Do Your Stairs Have a Nose?

nosing.jpgWinter wet weather brings stairway safety issues. Talking with a number of neighbours they let it be known that they had recently fallen having slipped on their outside stairs. If you have wooden stairs at your home – beware.

Take a Tumble

Most wooden stairs become extra slippery with during our rainy season. Addtionally, if your stairs are painted or stained, the problem is compounded. Stair surfaces become slick from the buildup of slime, moss, dirt from tracking up and down, grass bits or leaves making your stairs ready for an accident to happen.

A traditional anti-slip solution is to cut to size and attach asphalt roof shingles. Stapled or nailed to the stair tread. Economical but not particularly attractive, this method provides assured footing. This methodology is not without problems. You may find that the grit from the shingles has stuck to the souls of your shoes. A quick step on your hardwood floors will definitely make you regret having used this solution. To add insult, in the summer heat the potential to suffer a similar fate exists when the tar seeps out of the shingles attaching to your souls and creates a cleaning nightmare.

A recent product addition to the renovation market are decorative rubber matts. They are attractive and durable. However, during our colder periods these benefits are lacking with false security as they harden and become a mini skating rink.


A Solution

There is a solution. Stair nosing. It is “L” shaped to fit on the stair tread and very durable as it is made from aluminum or a derivative. Stair nosing offers a grip surface near the edge of the stair tread where footing is most compromised. It comes in a selection of colors – a bronze, titanium color or standard aluminum silver. Unfortunately, neither of these match up with most of today’s exterior home colors. A simple way of making this product more attractive is to pre-paint it with Tremclad paint (see thumbnail).

Nose grip is attached to the stair tread by screws. Tools for installation are very simple and easy. A measuring tape, a screw driver and a hack saw to cut the nosing to match the length of your stair tread. Stainless steel screws will make this a one time job. You can use a small artist brush to dab on a bit of paint to the screws afterward in order to achieve a cohesive look. Once installed you will rest easy knowing you, your family and guests will be able to traverse your stairs safely.

An added bonus -your Postie will love you for it.

About Larry Yatkowsky

Larry is a recognized real estate expert. A veteran professional, his experienced counsel leads Vancouverites in his west side community to place their trust in a man passionate about his work. Uncompromising ethics bring a balanced approach to realizing your real estate dreams.

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*Disclaimer: Statistics Courtesy REBGV. While believed to be accurate they are not guaranteed.
**Numbers provided may vary as they are dynamically posted by the REBGV.

Reader Comments:

November 25th, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Thanks for the solution. I still don’t trust myself enough to take the project on alone, though.

Ali Bani-Sadr Says:
November 30th, 2008 at 4:40 pm

I found your thread while searching. Can you please be kind and tell who in the Lower Mainland carries/sells the “stair bullnose”. Thank you.

November 30th, 2008 at 8:55 pm

For wooden stairs they are available at home depot, revy and other places.
Concrete stairs may require a different style and method of application.

abee Says:
February 2nd, 2009 at 12:24 pm

I have a question???
– What type of stair nosing should be used for stairs (interior) ??? I mean the laminate or wood nosing
– Overlap or flush??
– & what is the difference??
– and what is the bylaw? in Burnaby,and graeter vancouver??
Thank you..

February 2nd, 2009 at 4:45 pm


The answers to your questions re laminate, wood, overlap and flush will depend on your personal taste, and materials used on the stair tread. Take a sample of the material to your local supplier or check it out at places like Revy or Home Depot.

Some of them will make for good “toe stubbers” and may not give you the security from slipping you hope for. Choose wisely.

Re: bylaws. I can’t comment. To my knowledge there are none that relate directly to stair nosing. A quick call to your respective city hall will get you the authoritative answer.

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