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Step Repair: Fix Slippery Stairs

Updated: Jun. 12, 2019

The key to adhesion is sealing the substrate

FH09OCT_SLISTE_01-2Family Handyman
Slippery steps can be made safe with traction tape, but the steps themselves must first be sealed well to prevent water from getting under the tape and breaking the adhesive bond.

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Prepare the steps for traction tape

Traction tape

Traction tape sticks ferociously, but only to a well-sealed surface.

Photo 1: Apply masking tape

Cover the steps with masking tape. Then hold down the traction tape (with the paper liner still on) while you cut around the edges with a utility knife.

Photo 2: Prime

Remove the tape in the cutout area and apply the primer or contact adhesive with a brush. Let it dry before applying the tape.

Photo 3: Lay the tape

Peel the paper liner off one end and secure the tape to the step. Then position the opposite side and square it up. Pull the liner off at a 90-degree angle to the tape, smoothing the tape as you peel.

Traction tape is a quick and easy solution for slippery steps, whether they’re wood or concrete, but you have to seal the pores so the adhesive will hold. Sealing the pores prevents water from getting under the tape and breaking the adhesive bond.

If the steps are painted and the paint is in good shape, just clean it well and apply the tape. If the paint is chipped or peeling or you have raw wood or concrete, clean the surface with lacquer thinner. Then seal it with the recommended primer or contact adhesive, let it dry and apply the tape.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Paintbrush
  • Utility knife

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Contact cement or primer
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Painter's tape
  • Traction tape