Most people associate arthritis with hands, but knees, backs, and legs can all suffer from arthritis, as well. An area of the home that is particularly hard on aching joints is a staircase. Most homes include a set of stairs in one room or another. Most homes are multi-level living, and even ranch homes tend to have basement steps, or even that one or two steps down into a garage.
For those with bodily arthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis, I always recommend they install stair treads for uncarpeted staircases. Properly installed stair treads make sure the steps are stable and secure for older adults as they ascend or descend each set of stairs. Slipping–even without falling–can cause tremendous pain for those with arthritis, whether it’s a slipping tread or a slick stair.
Stair Treads for Aging-in-Place
Most non-slip stair treads come with an adhesive backing to secure each tread to the wooden stair. My recommendation is to purchase carpet-grade double-sided adhesive tape to prevent curled edges and to add extra grip. This double-sided carpet grade tape is specifically made to adhere to wood surfaces like your stairs.
Because stairs are so dangerous and stair treads are so important to an older adult’s comfort and safety, I’ve compiled this list of eight non-slip stair treads that are easy on your knees and your eyes!
TreadSafe Carpet Stair Treads are made of high-quality wool, which makes these treads comfortable and strong. The generous 30” width will provide great coverage for most sets of stairs. As the creator of the first non-residue reusable adhesive, these treads can be removed for a full cleaning, and they are washing-machine safe. I recommend purchasing two sets; one for on the stairs and a replacement set for when the other is in the wash. TreadSafe Carpet Stair Treads come in three fade-resistant colors (gray, charcoal/gray, and brown) and are easy to install.
PURE ERA Bullnose Stair Treads wrap over the lip of each stair to give a finished and polished look to your staircase. These treads are made from a thick pile polyester and therefore create a safer and more comfortable stair surface. One of my favorite things about these treads is the variety of color options available. They’re super plushy with a nice springy cushion to them, making them perfect for those with arthritic knees. They are for indoor use only, however.
To help complete the look and add another layer of safety to your top and bottom stairway landings, check out PURE ERA’s matching landing mat.
If you like bullnose treads (which wrap over the lip of the stair), you’ll love the quality of Oak Valley Designs’ stair treads. Made with 100% PureColor TwistX Solution Dyed polyester, these treads are both stain- and fade-resistant. I like this option for those experiencing arthritis pain because of the sewn-in padding Oak Valley includes for extra cushion and durability. Staircases tend to be high-traffic areas, and these treads are clearly made to last. They are also sold individually as well as in sets, which is great if you have more steps than a set includes. They come in widths of both 27” and 35”, giving you plenty of coverage for standard-width stairs. The only real downside is they’re limited in color. There’s cottonwood, which is a lighter gray, and angelica, which is a little bit darker.
One important note: if you’re ordering bullnose treads, be sure to measure the height of your stair top. These treads can wrap over a wood height of 1.25” or less.
If you’re looking for a few more color options (although still in the gray and brown categories), Oak Valley Designs’ “Bayside Charm” treads offer a little more variety. They also have a nice diamond-pattern, which will give your steps a little more flair. They still have the same safety and comfort features as the previous recommendation, as well as the bullnose front, but they offer six different colors: crystal canyon, grey, silver birch, wood grain, light grey, and gray (that’s not a typo: “grey” and “gray” are actually different colors, although they are very close).
If you’re looking for more color and a bullnose tread doesn’t matter that much to you, Benissimo offers an array of options. These treads are 100% cotton that are soft on feet and easy on legs. The treads feature a skid-resistant latex backing that secures each runner to the stair. Besides the eight vibrant color options and patterns, I love the fact the matching landing mat is included as part of the set. No need to make an extra purchase! They’re also pet-friendly and complement natural wood stairs very nicely. The only real downside to these treads I’ve found is that you’ll need to be careful when cleaning them. Benissimo recommends cleaning with mild soap and water, so you’ll want to stay away from alkaline or acidic detergents to keep the carpet fibers from breaking down prematurely.
This particular set of praline brown stair treads differs from the rest on my list, because they don’t have an adhesive backing. Instead, they feature a non-slip rubber backing that adds additional traction to keep the tread in place. Made from low profile olefin carpet, these treads are bound on all sides to prevent fraying. House, Home and More has coordinating runners and area rugs to complete the look. Because they are easily moveable and removable, they’re easy to clean, easy to install, and are a great value for money. House, Home and More offers a variety of colors and patterns in their stair treads but be sure to double check how they attach to the stair, because they offer both rubber-backed and adhesive-backed treads.
RIOLAND stair treads provide traction both below and on top of each stair tread with a high-density wool blend that feels great on your feet. It offers an elegant look that will fit in with just about any home decor style. Unlike a lot of the other options on this list, RIOLAND’s stair treads can be cut to your desired length without damage or delamination. Each tread has a pre-applied self-adhesive backing that makes them easy to install and remove. While they are easy to clean (they’re machine washable and can be vacuumed), they do not have as much cushion as other options. They won’t slip, though, so the safety and security are still there.
If you just don’t have the heart to cover your or your loved ones’ beautiful hardwood stairs with carpet, this clear tread from TreadTraks is clearly the best option. Precut strips allow the natural beauty of wooden stairs to shine through, while still providing a protective non-slip grip. TreadTrak’s stair treads are tested to ensure grip, stick, stretch, and strength, so painful slips or trips will be greatly reduced. There are a couple of issues with these treads, though, that DIYers should be aware of: 1) they are waterproof, which is great, but the water needs somewhere to go and can just lay on the tread, which ironically can create a slipping hazard, and 2) you’ll need to install them very carefully, because air bubbles can get trapped. This isn’t really as much of a safety issue (depending on the size of the bubbles) as it is an aesthetic one.
Being able to move throughout your home without worry of slipping or falling on stairs is an easy improvement to add to your DIY list and can make a huge difference in the life of an aging adult. All the stair treads I mention here are easy to install and have step-by-step instructions.
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