you cannot tell how these will affect the paint. They can damage the finish and stop it from adhering properly. They can also cause the sand to clump up instead of mixing evenly through the paint. So, you need to buy clean sand.
Secondly, consider how coarse you need the sand to be. The rougher the sand, the more traction it will give you. But incredibly coarse sand will also be very rough against the skin, so it’s not ideal for areas where people are walking barefoot (like around a pool). Play sand that you buy for sandboxes or craft projects is ideal because it is coarse enough to give the right texture and it’s completely clean.
You can also use silica sand, which is often used for construction projects and is specifically designed for mixing with paint. You’ll find it at hardware stores or online and it comes in different grain sizes, so you can choose the exact texture you need.
What Type of Paints Can You Add Sand to?
You should be able to add sand to any kind of paint and get good results. Latex and waterproof paints work best and other types can go a little runny when you add the sand. But as long as you add the sand bit by bit and find the right ratio, you should be fine.
The most important thing is that you use the right paint for the job. Usually, you add sand to paint because you want to make floors less slippery. So, you need a good quality floor paint that can withstand heavy foot traffic. If you are painting a deck, you need durable wood paint designed for exterior use.
Consider the application and select the most suitable paint, just as you would if you were not adding sand, because the paint performs in the same way regardless.
See all our most recommended options in our 10 Best Exterior Anti-Slip Paints for Wood and Concrete guide here.
How to Add Sand to Paint (Step-by-Step)
1. Prepare the surface
Prepare the surface as you normally would when painting. Remove any old flaking paint and sand the area down. Give it a good clean and let it dry. Apply a primer to the surface (if necessary) and let it dry.
2. Mix 4 parts paint to 1 part sand
The exact ratio of paint to sand is different depending on the type of paint you’re using and the coarseness of the sand. However, 4 parts paint to 1 part paint is a good starting point. Start by mixing a small amount, aiming for a 4:1 ratio, and stir it thoroughly so the sand is evenly distributed.
3. Apply to a test area and adjust ratios
Before you start painting properly, apply the mixture to a test area. This could be a scrap piece of wood or if you are painting a concrete floor or something similar, do a small patch in the corner. Let it dry and see how it comes out. How did the paint go on? Is it coarse enough? What does the finish look like? If you are happy, you can continue, but if you are not, adjust the ratios slightly to get the right finish.
4. Mix the rest of the paint and apply
When you are happy, you can mix the rest of the paint and apply it. Mix around half a gallon of paint at a time and stir your paint in. Make sure that you stir periodically while you are applying it because the sand will start to settle over time and you won’t get an even distribution.
Apply the paint using whatever method you normally would if it didn’t have the sand in. Just be aware that it won’t go on the same and the brush and roller strokes won’t be quite as smooth. Low-pile and foam rollers tend to be better because the sand gets stuck in a long-pile roller quite easily. Take your time and ensure that you get a good coat all over.
5. Let the first coat dry
Now, let the first coat dry fully. The sand shouldn’t affect the dry time but it’s important that the paint is properly cured before you move on to the next step. So, look at the guidelines on the paint and then add a few extra hours just to be sure.
6. Apply a second coat of paint without sand
When you apply the second coat of paint, do it without sand. You should get enough traction from a single coat, as long as you get the mix right. The second coat just serves to make the paint more durable, as it normally does. You will also notice some dark spots where the sand is after the first coat. The second coat will cover these and give you an even color. However, they will show through when the paint starts to wear. So, you will need to recoat the paint more often if you use sand in it.
Can You Add Anti-Slip Paint Additives Instead?
Yes you can purchase anti-slip additives like Rust-Oleum Marine Anti-Slip Additive. These act in much the same way as sand (and some of them are actually made from sand). This Rust-Oleum additive is made from a pumice material that adds texture to paint, and it can be used in latex and oil-based paints. The process of mixing it is the same as it is with sand.
Anti-slip additives can be better than using sand, in some cases. Things like glass powder are more durable than sand, so the finish won’t wear as quickly. You can guarantee that the additive is clean enough to add to paint and won’t impact the color or the finish. Additives come in different sizes too, so you can be more accurate when choosing how coarse you want it to be (although you do have that option with silica sand).
Overall, the benefit of using anti-slip additives is that they remove the trial-and-error element. You know that they are clean and free of impurities, you can pick the exact size, and there are detailed instructions about mixing. But sand is quite easy to get right, as long as you buy clean sand and do a small test when you are mixing it. It’s also a cheaper option.
Can You Just Buy Anti-Slip Paint?
Yes, if you want to save yourself some time, you can just buy anti-slip paint. Paints like Slip Doctors Tuff Grip already have the anti-slip additives in them, so you can just apply them like you would any other paint. All kinds of anti-slip paint for different materials are available, and they do make life easier because you don’t need to mix it yourself.
That said, you are limited in terms of the color and any specific properties in the paint. The great thing about adding sand or anti-slip additives yourself is that you can turn any paint into anti-slip paint.
That said, if you just need a simple paint for a concrete floor or patio area, you can easily find the right color. If you are interested in anti-slip paint, check out my article on the 10 best options here.
When to Use a Textured Anti-Slip Paint?
You can use textured anti-slip paint whenever you are concerned about people slipping and falling, often on wet surfaces. They can be used for exterior and interior projects, but they tend to be used outside more often to make surfaces safe when they are wet. Common uses include:
You can also use anti slip stair treads in many situations where paint isn’t an option. You can see my most recommended tread options in 10 Best Anti Slip Stair Treads for Outdoor Use!
Ant-Slip Related Questions
Can You Add Beach Sand to Paint?
No, you shouldn’t add beach sand to paint. You have no control over what is in the paint and it likely contains lots of impurities. The size of the grains is not uniform either because there are lots of different materials in there. Ultimately, this creates an uneven texture on the paint and it can clump up easily. Some of the impurities can also affect how the paint bonds to the surface, so it peels and flakes off. Always purchase clean sand to add to your paint to avoid this.
Should You Prime Before Adding the Anti-Slip Coat?
Yes, you should follow all of the steps you normally would when painting, including priming. It’s especially important when adding sand to the paint because you need to ensure that it bonds properly. If it cracks and peels, the sand will make it come away from the surface much faster. Always make sure you prep the surface properly by sanding and cleaning it, and then apply a few coats of good quality primer.
Can You Add Sand to Paint for Walls and Ceilings?
Yes, you can add sand to paint for walls and ceilings. People do this to create a textured effect. You can buy textured paint that already has sand or another gritty substance mixed in, but it’s cheaper to do it yourself with some sand.
The process is much the same. Make sure you use clean sand (silica sand works great for interior paints) and mix it at a ratio of around 4:1. However, you can adjust the ratio depending on the kind of texture you want. Again, test it first to make sure the mix is right before you start painting your walls and ceilings.
Can You Add Baking Soda to Paint for Traction?
Adding baking soda to paint does create a textured effect. Baking soda is a reactive agent that is normally used for making cakes rise. When you add it to paint, it reacts in a similar way, making the paint fluffy/foamy. As it dries, you get a rougher texture on the surface. To get this effect, mix roughly 1 tablespoon of baking soda per cup of paint. You can add a bit more if you want more texture.
This technique is great for aesthetic purposes and people often use it on things like vases. However, it’s not the best choice if you want to add traction to the paint because the finish is not as even. The reaction is unpredictable and the texture can be rougher in some areas. While it might look good, it’s not the most reliable for anti-slip purposes. But when you use sand, you can mix it through evenly and ensure that the whole area has a textured finish.
Using sand to create anti-slip paint is easy and it saves you a bit of money. You can use anti-slip paints if you want to save time, but they are the more expensive option. Anti-slip additives can be a good choice if you are concerned about making mistakes and damaging the finish on your paint. But as long as you use clean sand and take care when mixing, you should get great results.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.