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How to Enhance Stair Safety and Rainproof Your Stairs

Recently, a friend shared her concerns about a spider-infested back porch. With Seattle’s first significant rainfall in months and an abundance of misty days on the horizon, she faced another issue—slippery steps. She mentioned her parents had tried using strips of non-skid tape, which not only looked unappealing but also started peeling up and looking unsightly after just a month of rain. Naturally, she sought an alternative solution.

Enter the GacoDeck Kit from Gaco Western, known for its exceptional non-skid, waterproof coating designed for balconies and rooftops. While considering the GacoDeck system, we honed in on a specific component—the GacoGrip granules, available separately. GacoGrip consists of finely ground walnut shells, offering an ideal non-skid surface solution. Unlike beach sand, walnut shells won’t rub off or damage paints or finishes, making them ideal for rainproofing stairs.

Since my friend didn’t want to paint over the natural wood on her porch, I devised a GacoDeck-inspired idea: blending walnut shells into a polyurethane finish. While it might not match the durability of GacoDeck, it’s a worthwhile trade-off for enhanced traction and aesthetics, even if porch refinishing becomes a seasonal task.

For these stairs, we aimed for a simple, relatively quick solution.

Step 1: Prepare the Stairs

Start with a clean, dry surface. If the stairs have been recently stained, as in this case with Penofin Verde wood stain, sweep off loose debris and wipe down each step before proceeding.

Step 2: Create the Walnut Polyurethane Solution

Once the deck is clean, prepare your walnut polyurethane solution.

The ratio of walnut shells to finish is 1:10. Combine one ounce of walnut shells with 10 ounces of Daly’s SeaFin AquaSpar waterborne polyurethane in a mixing container. Daly’s SeaFin AquaSpar, designed for marine use, is an exterior polyurethane known for durability and water resistance.

Stir the mixture with a stir stick, ensuring frequent stirring throughout the application.

Step 3: Apply the Solution

Using a clean synthetic brush, apply the walnut polyurethane solution. Continuously stir the mixture during application, as walnut shells tend to settle at the bottom of the polyurethane.

For best results, follow the application instructions on the polyurethane container, taking care not to over-brush.

Step 4: Allow Drying and Reapply

Let the finish dry for four hours before applying another coat. For subsequent coats (Daly’s recommends a minimum of three), decide whether you want to add more walnut shells or simply apply the polyurethane finish over the existing walnut shells.

In this project, one coat with walnut shells was followed by additional applications with only the polyurethane finish.

Step 5: Allow Full Drying Before Use

Ensure the finish is entirely dry before walking on the stairs. Reapply seasonally or as needed.

This solution offers an effective yet subtle approach to enhancing stair safety. Covering the entire stair surface, it provides more traction than a single strip of tape. Notably, improved traction has been confirmed by my friend’s house guests, who have commented on the enhanced tread. Hopefully, you’ll experience the same positive results!

Original Article: How To Rainproof Stairs

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