Hardwood floors appear stunning, but they can sometimes be slippery to walk across. The wood itself isn’t inherently slippery, but things like dust, dirt, and the waxes and polishes used to create the shining surface can make them slick. So how do you keep from falling? There are many tips you can use on how to make wood floors less slippery.
The easiest way to make wood floors less slippery is to clean them of dust and debris frequently. You can also buy products like door mats, rugs, non-slip pads, or anti-slip treatments. If all else fails, remove the wax residue or sand and refinish the flooring.
In this article, we’ll show you each method to make a hardwood floor less slippery and discuss the pros and cons of each.
What Makes a Hardwood Floor Slippery?
Wood is a porous surface that we don’t usually think of as slippery, so why do we easily slide across hardwood floors?
The slickness doesn’t only take place when you’re wearing socks. In general, there are many reasons the floor may feel slick. It could be dirt and debris or a coating like wax or polish that’s turned your hardwood into a dangerous obstacle.
How to Make Wood Floors Less Slippery: 9 Easy Ways
There are many effective options to reduce your chances of slipping on hardwood floors, regardless of the wood type. Here are the most likely methods, listed from easy to difficult (and pricey) to implement.
1. Clean Floors Frequently
The most likely, and thus, the easiest fix for slippery floors is to keep them clean and dry. Removing dust and debris regularly will significantly reduce the slipperiness you experience on your hardwood floor. Dry contaminants like powder or dust can cause your feet to slip on the surface. They also fill in the natural peaks in the wood that provide friction, causing you to slide.
It’s crucial to sweep and mop hardwood floors regularly to prevent falls. Sweep the floors at least once per day or more in heavy-use rooms. For example, the kitchen floor typically requires sweeping every time you prepare a meal.
Mopping at least once per week can also help reduce the buildup of grime, which can create slickness. Low traffic areas may only require mopping once per month or less. Try using a microfiber mop head for the best results on wood floors.
For a bonus to fighting against slippery floors, select a broom with soft bristles or a mop treated with some type of dusting agent. A vacuum is another excellent option for cleaning, especially if it has a non-abrasive hose attachment.
Also, consider completing a deep clean twice per year to keep your wood flooring in top condition. Remember to slightly damp the mop and wring it out rather than allow water to pool on the wood’s surface. Drying excess water or spills immediately may help maintain hardwood as well.
The Downside to Cleaning Regularly
No one wants to sweep and mop hardwood floors. The biggest downside to regular cleaning is performing the work. Hardwood flooring is also costly. If you have the budget for hiring someone to clean your home, you may want to consider doing so if you have pricey hardwood floors.
2. Use Door Mats
A traditional door mat is another easy option for reducing slick floors. If you place door mats at both sides of each entrance, you can significantly reduce how much dirt and debris gets in your home. Mats add a layer of protection to reduce how often you need to clean the floors, as less outdoor material gets tracked onto the floors.
The Downside to Door Mats
Buying two door mats for each entrance can become expensive. Depending on your home’s size, you could need six mats or more to cover each door. Rubber or plastic mats are also not organically disposable. You might be able to recycle some brands when your door mats reach the end of their lifespan.
The Best Door Mats
The Gorilla Grip Original Rubber Door Mat is a best-seller on Amazon and one of the best door mats available on the market today. It’s durable, natural, and waterproof. You can use the mat indoors or out, and they’re easy to clean.
Although the mat is made from rubber, the high-quality material includes polypropylene fabric for durability. The material absorbs moisture and dirt as well, allowing your floors to stay clean longer.
The awesome part about this door mat is that it’s highly versatile. It’s flexible and stylish enough for any setting, from living spaces to the patio. The sleek low profile design allows a door to swing over the mat with ease, and a hand-held vacuum can help you keep the mat clean in no time.
3. Try an Area Rug
Add an area rug on your hardwood floors in well-traffic areas like walkways and main living spaces. Rugs provide an extra layer of grip to keep your feet on the surface. They also offer fewer opportunities for dirt to move around your home, similar to door mats.
The best area rugs for hardwood floors have a backing to keep them from sliding around the floor. For example, rugs with a rubber bottom are a quick fix. Look for features like this, or purchase adhesives to lock the rug in place (more on non-slip pads later).
The Downside to Area Rugs
The downside to area rugs is that they hide your gorgeous hardwood floor from view. But with strategic placement and an excellent pattern, you can create a stylish and functional space.
The Best Area Rugs
The nuLOOM Moroccan Blythe Area Rug is a small, 3 x 5-foot rug perfect for a walkway, doorway, or living room. It’s available in 10 varying colors and patterns.
The kid and pet-friendly rug resists average wear and tear and stains, making it ideal for busy living areas.
This area rug is sleek and functional. The 0.37-inch pile means you can place the rug under furniture or in doorways without the height causing obstructions. Plus, the rug is stylish and will never go out of style.
4. Add Non-Slip Pads to Rugs
If you have rugs or mats that slide, try adding non-slip pads to keep them in place. The quick fix allows you to use the rug to reduce dirt and provide traction for your feet, at least while you find a more permanent solution.
Many non-slip rug pads are available on the market today. They work well with runners, door mats, and any sized area rugs. They’re perfect for high-traffic areas like entryways, and you can often customize the size or shape with only scissors.
The Downside to Non-Slip Pads
Although non-slip pads don’t typically cause damage, they may leave visible marks or adhesive when you remove them. That said, some rug pads cause the wood to discolor. Cheap brands may include oil that releases slowly over time, causing sweat damage to the wood.
The Best Non-Slip Pads
The Veken Non-Slip Rug Pad Gripper is a thick, square pad for hard surfaces. It helps keep your rug in place, and the pad comes in many sizes. The non-slip protection prevents your rug from bunching or sliding under your feet. It also protects the floors against water damage or normal wear and tear. Plus, the pad boosts the cushion and comfort factor.
This non-slip rug pad is durable and long-lasting. The premium material allows the pad to protect your floor without causing any damage over time. It even comes with a two-year risk-free warranty from the manufacturer.
5. Remove Wax Residue
Wax and floor polish build up over time, causing your floors to become more slippery than ever. But you can remove this layer with a couple of options.
You could use a mixture of one part vinegar and two parts water. Mop with the vinegar water and go over the floors with a rinse of water for the best results. Alternatively, purchasing a product designed to remove wax residue from hardwood floors is a safe route.
The Downside to Removing Wax
According to the National Wood Floor Association (NWFA), it’s best to use a cleaner made for your floor’s finish. Using vinegar on some wood floors could void your warranty. Any wood floors with oil-modified urethane, UV-curing, or film-forming finishes like varnish will degrade from the vinegar’s acid.
Select a product ideal for your wood finish for the best results. Avoid using any cleaning products that are not compatible with the material.
The Best Wax Remover for Hardwood
The Zep Heavy-Duty Floor Stripper is a professional formula that completely dissolves and removes polish from hardwood floors. Use Zep to remove any stubborn finishes. It can also tackle any heavy build-up, allowing you to apply a fresh coat of wax to your floors afterward.
To apply the Zep Floor Stipper, you need a scrubbing machine or a cotton mop with a traditional mop bucket and wringer. This product is the option professionals choose to care for many types of hardwood, no matter the finish type. You can dilute the solution with hot water for less stripping power as well.
6. Buy an Anti-Slip Treatment
Anti-slip floor treatments are popular products for people with hardwood flooring. You can apply an anti-slip treatment to many wood types, and they work to boost the protection of the surface. The finish creates traction. Products like this allow you to have shiny, waxed floors without causing too much slip.
Depending on the finish, you might find non-slip coatings you can immediately apply to the existing wood floor. However, most treatments require sanding before application.
There are many non-slip or anti-slip treatment options, from coatings to wood sprays. Aerosol sprays produce a foam that dries into a textured finish, while coatings are often water-based urethane. An epoxy spray could provide more grip for dogs that slip on the floor’s surface if you’re a pet owner.
In addition to traction, using a wood treatment could also boost the chemical and scratch resistance.
The Downside to Anti-Slip Treatments
The downside to anti-floor treatments is that they require elbow grease and plenty of time to apply them. Before you can lay the treatment on your floor, you must sand the wood to its base. The coating also takes between six and 12 hours to dry fully. Others take between three and four days to cure. The floor is not open for walking during the entire dry time.
Applying the treatment also requires you to consider the weather. Wet weather or cold temperatures are often not ideal for applying anti-slip coatings. You could heat or cover the area, but doing so would exponentially raise your project’s cost.
The coating may not have a long lifespan either. You must re-coat the surface every few years.
Another con is that most anti-slip coatings only come in a dark grey shade. If you prefer a different color, you may want to consider other methods.
You’ll also want to make sure you purchase a product that’s made for wood floors. Test the treatment on a tiny area of the wood before applying the treatment to the entire flooring, making sure it won’t alter the appearance of your hardwood.
The Best Anti-Slip Treatments for Hardwood
Bona Traffic Anti-Slip Satin is a water-based solution for hardwood finishes. The advanced formula comes out clear and provides a fine texture finish. It’s the top finish in the industry if you want durability. The application requires a quick two-step process. The product is nearly invisible after application, and it’s resistant to moisture and oil after drying.
This product is particularly perfect if you have pre-finished UV hardwood floors. Its lead and chemical-free design also make it barefoot friendly. You can even use the treatment in commercial areas, as it’s VOC-compliant.
7. Use Non-Skid Paint for Wood
Similar to non-slip coatings and sprays, you can paint wood floors with non-skid paint to add a layer of traction. Non-skid paint for wood comes in many colors. People adore the barefoot-friendly experience of walking on this type of painted wood.
You may also be able to find non-skid paint additives that you can include in any of your favorite paints. Many options are created with boats in mind. So if you’re having trouble finding a non-skid paint in a color you prefer, look for an additive that’s safe for your wood type.
The Downside to a Non-Skid Paint
Like anti-slip coatings, paint requires ventilation. Some brands may need you to open windows or run fans to keep your family from exposure to the harsh fumes. You cannot complete the project in cold or wet weather as well.
The Best Non-Skid Paint for Wood
The Slip Doctors Floor Grip is a clear anti-slip paint for wood. It’s a urethane solution that stops slippery floors. Roll the anti-slip sealer over your paint for a non-slip coating on your floor. The ingredients are safe for dog paws or bare feet. It dries in around 12 to 24 hours.
A fantastic thing about Slip Doctors is that you can apply it to indoor and outdoor wood flooring. You can even use it for various other surfaces, including vinyl, cork, tile, laminate, and more. And if you don’t like the coating, return it for 100% of your money back.
8. Replace Sections with Anti-Slip Floor Panels
A high-quality alternative to adding non-slip coatings or paints to your floors is to try anti-slip floor panels. The panels are created to fit your exact measurements so that you can place them in any room or walkway. These floor panels come in many colors and finishes, unlike coatings.
The fantastic part about panels is that they’re easy to install, no matter the weather. Unlike harsh paints and coatings, installation does not require you to open a window or worry about proper ventilation. The panels fit in place immediately and last for around 30 years, with minimal preparation and upkeep.
The Downside to Anti-Slip Floor Panels
The only downside to using anti-slip floor panels is the cost. Installation is easy enough for beginners, but the panels themselves can be expensive. You may also run into a challenge in finding floor panels available anywhere other than hardware stores.
The Best Anti-Slip Floor Panels
SnapFloors is a modular dance floor kit that you could use in a small, 3 x 3-foot area of your home. The oak pieces interlock, snapping into place. It’s a lightweight and easy to install option if you need a tiny surface space of floor panels.
The wood panels are entirely waterproof and straightforward for beginners to install. You can use it indoors or out, which could help you reduce wet doorways or create a landing to keep your shoes. The flooring is durable and stays in place over time.
9. Sand and Refinish the Hardwood Floor
If none of the above options are suitable for your floor, it may be time to sand and refinish the hardwood. The NWFA says you need to sand and refinish most hardwood floors every few decades. Grime and cleaning agents can build up on the foundation over time. You must remove them and select a new finish for your wooden floors to look like new again.
However, you can only sand and refinish your hardwood floors if you have a solid wood type.
The Downside to Refinishing Hardwood Floors
You might want to hire a flooring professional to sand and refinish your floors. Working with hardwood can be expensive and complicated, especially if you don’t have the equipment, skills, or experience to complete the process by yourself.
The steps you take may also depend on the nature of your flooring. Sanding and refinishing are best for solid wood with a thick surface, such as maple, walnut, or oak. You can refinish solid woods many times without causing damage. On the other hand, engineered wood is a thin layer of plywood substrate that can’t be refinished more than once.
With many opportunities to make your wood floors less slippery, the method you choose may depend on your budget and the amount of elbow grease you’re willing to put into the project. For example, regular cleaning is free and much easier to achieve than refinishing your floors. Select the best option for your home, or try multiple ways to find what works best.
Did our article help you find a fix for your sleek hardwood floors? Let us know in the comments below. Share the article with your following so they can create safer flooring as well.