Having a multi-story home is amazing. You’ve got tons of storage space, plenty of room to host if you’ve got guests over and a façade that’s to die for. Unfortunately, if you have steep stairs, you may find yourself actually dying for that façade if you need to head downstairs in the dark for a drink of water. If the stairs in your dream home are treacherous, what can you do to make them safer for you, your family and your pets?
Grip isn’t a huge problem on carpeted stairs, but wood or stone stairs can get slippery when wet, so adding traction is a must. For rough-surface stairs, you can easily add some rubber mats to each step to ensure a no-slip surface.
For wood stairs or those that have a smooth finish, get a little creative — those sticky treads you use in the shower can add a bit of traction to your steps and a bit of color to your stairwell at the same time.
If your stairwell doesn’t already have handrails, installing them is a good way to make the stairs a little safer without having to remodel the stairwell completely. Pick some snazzy-looking rails that add to the look of your home, and make sure they’re secured to wall studs so they’ll stay in place if you have to catch yourself on the way down.
Your stairwell probably already has overhead lighting, but if you’re heading downstairs at night when everyone else is asleep, you really don’t want to turn on all the lights just to get down the stairs safely. Recessed lighting, installed directly into each step, is a great alternative because it makes it easier to see where you’re putting your feet, but it doesn’t need to be much brighter than a nightlight.
This lighting doesn’t just make the stairs safer for the human inhabitants of your home — it makes it safer for dogs and cats, too.
This isn’t a good safety measure for homes with kids or daredevils — because you know they will roller skate or slide down the stairs the first chance they get. However, for homes with pets, installing a carpeted ramp on one side of your stairs can make it easier for your pets to get up and downstairs without injury.
Ramps often work better for shorter stairs, but depending on your pet, they can work well for interior stairs as well. Just make sure you plan your ramps in such a way that you’re not accidentally going to step on them and take a tumble. Making your stairs safe for your pets is great, but don’t do it if you’re making them unsafe for you.
If you own your home and have the means, remodeling your stairs can be one way to make them a little safer. Find a contractor who uses the 7-11 rule. This rule states the risers on any given set of stairs are no higher than seven inches, and the stepping surface is at least 11 inches deep. Make sure your city or state’s local building codes allow for this kind of staircase — it is one of the safer designs, but it’s always important to check local building codes first.
If all else fails, you could always try moving to a single-story house that has no stairs. That isn’t the best option — frankly, none of us would want to give up our two-story homes just because of some narrow or steep stairs — but if you are concerned about safety and there’s nothing else you can do to make the stairs safer for those living in the house, moving becomes the final option.
We love our stairs. They add a certain sophistication to our homes, plus you can’t go wrong with all the extra rooms and closet space upstairs. Take plenty of steps to make sure your stairs are safe, though. No house, no matter how beautiful, is worth taking a tumble down the stairs in the middle of the night. If you’ve got kids or pets — especially elderly pets — safe stairs are a must.