How to Make Outdoor Wooden Steps Non-Slip: 5 Effective Ways

No matter the season, outdoor wooden steps can get slippery! You may have experienced this firsthand, and I don’t doubt that you don’t want to experience it again. What can you do to make these stairs safe?

To make outdoor wooden stairs non-slip you can install stair treads or grips, apply grit paint, spread sand, apply wood-safe ice melt, and also install snow melting mats for the winter.

But what other ways can you prevent your outdoor stairs from getting too slippery, and are there any other safety precautions you can take for outdoor stairs? Let’s go over some popular options together and other tips to prevent slipping! 

5 Ways How to Make Outdoor Wooden Steps Non-Slip

Let’s go over my top five recommendations for how to make outdoor wooden steps non-slip. I will also give you a brief run-down of how to install and best use these products so that you can have safe and secure outdoor wooden steps!

Let’s get started.

1. Install Anti Slip Stair Treads/Grips

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One of the quickest and easiest installations for outdoor wooden stairs that you can perform yourself is applying anti slip stair treads or grips. Most of these are set up like a roll of tape, and you simply stick them onto your clean and dry wooden steps. 

A super easy option to try if you aren’t sure about the reliability of stair treads is stair grip tape like Trazon. All you have to do is peel and stick this product- it is waterproof, weather-resistant, and available in various grit options.

Trazon is listed on our 10 Best Anti-Slip Stair Treads for Outdoor Use article. If Trazon isn’t your top pick, feel free to look at the many different stair tread options in this article – all of them come highly recommended!

2. Install Snow Melting Mats (Winter Option)

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If you live in a location that sees a lot of snow, you could be dreading the idea of shoveling off your outdoor wooden steps every single day. That’s why installing snow-melting mats is a perfect option for your winter home!

The most complicated part of snow melting mats is their installation. It is important to have some electrical knowledge before attempting to set these up, as some require different power sources than others. Some products are easier to install than others, so keep this in mind when shopping.

The best option for stairs is the Summerstep Home Residential Snow Melting Heated Stair Mat, but make sure that if you purchase a few stair mats that you also grab the power cord needed for these mats to work!

However, snow melting mats are versatile and convenient otherwise, capable of heating and consistently melting snow and ice from your wooden outdoor stairs all day long! You can read more about snow melting mats here, and check out our list of our favorite snow melting mat products.

3. Apply Grit Paint

Are you planning on repainting your outdoor wooden stairs this spring or summer? You should consider adding grit additives to paint, or purchasing a paint with non-skid components. These products allow you to have non-slip outdoor wooden stairs as well as a fresh coat of paint- a two for one deal!

Did you know that this product exists and can make your outdoor stairs safer without complicated installations or unflattering grip tape? If you’re looking for a seamless and safe look for your wooden stairs, check out some of these products.

TotalBoat TotalTread Non-Skid Deck Paint is a weatherproof finish made originally for boat decks and other intense water situations. It will ensure that you won’t slip, and it will withstand a lot of inclement weather for seasons to come!

Sure Step Acrylic Anti-Slip Coating Paint is made specifically for stairs. This product is great if you want a no fuss anti-slip paint in a variety of colors. It also is resistant to standing water, making it perfect for rainy seasons.

Both of these products should have their own detailed instructions for how to properly apply it, but I always recommend cleaning your wooden steps thoroughly. You may also consider sanding down the wood beforehand too, depending on the current state of your stairs.

4. Wood-Friendly Ice Melt

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Have you heard of wood-friendly ice melt? Many people don’t realize that the melt they use on their driveway or sidewalks can harm wood, especially after many seasons of use. It is important to put wood-friendly ice melt on your outdoor wooden stairs rather than a heavier-duty sidewalk ice melt.

I highly recommend trying out Natural Rapport Pet-Friendly Ice Melt, an eco-friendly formula perfect for your outdoor wooden stairs as well as concrete, grass, and more. It is pet-friendly and less harmful to plants and vehicles and has a convenient portioning cap included.

Ice melt is easy to apply- simply sprinkle the product atop any ice or snow, and wait for it to melt. You can also apply ice melt the night before a storm or freeze and it will keep things nice and clear for you! Some ice melts can get clumpy in their containers, so this is something to watch out for while you are shopping.

5. Spread Sand

If you are looking for a cost-effective solution to your slippery outdoor wooden stairs, you can always spread sand or kitty litter on them. While these options won’t work nearly as well as the above solutions, it can work in a pinch!

The amount of sand or litter that you will use depends on how slippery the surface is, but I suggest beginning with a generous coating. While these options don’t work as well in active weather situations, you can get some non-slip help from sand for sure.

Safety Tips for Outdoor Wooden Stairs

You may be wondering what else you can do to keep your outdoor wooden stairs safe, season after season. While having some non-slip products and snow melting options are great, there are some other steps that you can take to maximize your safety. Let’s take a look.

Keep Your Stairs Clean and Dry!

It is very important to keep your stairs in good condition, no matter the season. The build up of leaves, mud, dirt, pollen, and any other debris can cause your wooden stairs to become slippery. If you can’t see the wood of your stairs under a pile of fall foliage, it’s time for a cleaning!

What’s even worse than that is that debris can start to rot the wood, causing the stairs to become even more dangerous. If you consistently leave your wooden stairs dirty and damp, mold, mildew, and rot can occur much faster than you think.

In winter, try to keep your outdoor wooden steps free of snow and ice. Water damage is the main cause of wood rotting and decaying, so simply keeping your stairs free of extra moisture can make a huge difference. 

Your wood stairs may also be in need of a pressure wash to remove slippery fungus growing on the wood. I know that this is a common need in the Pacific Northwest- moss removal can even be a full time job! However, there’s no point in purchasing anti-slip tape or paint unless you have a clean surface to apply it on.

Install a Handrail

One of the simplest things you can do to improve the safety of your outdoor wooden stairs? Install a handrail, if you don’t already have one. These can be purchased at most hardware stores or online. Just make sure you have accurate measurements before you purchase anything!

Apply a Preventative Coating

If you don’t know the current state of your outdoor wooden stairs, it may be a good idea to apply some sort of protective or preventative coating to them. This could include an anti-slip paint, but it could also be something as simple as a water seal or other water-resistant product.

We have a guide with a variety of outdoor wood sealers that you can check out here!

There are even paints and primers with mold and weather-resistant options, such as this Olympic Stain Maximum Deck Stain. These products can help your wooden stairs and deck look new again, as well as preventing water and UV damage.

Consider Installing Anti-Slip Decking Boards

If it is time to replace your outdoor wooden stairs, you may want to consider a new material entirely. There are many anti-slip decking boards available, both for your stairs and your entire deck! These materials are composite, often made of recycled goods, and can be installed either professionally or on your own (if you’re handy enough).

I highly recommend checking out NeoTimber’s product lineup, or GripDeck’s anti-slip options. While these options may be expensive, they are good options to consider. However, shipping these products from the UK may not be ideal for you.

If you are based in the US or Canada, check out Trex, an eco-friendly decking option with many color schemes and ideas. You can even get matching railings so that your entire deck and outdoor stairs form one flawless piece!

Check with your local contractors to see what is available for you in your specific area. Keep in mind that composite decking isn’t a cheap option, especially if you need a solution for your slippery stairs right away. However, these options can provide a safe staircase and entire deck for years to come!

Final Thoughts

Choosing an effective and affordable anti-slip option for your outdoor wooden stairs is easier than you think. If you are searching for a product that will keep your stairs safe all year long, you’ve come to the right place.

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