How to Make Traction on Stairs With Paint

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Make stairs safer with traction paint.
Make stairs safer with traction paint. (Image: David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Sure-footedness on stairs is important to prevent dangerous accidents as people ascend and descend the steps. Although you could add non-slip treads or carpet to stairs, you may wish to leave the stairs bare instead. One option is to create traction on stairs with paint. With basic preparation and application, your stairs will have a rough surface that will help people keep their balance and avoid slipping.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Scrub brush
  • 60-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • Traction paint (spray or liquid)
  • 3-inch flat paintbrush or 3/8-inch paint roller

Fill the bucket with water and add one or two squirts of dishwashing detergent to the water. Dip the scrub brush into the soapy water, and scrub the stairs well to remove all surface dirt and dust. Rinse the stairs with water, and allow them to dry completely.

Sand the stairs with sandpaper to scuff the surface prior to painting. Rub every inch of the treads to create a rough surface. Wipe the stairs thoroughly with the tack cloth to remove dust from sanding.

Apply lines of painter’s tape around the perimeter of the treads to prevent the traction paint from spreading to other areas as you apply it.

Apply the traction paint. Spray the traction paint onto the treads by holding the can about 14 to 16 inches away from the treads and spraying, or brush on liquid traction paint with a paint roller or paintbrush to coat the treads thoroughly. Apply either the spray or liquid paint in a thin and even layer.

Allow the paint to dry for approximately six hours before using the stairs.

Remove the painter’s tape.

Tips & Warnings

  • If spraying traction paint, use pieces of plastic or cardboard to shield surrounding areas from overspray.
  • Traction paint comes in clear finish and colors that may match your stairs.

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