Quick Tip: Mix Sand with Paint for Non-Slip Surfaces
Prevent slips by finishing potentially dangerous outdoor living surfaces with a gritty, traction-lending mixture of paint and sand. Here's how.
Slippery when wet: Those words of caution may be most familiar in the context of hospital and airport floors, but they also apply to porch stairs and backyard decking. So the next time you undertake a painting project outdoors, add traction with an extra ingredient—sand. Though special non-slip paint formulas are available on the shelves of your local home center or hardware store, you can save a little money and achieve the same result with the following DIY approach.
Begin by scraping away any cracked, flaking, or peeling paint from the area that you’re refinishing. Next, sand the area by hand, or if you want to make quicker work of things, opt for a power sander. Continue sanding until there’s a roughed-up surface to which the paint can adhere properly. Before moving on to the next step, be sure to clean the surface thoroughly, leaving plenty of time for the area to dry out completely.
Now comes the part that may be unfamiliar. Pour some paint into a paint tray, then toss in a small handful of clean white sand. Aim for a ratio of four parts paint for every one part sand. Stir well—and keep stirring each and every time you load fresh paint onto the tool you have chosen for the work, be it a brush or a roller.
Once you’ve finished applying the initial coat of paint, allow plenty of time for it to cure. Temperature and humidity are factors that may influence the amount of drying time necessary, but all things considered, the process ought to take no longer than 24 hours (though it may take considerably less time than that).
Complete the job with a second, sand-less coat of paint. To a degree, the second coat is going to hide the sand, but you are still likely to notice it, especially with time and once the surface has undergone some wear.
If you’re painting a highly visible area and have concerns with how the sand looks, choose clear plastic grit instead. Whereas sand grains can look like dark specks, clear plastic does remain relatively unnoticeable.
Another option is to glue down rows of coarse, non-slip strips (like those used to provide traction in the bathtub). While these strips lose their grit in time, so too does the mixture of paint and sand. If you live somewhere with harsh winters, expect to reapply your treatment, whatever it is, every two or three years.