The dumbest way to accidentally hurt yourself, or die, is to have a gravity-based mishap. Because as a species, we figured out that gravity could kill you way before we got to swordfights, shark attacks and driving Porsches into trees. Some early caveman was climbing a cliff and showing off, he lost his footing and plummeted, and the other cavemen learned a valuable lesson while poking his unmoving body with a stick.
That’s why I don’t bungie jump, skydive or apply for roofing jobs. I prefer to die the American way, which is from heart disease due to poor diet, not some stupid physics-based reason that your eulogist has to write his way around.
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I also don’t want to fall down stairs and injure myself. Here on the farm there are a couple of outdoor wooden staircases that are like a good Bon Jovi album. So I’m looking at design solutions for making them less slippery, of which there are many.
If you’re starting from scratch, using metal is an effective (and expensive) solution. Diamond plate steel like this is a popular choice.
However, perforated aluminum seems to me like it would offer more grip. This design looks incredibly effective, though if you did manage to slip on it, it would probably not make for a comfy landing.
For very muddy applications where drainage is paramount, you can purchase expanded carbon steel sheets like this and cut it to suit.
For retrofitting existing stairs, a metal solution is perforated aluminum sheets like these.
The little raised volcanoes provide grip.
These aluminum strips can also be had in brightly-lit colors for better visibility.
The advantage of going with metal is obvious: Durability. But if it’s not in your budget, less expensive solutions exist. These textured treads are made from fiberglass and have much to recommend them: They’re retrofittable, offer a choice of medium or coarse grit and feature bright yellow on the nosing for visibility.
Those are affixed to the stairs with construction adhesive and a caulking gun. For a far easier installation, you could purchase rubber mats that simply lay on top of the stairs. These are probably fine with rain and snow, but presumably a pain to clean out if mud is involved.
Going even simpler, at the big box home centers you can purchase inexpensive anti-slip tape.
A DIY solution is to mix sand in with paint, and apply that to your (wooden) stairs to provide some texture. You can also purchase rubber or polymeric plastic grits to mix in with the paint.
Lastly, I came across this DIY solution: The unknown person who did this appears to have routed out a channel in their treads, and inlaid a rubber strip.
I am going to have to go with one of these solutions before winter comes, so if you’ve got a tried-and-true method you recommend, please do sound off in the comments!