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Keep Your Home's Steps Functional

Aug 17, 2007
Does your home have indoor or outdoor steps and staircases? Have you spent much time cleaning and maintaining these on a routine basis, or are you trusting to luck that they will hold up indefinitely, or at least until you have more time to give them your attention?

Steps perform a vital function in our homes. Although some people install faux staircases for a designer look, most steps are used to connect different levels of a home and facilitate passage between them through a series of easy-to-climb wood, steel, or vinyl footholds. Except for physically disabled people, these are generally safe enough for any age person to navigate, from toddlers to the elderly. But if they are not, you can do some things to make them more conducive to save passage for all your household members, as well as occasional guests.

Make a rule that the steps cannot have any clutter on them. Assign the task of clearing them each day to one of the kids, or make each person responsible for removing shoes, newspapers, coats, books, and other items they may set down there instead of leaving them laying around for days at a time. It may help to have someone vacuum the steps to remove dust, dropped pins or hairclips, and anything else that could stick someone' bare foot.

Check every few months or so to be sure each step remains solid. Loose boards or torn carpeting can lead to nasty falls. Get your hammer and nails to fix any broken areas promptly to keep someone from falling and getting hurt. While you're at it, check the banisters and railings to be sure they're stable, and that no spokes are splintered or ready to stick out and give someone a splinter. If you don't have a handrail, this might be the time to install one. One on the right-hand side or two for both hands is your choice, depending on family members' needs. Make sure these fit tightly to the wall, and discourage kids from playing on them.

If your steps are carpeted, check for loose strings that may be unraveling, and clip them to prevent their getting caught in people's shoes or in a trailing robe or child's toy. If your steps are bare, consider adding stair treads with thin grooves to help keep users from slipping. This is especially important for steps that lead from the outside to the inside of your home, but they will be useful for any staircase in your house. Make sure the treads are firmly nailed or glued in place, and check periodically for loose ends that could flip up when they catch on someone's slipper or shoe and cause a fall.

Lighting is another important feature of safe stairways. Wall sconces or table lamps on the landings could be helpful. Overhead lighting works, too, although bulbs may be harder to change when they burn out.

You might want to place an area rug at the bottom of the steps, making sure it is secure with a rubber backing that grips the bare floor or adheres in place to the carpet. The rug will catch debris from people's shoes before they take the steps where dried mud and accumulated dust can come off and fill stair treads or coat carpet fibers.
About the Author
Learn from the stair building pros all you will ever need about caring for your household steps for both safety and appearance from Staircase Step at Staircase Step
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