Customized Stop-the-Slip Solutions
For Your Unique Conditions
Reducing Slips and Falls on Concrete Steps
If you live in a state where you experience even a little freezing and snow, concrete steps present a special slip-and-fall hazard in the winter. Not only does ice build up faster on concrete than on wood, within a year or two, concrete stairs can begin to crack and chip. Once the edges of a concrete stair tread start to crack, they become slip and fall hazards.
Your Stop-the-Slip Solutions Graded:
Non-Slip Grit Tape: N/A
Anti-slip tape cannot be successfully used on bare concrete steps. Grip tape will not consistently adhere to bare concrete surfaces because moisture is absorbed by and seeps out of concrete. The adhesive-backed paper tape cannot cope with moisture that will attack it from the underside of the tape.
Rubber or Door Mat Style Treads: C-
While door mat style and rubber treads can be successfully installed on raw concrete stairs, their lack of structural rigidity can lead to significant problems in a relatively short amount of time. The only safe way to affix the rubber or fiber treads to concrete is with the use of lags and screws. Because mats have no structural rigidity, if any one one of the lags gives way, that corner of the door mat or rubber tread can pop up, creating a slip-and-fall hazard itself. The lack of structural rigidity also encourages lags to become loose, something not suffered by the stiff aluminum of Handi-Treads.
Both rubber and door mat style treads can be effective in wet and winter weather if they are kept free of snow. Care must be taken when using a snow shovel with rubber treads as even a plastic blade can cut the rubber. Snow can be removed from door mat style treads with a shovel fairly easily as long as care is taken not to lodge the shovel under the edge of the tread.
Some rubber stair treads suggest that it is acceptable to use adhesive caulk to secure rubber or door mat treads to painted cement. We think this is poor advice as concrete is prone to spalling, which is similar to paint peeling.
There is no maintenance that can be performed on rubber or door mat style stair treads. Deeply patterned or cut treads collect dirt in the gaps and must be cleaned using a leaf blower or water during the summer.
Depending upon thickness and quality of the material you can expect rubber or door mat style treads to last 2 to 3 years.
Grit Paint: C+
Grit paint can reduce slipperiness on raw concrete stairs in most environmental conditions. Grit paint can improve the safety of a deck or porch if (1) it’s a high-quality enamel or epoxy paint, (2) it’s applied meticulously and (3) it’s maintained properly.
Like grit tape, non-slip paints include an aggregate that creates traction. The best anti-slip paints contain aluminum oxide or carborundum that, while encapsulated in the paint, create a rough, slip resistant surface. We rate the effectiveness of grip paint very high for wet weather, frost, and a dusting of snow.
Non-slip paints on exterior surfaces are, by and large, maintenance free. However, if you live where it snows you need to be very careful not to aggressively shovel the stairs painted with grit paint. While the epoxy or enamel coating is durable under normal foot traffic, it’s no match for an aluminum or even plastic snow shovel. Once you start to scrape way the thin paint layer covering the aggregate, the system will quickly degrade.
The cost of a high-quality grit paint can run between $60 and $120 a gallon. In addition, you’ve got the consumable cost of paint brushes or rollers, trays, sandpaper, masking tape, and drop cloths. When all costs are factored, and depending upon the number of stairs, grit paint can be one of the most expensive solutions.
Grit paint, properly applied, can be expected to last 2 to 4 years on raw concrete steps.