Wood Floor Safety: How to Avoid Slips, Trips, and Falls

Wood Floor Safety: How to Avoid Slips, Trips, and Falls
  • Opening Intro -

    Having beautiful, glossy hardwood floors can be a joy when you get to admire them or show them off to your guests.

    When it comes to actually living in such a home and using these floors on daily basis, though, a high level of polish can make life tough.

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A mirror finish on your floors usually means extreme slipperiness. Both you and your dog can find it impossible to walk about without some serious risk. Slip-and-fall accidents are not to be taken lightly – in the U.S., they injure or kill close to 20,000 people each year.

What is the solution to this problem?

Getting Some Friction Directly On Your Wooden Floors

Smoothly sanded wood isn’t a slippery material. Repeated coatings of wax and polish are what to make wood dangerously slick. One good way to return some friction to polished hardwood floors is to roughen the surface up a bit. You have a number of ways to achieve this.

Highly polished wooden floors become less slippery over time. When people walk over these floors with their shoes on, the sand particles on the soles of their shoes roughen the polish up. If you can’t wait a few months for this to happen, you can use very fine sandpaper. Even a light application very fine steel wool could be a good idea.

If the idea of deliberately ruining the mirror finish on your floors doesn’t appeal to you, you could try a high quality nonskid treatment, instead. A product like Slip NoMor applied weekly can keep your floors looking natural and yet less slippery.

A mopping water additive like Floorsafe Add-a-Grip is another way to go. When you mop with water that has this liquid added, it leaves a slightly grippy film on your floors. The film doesn’t discolor wood.

If you can’t find a purpose-made product like this, you can choose to simply add magnesium carbonate powder (also called chalk) to your mopping water. Magnesium carbonate powder is a material that rock climbers and power lifters use on their hands. It offers a good bit of grip. About 50 g of magnesium carbonate powder in a litre of water should do the trick. You could call a professional wood floor installing company like Lifewood if you aren’t sure about what kind of product you should use.

If You Don’t Wish to Treat Your Floors

Treating your floors with special additives can be a hassle. It would be a far simpler solution to simply use non-slip doormats and other runners wherever you need.

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What else should you know about hardwood flooring?

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If you don’t mind using products on your wooden floors that look somewhat unattractive, you could consider buying nonskid tape to stick on your floors. Not only does such tape give you the friction you need to stay on your feet, it is usually made to be almost transparent. The adhesive makes the tape adhere very strongly to your wooden floors. The plastic on good quality tape is usually strong enough to make an application very durable.

Janet Holman is a health and safety officer for nursing homes. She enjoys sharing her insights and research online.

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