A slippery floor is a major safety hazard. It significantly increases the risk of slip and fall accidents, often resulting in broken bones and, sometimes, fatalities. The risk is highest on hardwood floors with an oil finish.
Fortunately, it’s possible to reduce the slickness of your hardwood floors. Read on to discover how to make wood floors less slippery.
How to Make Wood Floors Less Slippery
- Clean your floors frequently.
- Wipe spills immediately
- Use appropriate cleaning products
- Apply non-slip spray
- Try an area rug
- Use door mats
- Add non-slip pads to rugs
- Apply polish coating
- Sanding and refinishing
- Remove wax residue
- Use anti-slip treatments
- Use non-skid paint for wood floors
- Replace with anti-slip floor panels
Why is Your Wood Floor Slippery?
Bare hardwood floors aren’t naturally slippery. Unfortunately, the floors can become slick if you finish them with a coat of wax or polish. Additionally, hardwood floors can become slippery if the floor is dirty or wet due to liquid spills.
The following are common conditions that may make your hardwood floor slippery.
- Moisture: The most common cause of slippery floors is condensed moisture. Wetness surface reduces traction, increasing the risk of slipping.
- Dust/dirt: Dirt and dirt particles reduce the contact between your feet or shoe sole and the floor, reducing stability and increasing the risk of slipping. Slippery residue, such as oil drinks, are the worst slip agents.
- Grease and oil: Greasy and oily surfaces are highly slippery because the particles in these substances have more friction with each other than surrounding objects. This causes grease and oil to move along with substances that touch them.
- Salt: Salt increases floor slipperiness in two ways. First, hard salt particles reduce surface grip. Secondly, salty water is a natural lubricant that works almost like grease.
- Soap residue: Soap is slippery because it contains fatty acids. Fatty acids are surfactants that naturally lower surface tension or interfacial tension/traction between agents. That’s why soap dislodges dirt from fabric and floors.
- Others: Other causes of slippery floors are poor cleaning methods, using the wrong cleaning products, overtreated dust mops, and soiled tools.
Dangers of Slippery Wood Floors
Slippery wood floors increase the risk of slip and fall accidents. Unfortunately, these accidents happen way too often.
According to a recent OSHA report, the US alone had over 230,000 slip and fall accidents in 2019. Many of the falls are due to slippery floors.
13 Ways to Make Wood Floors Less Slippery
The following are thirteen practical ways to make your floors less slippery. You can implement most of the tips right away. However, a few may require visiting the local hardware store.
1: Clean your floors frequently
Regular cleaning is the most basic way to make wooden floors less slippery. However, you must clean the floors the right way. Consider deep cleaning with a vinegar solution. Here’s how;
- Broom and dustpan
- White vinegar
- Mop and bucket
How to Clean Slippery Wood Floors
- Sweep the loose dirt and debris: Use a broom to sweep the area and the dustpan to collect and dispose of the dirt.
- Create a cleaning solution: Mix one part white vinegar with two parts water to form an anti-slip cleaning solution. Mix it thoroughly and allow it to settle for a minute.
- Mop the floor thoroughly: We recommend a microfiber mop as it picks up more dirt particles than standard mops. Dip it in the vinegar solution and wring it until there’s no dripping water. Then gently mop the surface in a circular motion starting from the back of the room.
- Allow to dry: Using wet floors is a big safety hazard. Luckily, the white vinegar solution evaporates quickly. So, you may only need to wait 5-10 minutes for the floor to dry.
2: Wipe spills immediately
Spills are inevitable. Unfortunately, letting spills sit on your hardwood floor for an extended period can cause several issues, including increasing the risk of slipping and falling.
So, you want to clean the floors the right way. Otherwise, you may fail to remove the spilled liquid completely. The following are a few guidelines to follow;
For lacquered floors
- Wipe the excess spilled liquid with a dry cloth or towel.
- Spray the surface with a wood floor cleaner like the Bona Complete Cleaning System.
- Clean the spill stain with a microfiber cleaning mop
For oiled wooden floors
- Wipe the excess liquid with a dry cloth.
- Spray the surface with an oil floor cleaner, such as the Bona Professional Series Natural Oil Hardwood Floor Cleaner.
- Clean the stain with a microfiber cleaning pad and allow the floor to dry.
3: Use appropriate cleaning products
Unfortunately, your slippery floor could be due to using the wrong cleaning products. So, you must choose your cleaning products carefully.
The primary factor to consider is whether your wooden floor is surface sealed or not. Surface-sealed floors are finished with and protected by a hard urethane, polyurethane, or polyacrylic coat, making them resistant to stains and water damage.
On the other hand, unsealed floors are finished with a penetrating seal, oil-treated, shellacked, lacquered, varnished, or left bare.
The best cleaner for sealed floors is an anti-slip cleaner. Avoid soapy water as it makes such floors more slippery. Vinegar is a good alternative if you desire a homemade cleaning product. However, beware that it can dull the finish over time.
Meanwhile, use an oil-based soap, such as Murphy Oil Soap Wood Cleaner, for oil-finished floors. It leaves a shiny floor without making the surface slippery.
4: Apply non-slip spray (anti-slip products)
Non-slip wooden floor sprays are typically epoxy aerosol sprays that form a clear, hard, finely textured surface over wooden surfaces to increase traction between shoes or bare feet and the floor.
Most anti-slip products are invisible and therefore don’t change the aesthetics of your home. They are also barefoot-friendly and paw-friendly. The following are two excellent products to consider;
The Rust-Oleum Anti Slip Spray is an oil-based formula that offers safe traction on various surfaces, from concrete to ceramic and wooden floors and decks. It dries to the touch in 30 minutes, creating a low-luster, clear flat/matte, slip-resistant covering. A 12-ounce spray can cover 150 square feet.
The Slip-Doctors’ anti-slip floor spray is easy to use and dries quickly, forming an extra fine, clear coating over your floors to prevent slips and falls. It’s a versatile product that works on vinyl, solid wood, laminate, and linoleum. A can covers 20 square feet.
5: Try an area rug to cover slippery areas
Many people don’t like to carpet wooden floors. It beats the logic of installing beautiful hardwood floors.
However, since you cannot completely ignore the risk of slipping and falling, a good compromise is to have area rugs in slippery areas for greater safety.
The good news is that choosing an area rug is easy. The most important thing is to choose one that complements your room and enhances the decor. Additionally, consider the following;
- Size: Pick a rug that covers the entire slippery area without looking too big or small for the room. Leave the wall perimeter bare, though. No one walks there anyway.
- Find a non-skid rug: The best hardwood flooring area rugs are designed to “stick” to the floor for greater safety.
- Place them correctly: You don’t need to cover every inch of the floor in every room. Instead, use the rugs primarily in high-traffic areas.
6: Use Door Mats
Yes, door mats are another solution to slippery wood floors. A traditional door mat at each end of the entrance significantly reduces the amount of debris and dirt entering the house, reducing the risk of slipping and falling.
Ideally, you want a non-skid mat. These mats have a rubberized back that “grasps” onto the floor, reducing the risk of slipping. Alternatively, consider anti-slip mat pads (more on this shortly).
One of the best products to consider is the Gorilla Grip All-Season Weather-Max Natural Rubber Door Mat from the Gorilla Grip Store. It’s a high-quality woven polypropylene mat with 100% natural rubber borders and backing.
Additionally, the mat absorbs dirt, mud, and moisture via the slightly raised patterned grooves. The best part is that this mat is extremely versatile.
Besides the doorways, you can use them in living spaces, the lobby, the garage, and even patios. In addition, it’s available in over 20 colors to suit any decor.
7: Add non-slip pads to rugs
Anti-slip rug pads keep rugs safely in one place and prevent bunching. They also provide additional softness under your feet, which helps if your rugs are a little lightweight.
Better still, the pads prolong the life of your rug while protecting your floors from wear and tear. Some pads even soak up noise.
However, you must choose the right rug pads. So, let’s answer a few common questions about non-slip rug pads.
- Do you need non-slip pads for all rugs? No. You only need anti-slip pads for rugs lacking an anti-slip backing.
- How do anti-slip rug pads work? The pads are made from natural rubber, latex, or PVC, which grips onto your rug and prevents the rug from skidding on the floor.
- Must the pad be the same size as the rug? No, the rug pad should be slightly smaller than the rug, ideally 3-5 cm smaller, as you don’t want the pad peeking from underneath the rug.
8: Apply a polish coating
Unfortunately, wooden floors can become slippery even if you clean them regularly with proper cleaning products. This often happens as a natural result of wear. Tough cleaning products can accelerate this process.
Polishing is an easy way to tackle this problem. Begin by finding a good polish. A non-slip wood spray would be ideal. It provides traction that prevents slipping. Alternatively, use regular wood polish.
When ready, use a flat surface mop to rub the polish into the floor. Here’s how to proceed;
- Wood polish
How to Polish Wooden Floor: Step by Step
- Pour a small portion of wood polish on the floor. You can pour it directly from the original container. Alternatively, pour some in your hand and then on the surface (don’t forget your protective gloves).
- Begin rubbing back and forth, working parallel to the grain. Start with small amounts of polish, then add more as you go on. Thinner layers dry quickly, allowing you to apply subsequent coats.
- Apply the second layer and wait to dry.
When done, wait at least 24 hours before returning the furniture to the room. Do not sand the final layer.
9: Sanding and refinishing
Besides polishing your floors with a wax polish, you can also sand out the slippery loose surface layer and refinish the floor to make it less slippery. It’s a long process. However, it gives better, longer-lasting results.
The first step is to find the appropriate wood finish. The Weiman Wood Floor Polish and Restorer is a good choice. It restores the wood’s natural shine, removes scratches, and gives the floor a protective coat while providing an anti-slip coating.
From there, you can begin refinishing the floor or hire a professional for the job. Here’s how to proceed if you decide to do it yourself.
- Polyurethane sealer
- Hardwood floor stain (optional)
- Applicator pads and foam roller
How to Refinish Hardwood Floors: Step by Step
- Prep the room. This step includes removing all furniture from the area and opening the windows.
- Thoroughly sand your slippery hardwood floors with 80 to 120 grit sandpaper to remove built-up wax, debris, and polishes. Then wipe off the dust.
- Stain the floor (optional) and let it dry for at least 24 hours.
- Apply the sealer and wait 72 hours before returning the furniture.
10: Remove wax residue
While a wax finish provides valuable surface protection, it’s expensive and high-maintenance as it requires regular reapplication. Moreover, the old wax buildup can make floors unappealing and slippery when wet. It also makes refinishing difficult.
If you believe that the wax finishing is the main reason your hardwood floor is slippery, you can remove the finish and apply a thin sealer (see how to apply a floor sealer above). The good news is that removing an old wax finish is not too hard.
- A mop and soft bristle broom
- Mineral Spirit
- Rags/old cloth pieces
How to Remove Old Wax from a Solid Hardwood Floor: Step-By-Step
- Sweep away loose dirt and dust from the floor and mop the surface to remove debris and caked-in elements.
- Pour some mineral spirit onto a small section of the floor. We recommend removing all the wax in one area before moving to the next.
- Fold the rag and begin rubbing the mineral spirit into the waxed floor in circular motions.
- When you’re done, wipe the floor with a dry towel and move to the next section until you’ve finished the whole floor.
11: Use anti-slip treatments/coatings
We’ve already seen how anti-slip sprays work. Another solution that resembles an anti-slip treatment is a non-slip coating.
Non-slip coatings are typically water-based urethane formulas that sit on the floor surface to provide more traction.
An excellent example is the Bona Traffic Anti-Slip Satin. This water-based product is a clear finish that provides a fine-textured, non-skid surface.
Moreover, it’s easy to apply and provides a durable, almost invisible coating. It’s also resistant to oil and moisture once fully dried.
The only downside is that these products only come in a light grey shade. So, you must consider other remedies if you desire a different color.
Here’s how to apply an anti-slip floor coating;
- Non-slip coating
How to apply non-slip coating: Step by step
- Thoroughly clean the floor to eliminate dirt, dust, and debris.
- Sand the entire surface using 80-120 grit sandpaper. Always start with the coarser grits.
- Wipe the floor with a dry rag to remove the sanding dust
- Apply the coating and let it cure for 6-12 hours.
- Wait 3-4 days before you resume using the floor.
12: Use non-skid paint for wood floors
Non-skid is another solution for good paint for wood floors if you want to replace a slippery lacquer and wax finish. The main advantage here is that hardwood floor paints come in many colors. Moreover, the paints are barefoot-friendly.
Alternatively, you can add non-skid paint additives to traditional paint. However, you may want to speak to the brand’s customer support first, as some additives can make the paint less sticky on certain wood surfaces.
One of the best non-slip hardwood floor paints is Floor Grip from Slip Doctors. It’s a clear, urethane-based wood paint that dries within 12 to 24 hours, giving your floor added traction for greater safety. Also, the ingredients are pet friendly.
Here’s how to apply non-skid paint on a hardwood floor.
- Non-slip paint
- Paint roller
- Dry rags
How to apply non-skid paint on slippery hardwood floors: Step by Step
- Clean the area by sweeping thoroughly. You may even want to mop to remove caked-on dirt.
- Aggressively sand the surface to remove old finishes. Sanding also creates a smooth surface for maximum paint adhesion.
- Mix the paint with the non-slip additives (or aggregates) if necessary.
- Begin painting, working from the furthest end of the room towards the door.
- Allow the paint to dry for 12 hours before applying the second coat.
- Let it dry completely for 24-48 hours before returning the furniture.
13: Replace with anti-slip floor panels
Wood flooring products are not the same. Although many are slip-resistant, some are fairly slippery. It depends on the type of wood and how the wood is prepped before use. For instance, oily woods are inherently slippery.
To this end, a more permanent solution to slippery wood floors is to replace the hardwood panels altogether. Depending on your needs, you can replace only a few (the notoriously slippery ones) or replace the entire floor.
The good news is that you can readily find replacement flooring panels from the big stores. Better still, many anti-slip panels are customized to fit standard floor sections.
So, for instance, you can purchase a 4×4-foot panel or a 3×3-foot panel. One of the best products we’ve come across recently is the Modular Dance Floor Kit.
The 3×3-foot panel comprises interlocking oak pieces that easily snap onto a regular hardwood floor. Moreover, it’s waterproof and can last 30 years with good maintenance.
And speaking of slip resistance, if you’re curious about whether composite decking becomes slippery when wet, be sure to check out our article on this topic for further insights.
How do I get rid of slick spots on hardwood floors?
The easiest way to remove slick spots from hardwood floors is to mop the area with a solution of one part white vinegar and two parts water. It removes old wax residue and cleaning products that may cause slick floors.
What can I put on my hardwood floors to make them less slippery?
The most practical way to make hardwood floors less slippery is to clean them with a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water. Additionally, place area rugs in high-traffic areas and use doormats. Finally, consider adding non-slip pads under the rugs for better results.
Does vinegar make floors slippery?
No, vinegar doesn’t make floors slippery. On the contrary, it makes hardwood floors less slippery by breaking down wax and grease bonds. Mix one part white vinegar with two parts water and use the solution to mop the affected area in a circular motion. Then allow it to dry.
How can I make my hardwood floors shine but not be slippery?
Cleaning with a vinegar solution is arguably the only way to make your hardwood floor shiny but not slippery. First, vinegar is a natural polish widely used to finish wooden surfaces. Simultaneously, vinegar’s slight acidity makes it one of the most effective cleaning agents. It breaks down dirt and grime with ease.
How to stop bed from sliding on wood floor
To stop the bed from sliding on the wooden floor, you can:
- Position the bed in a corner of the room
- Use furniture pads or carpet under the bed legs
- Place a non-slip mat under the bed
- Tighten the bolts on the bed frame
- Use double-sided tape or Velcro strips on the bottom of the bed frame
Slippery hardwood floors are a major safety hazard due to the high risk of slip and fall accidents. Luckily, there are many ways to make wooden floors less slippery. For instance, a regular cleanup with the correct products leaves floors shiny but less slippery.
Now that you know how to make wood floors less slippery, do you know how to make wood stairs less slippery?
Painting, polishing, and refinishing are other ways to reduce the slipperiness of wooden floors. Or you can add mats and area rugs to the slippery areas. You have endless options.