Maybe a big rubber mat…

A week ago, after that big rainy Saturday morning, I took another fall right on these wet boards. That boardwalk has been slick before but never dumped me; maybe it’s that I’m walking with the grain now rather than against it? I don’t know – maybe that’s silly. But Saturday after the rain it was slick as snot and my meat foot went out from under me in what has become the classic style.

I was uninjured. This time. But all the way down I thought about the nearly two years I’ve been recovering from my last bad fall. Still not 100% and don’t ever expect to be but I’m mostly recovered. Don’t want a replay.

I was planning to replace the traction tape I use on the top step anyway, because it’s getting ragged. But that stuff isn’t very durable and costs $2.50/foot locally. For the larger boardwalk I need a better solution.

Also the obligatory yes, yes, I know I need a handrail. 🙂

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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25 Responses to Maybe a big rubber mat…

  1. Ben says:

    Do you have any more of that hardware cloth? That and some fence staples would do the job forever.

  2. bmq215 says:

    The hardware cloth is a pretty good idea.

    I refinished the deck of a work pontoon boat a couple years ago and took care of the nonskid issue by tossing a couple handfuls of sand into some marine-grade paint. It’s held up pretty well and stays grippy even when it’s absolutely pouring. Not so good once ice starts forming but I think that’s true of most solutions.

  3. Joel says:

    Do you have any more of that hardware cloth? That and some fence staples would do the job forever.


  4. Mike says:

    Plus one on the sand idea. My go to fix on slippery surfaces is a good coat of paint and, while it’s still wet, sprinkle coarse sand on the surface. Let it dry then put another coat of paint over the top. The fix will last as long as the paint does.

  5. Phssthpok says:

    +1 for the ‘sand-in-paint’ trick.

    Works a treat for putting gription on your hammers too! (I use spay paint and grinder-dust instead of sand, but…same concept)

  6. Sevesteen says:

    Local nature preserves use hardware cloth or chicken wire. Seems to work well there, I’ve been meaning to use that to the ramp for my shed.

  7. Zelda says:

    Yes, yes, yes, yes you do need a handrail, in fact two handrails, with multiple rails so that if you fall you have something to grab at on the way down and something to help you get up, not just a top rail. And tall enough so your upper body can fall against it. A ramp with boards crosswise and a non-skid surface would be safer than the steps and boardwalk. It doesn’t take that long to put a ramp together and attach it (yes I have) unless you have to build in a safe landing in order to avoid an obstacle or make a grade lower. And I also must build a handrail on one side of one of my ramps because that ramp was covered with ice which I didn’t notice until I went down with one leg twisted under me. Very uncomfortable. I have full width mats now but if you use them be sure to staple or nail them down so they don’t shift. You know falls are the primary cause of death and disability in the – forgive me – elderly. LOL

  8. FDD says:

    small amount of paint, color of your choice, mix sand into it at about 4 parts paint to one part sand.,
    paint all of the porch, stars and walkways

  9. Judy says:

    I like the hardware cloth idea because while the sand-in-the-paint idea looks nice and works well, that is, until ice season. Then while you are chipping snow and ice off your boardwalk you are also taking off the sandy paint. Or at least that has been my experience. But thinking about it, how do you get the ice out of the hardware cloth without damaging it, also?

    And yes, at least one handrail going from the top of the porch to the end of the boardwalk would be very helpful. I will add, that back porch looks like an accident-waiting-to-happen to me. But maybe you have figured out how to use it and have 3 points of firm contact with each step that I don’t see.

    None of us are getting any younger and we don’t bounce as well as we use to, so we have to live smarter.

  10. terrapod says:


    The paint with sand is a good stopgap but won’t last that long. I would say to do that ASAP (and put in the handrail everyone is berating you about).

    Let me take a look at my BIL’s surplus warehouse, I think there are some industrial no-slip rubber thingies there that might do the job on a near eternal basis.

  11. terrapod says:

    Also, metal hardware cloth or chicken wire act as graters when you slip on them and they get slick with rain and ice too, go with sand or industrial carpeting of some sort.

  12. Kentucky says:

    What the heck . . . while we’re suggesting . . .

    I still believe the stairs and approach boards should be moved away from the side of the structure to the “front” edge of the porch. This will allow you to use the corner roof support as the solid upper anchor point for a handrail as well as moving the stairs further away from the heater exhaust.

    Just a thought.

  13. Joel says:

    Kentucky, that heater exhaust is insignificant. It’s one of the first things I checked last fall. It’s a very clever design,really – two concentric tubes, the inner of maybe half the circumference of the outer, allowing the intake to surround the exhaust and prevent the wall or the vent cap from heating up substantially.

    As for the other possibly excellent reasons for moving the stairs to the front, I’m not really following them but anyway I don’t want to. 🙂

  14. Ben C says:

    You can get smaller “touch up” cans of spray on bedliner material. This stuff is pretty grippy and holds up better than sand and paint to chipping ice.

    Probably not as cheap or long term durable as hardware cloth and staples, but less chance of a broken wire bending up and stabbing a dog foot too.

    Oh yeah, railing etc… heh

  15. Howard says:

    I would suggest tacking lath or strips of thin plywood every six inches crossways. Snow and ice removal should be easier than with hardware cloth. A bag of ice melt for when ice does form and a stiff broom to sweep off snow off before it melts! Also you could put a roof over the whole thing so it stays dry!

  16. B says:

    Since you don’t like the sand/paint idea, then think indoor/Outdoor carpeting.

    If it ices up, just pull it up and drape it over the rail and let it melt.

    But I gotta tell ya the sand and paint thing works well, even if there is ice and snow. And it is easy to recoat yearly or when needed.

  17. doubletrouble says:

    We have a very short ramp off the back porch. I used some oddball shingles I had kicking around to make it grippy. I use wood ash on it when it ices up in the winter- for melting & added grip.

  18. Mark Matis says:

    Or at least set up the game camera where it will have a good view for the next event. Might as well get something worthy of putting on YouTube out of it…

  19. Ed says:

    Try a horse mat. Horse mats last forever (since they are designed for 1000# critters in steel shoes) and are non-skid, washable, and removable if needed. You can often find them on Craigslist.

  20. terrapod says:

    Before spending any big $$$ wait a few days, I will send you non-skid applique material from the old AM General MV1 mobility vehicle ramp, BIL has a batch of them surplus. You should be able to glue those down on the steps, the landing and the skidway at the bottom.

  21. Goober says:

    What about some leftover paint, broadcast sand, paint over the sand a couple of coats?

  22. Joel says:

    You know, a lot of people have suggested that. Some even report having done it themselves with success. But every time I think of it I just remember one of my most memorable tailbone-bruising pratfalls, way way back when I was a dealership wrench and the manager insisted on painting the floor, and ‘don’t worry about it there’s grit in the paint’…

    As it is Terrapod is sending something that might put the problem behind me. If it doesn’t work I’ll probably go back to grit in paint.

  23. I liked the idea of the asphalt roofing material with the large grit on it – by shingle or the roll. I assume most materials will wear out so the ease of replacement and low cost are attractive. Helps that I still have 20-30′ of it rolled up in the shed that I haven’t needed for several years. I’ve some metal steps around here that use up several feet of wide traction tape every few years. Next time it comes up I’d gonna’ put that roofing material to use with some contact cement. (assuming that the asphalt and contact cement will adhere…)

    Come to think of it – with the asphalt base – it wouldn’t be too hard to re-grit it with the help of a propane torch!

To the stake with the heretic!