Customized Stop-the-Slip Solutions
For Your Unique Conditions
Many homes include wooden ramps in order to make entrances more accessible for loved ones in wheelchairs or mobility scooters. However, when not using a mobility device, even the smallest incline can encourage slips, trips, and falls. The fear of slipping when walking up a ramp, or helping a loved one in a wheelchair can motivate you to find a solution.
Making your wood wheelchair ramp safer doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Here’s how one of our customers solved the slippery ramp problem.
Your Stop-the-Slip Solutions Graded:
HandiTreads aluminum treads are the most effective and long-lasting solution for minimizing the risk of slips and falls on wooden ramps that are often used for wheelchair access. Because ramps are inclined, they encourage slips and falls. When you add external conditions like rain, algae, or snow to a ramp, the slip and fall hazard increases dramatically.
HandiTreads work exceptionally well on long wooden ramps because they provide outstanding grip under even the most challenging conditions. The pressure from a foot stepping on the raised traction buttons pushes away the layer of debris, moisture, frost, or up to an inch of snow, creating solid contact between the tread and shoe. Unlike other non-slip solutions, a snow shovel can be used with HandiTreads to clear deep snow without fear of damaging the treads.
Installation of the aluminum HandiTreads is simple, as described in the installation instructions. Unlike grit paint, there’s no need for time-consuming and messy surface preparation. Once installed, no maintenance is required for HandiTreads which are guaranteed to last a lifetime in your home.
HandiTreads are available in four refined earth-toned shades that match popular colors of wooden ramps. The treads can either blend in with the wood of your ramp or create an appealing contrast in shades, making them the perfect anti-slip solution for homeowners that value both safety and home design.
The initial cost to fit a 10-foot or longer ramp with HandiTreads can be substantial, depending upon your budget. We recommend spacing the treads at eight inches apart, or every other board. Using 8-inch spacing, a 10-foot ramp would require approximately 15 treads.
Because HandiTreads are a lifetime solution with once-and-done installation and maintenance, the initial investment may be higher than other non-slip solutions. When calculated over a three to five year performance period, however, the investment in HandiTreads is often the most cost-effective solution.
Total Score: A-
Installation & Maintenance: A
Initial Price: C
Long-Term Value: A
Non-Slip Grit Tape: D-
For the most part, grit tape available at Home Depot or Amazon is not appropriate for outdoor use. There is no tape-based adhesive that can realistically stand up to rain, snow, and the inevitable heat and thaw cycles.
In a limited number of outdoor wooden ramp situations, non-slip grit tape can be a short-term solution to reduce slips and falls. Rain and frost are easily mitigated by the grit embedded into the tape. However, grit tape is not able to increase traction in snow. You also cannot use a snow shovel on grit tape. Not only will you pull the tape right off of the ramp if you catch an edge, but even a plastic blade will quickly degrade the thin coating protecting the aggregate.
The proper installation of non-slip grip tape does require a bit of effort as detailed here. First, it’s important that the wood surface, whether stained or painted, is clean, dry, and in good shape. Heavily grained, uneven, or splintering wood makes it difficult for the tape adhesive to completely bond. The effective life of grip tape is directly related to how carefully and completely it has adhered to the steps.
There’s no maintenance that can or should be done to the tape other than to be very careful of the edges and corners, which can be easily pulled up. Once a corner or edge begins to peel, the grip tape will quickly deteriorate.
If you’re comfortable with a lifespan on outdoor wood of six months to a year, grit tape can be an inexpensive temporary solution.
Total Score: D-
Installation & Maintenance: C
Initial Price: A
Long-Term Value: F
Heavy Duty Rubber Runners: C-
Heavy-duty rubber runners can be an effective, temporary way to increase the traction on a wood ramp safely if they are ADA compliant.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that mats be attached securely to the ramp and have beveled edges if over 1/4″ in thickness. This means that mats cannot be simply thrown down on the ramps.
While rubber runners handle moisture with ease, they must be kept free of snow if they are to be effective in the winter. The channels or cut-outs that provide traction in wet weather can also hold ice and snow. Care must be taken when using a snow shovel with rubber runners, as even a plastic blade can cut the rubber. Snow is best removed from the heavy-duty rubber runners by picking them up off the wooden ramp and shaking the snow off. This procedure must be repeated several times during heavy snow, increasing both the time and cost required to use them as a slip and fall solution. Rubber mats must also be cleaned fairly frequently as dirt and debris are easily caught and captured in the grooves or holes that provide traction and drainage.
Depending upon the thickness and quality of the rubber mat material you can expect the mat to last 2 to 4 years.
Total Score: C-
Installation & Maintenance: D
Initial Price: B
Long-Term Value: C
Grit Paint: C+
A high-quality (NOT Big Box Store) grit paint can improve the safety of a long, wooden outdoor ramp. It’s critical that you choose a top-notch grit paint like the Slip Doctor’s Dura Grip and Tuff Grip traction paints, that they are applied well, and that the paint is 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 are encapsulated in the paint, creating a rough, slip-resistant surface. We rate the effectiveness of grip paint very high for wet weather and frost, but it’s ineffectual with snow deeper than an inch.
Longevity is another challenge with anti-slip paint when used on a wooden ramp. The incline of the ramp creates much more pressure between shoes and, more often than not, the wheels of wheelchairs and mobility scooters. This increased pressure leads to a shorter life and the need to repaint the ramp after two to three years.
There is no maintenance that can be performed on anti-slip paints other than regular sweeping. However, if you live in a location that receives snow, you need to be very careful not to aggressively shovel a ramp painted with grit paint. While the epoxy or enamel coating is durable under normal foot traffic, it’s no match for an aluminum snow shovel. Once you start to scrape away the paint layer covering the aggregate, the system will quickly degrade.
The cost of a high-quality grit paint can run between $120 and $160 a gallon. In addition, you’ve got the consumable cost of paint brushes or rollers, trays, sandpaper, masking tape, and drop cloths that will likely cost an additional $40. However, the longer the ramp, the more efficient the application of grit paint which reduces its initial cost while enhancing the paint’s long-term value.