Outdoor stair treads are a simple and cost-effective way to keep your family and friends safe from any unwanted slips, trips or falls. Staircases are one of the most common places falls occur. Some falls occur due to uneven/broken steps or lack of railings while others are caused by moisture on the step. Staircases that are located outdoors often experience precipitation, harsh sun rays and other elements of nature which contribute to the risk of falling. The installation of an outdoor stair tread on each step will help reduce the risk of falls and help keep you and those you care about safe.
Why Install Outdoor Stair Treads?
Rubber naturally has a high coefficient of friction which allows it to keep its friction and grip even when coming into contact with moisture making it highly recommended for outdoor stair treads. Friction is defined as “a force that resists relative motion between two surfaces in contact” (engineersedge.com). To understand grip, or traction, a great example can be seen in the interaction between vehicle tires and the road. That being said, “tire grip or traction is a concept that describes the grasp and interaction between the tire and the road to avoid vehicle skidding or sliding which is crucial for safety (link.springer.com). In terms of an indoor or outdoor stair tread, grip is extremely important for keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground and, due to rubber’s high coefficient of friction, it is the perfect material for reducing slips. The best way to prevent slipping and falling is by wearing rubber soled shoes for better traction but, unfortunately, most people do not wear rubber soled shoes on a regular basis. Therefore, a rubber outdoor stair tread on each step is the perfect alternative to rubber soled shoes.
1. How to Install Non-Slip Stair Treads
Depending on the rate of foot traffic, environmental conditions, floor surfacing and how permanent you want to install your outdoor stair treads, is how you should choose which installation method is best suited for your situation. Non slip stair treads are versatile enough to be used both indoors and outdoors, thanks to its rubber material. Outdoor stair treads are a cost-efficient and simple option for keeping your stairs safe. Outdoor staircases are significantly more dangerous than indoor staircases because they are located outside and are exposed to the natural elements and other damaging forces. The ease of installation makes this a great DIY (Do-it-yourself) project anyone can do on their own without having to pay an installer. There are three different methods of installing outdoor stair treads: loose laying, double sided tape adhesive and glue. While the installation process is simple and easy, outdoor stair treads cannot, or should not, be adhered to carpeted floors or expensive flooring.
1(a). Cast Iron Stair Treads
Cast iron stair treads are décor and style oriented and are made to focus more on design and aesthetics. There are three ways of securing them: loose laying, double sided tape adhesive and glue. To loose lay cast iron stair treads, simply place the treads on each step and you’re done! Loose laying is possible for cast iron treads because of the thicker rubber material making them heavier than other stair treads. However, if you are using cast iron mats as outdoor stair treads, the mats cannot be glued down. This is a detraction for some, since there is no guarantee for the step mats to be secured at all times. For residential applications which are more influenced by aesthetic, this is generally not a problem. Since staircases outdoors are more likely to become wet, it is important to use an installation method that will help make sure your outdoor stair treads are safe and secure.
1(b). Rubber Outdoor Stair Treads with Nosing
Outdoor stair treads with nosing gives each step a little bit more coverage by draping over the edge of the step. This nosing also allows for a sturdier grip on each step further preventing your foot from slipping off the edge of the step by adding that extra inch or two of traction. The extended nose will allow you to fit the outdoor stair tread snuggly on each step which will allow it to protect the step itself from any damage. Each outdoor stair tread is easy to install and will give you maximum traction on each step. For a temporary installation, simply use double sided tape adhesive. This will allow for easy removal and replacement should the adhesive wear down. If you would like a longer term or more permanent installation, you may also use glue to install your outdoor stair tread. Although both double sided tape and glue are strong adhesives, for outdoor use, it is recommended to use glue rather than tape due to the excessive moisture outdoor stair treads may face outside.
1(c). Commercial Rubber Step Mats
Commercial rubber step mats can be larger than your average outdoor stair tread and are primarily used in commercial areas where there is heavy foot traffic. They are available in two different sizes, 36 inches and 48 inches in length, to fit longer commercial stairs in businesses and restaurants. The best installation method for commercial rubber step mats is to use glue. Since these step mats are most likely going to be used in commercial areas such as businesses or restaurants, it is important to keep them in place to reduce the risk of the mat shifting and causing an accident. Double sided adhesive tape is also an acceptable option for installing commercial step mats; however, this method is recommended to be placed in areas with less foot traffic such as residences. For a more durable installation, glue is the perfect adhesive for those looking for a more permanent fix.
2. How to Install Stair Treads on Different Surfaces
Rubber stair treads can be used on almost all smooth surfaces sometimes without the use of adhesives. However, installing stair treads on carpeted surfaces is highly not recommended because it will damage the carpet. Depending on which surface you choose to install your stair treads, there are a couple different adhesive methods you may use. Double sided tape adhesive will allow you to remove each stair tread easily and without damaging the floor underneath. Glue, on the other hand, is a more permanent installation method. This method is recommended for outdoor stair treads, mats and places that are highly traversed.
2(a). Installing Stair Treads on Hardwood Floors
It is always important to choose the right method of installation to prevent damaging the steps themselves and to prevent treads from shifting underfoot. Hardwood floorings are beautiful and expensive making rubber stair treads a must-have for protecting their surfaces. Since hardwood floors are smooth, it is a good idea to put non-slip stair treads on steps to reduce the risk of slipping and falling. The most recommended method of installing stair treads on hardwood flooring is by using double sided tape adhesive. Unlike glue, double sided tape will provide a secure installation while being gentle enough on your floors as to not damage them during the removal process. Or better yet, you may want to loose-lay a cast-iron step mat on top of wood floors, as these are designed for less invasive installations.
2(b). Installing Stair Treads on Concrete
Concrete steps are usually found outdoors in industrial and commercial areas. This means they are exposed to elemental factors indoor staircases do not have to face and heavy foot traffic. Installing an outdoor stair tread to each step outdoors will greatly reduce the chances of slipping and falling. Due to the environmental factors these stairs are exposed to and its porous nature, it is recommended to use glue to install stair treads on concrete steps. Elements of nature such as rain and snow may affect the integrity of double-sided tape while glue with keep its hold. Also, because concrete is porous, there is less surface area the tape can stick to rendering it obsolete.
2(c). Installing Stair Treads on Metal
Metal staircases will benefit greatly from the addition of rubber stair treads. Metal staircases are commonly found in commercial and industrial settings and, like concrete staircases, often experience high foot traffic. If the metal staircase is located outside, it can become slick when coming into contact with moisture. Outdoor stair treads are the perfect solution in reducing the risk of slips and falls. Metal staircases that are found in high foot traffic areas and areas exposed to moisture should be installed using glue. Glue gives it a more permanent and waterproof application than tape, perfect for outside steps and steps that are traverse frequently.
Staircases, whether indoors or outdoors, are one of the leading places slip and fall accidents occur. Various outside factors can affect the safety of your steps whether it be precipitation, debris or uneven steps. Outdoor stair treads are a simple and extremely durable method of ensuring the safety of your outdoor steps. There are several types of outdoor stair tread with designs available on the market that will give you the option to choose which style suits your needs best. From elegant cast iron stair treads to larger commercial step mats, outdoor stair treads were made specifically with safety in mind.