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Less Slip, More Stick: How To Fix a Slippery Hardwood Floor

Less Slip, More Stick: How To Fix a Slippery Hardwood Floor

Everyone enjoys the beauty and elegance of timeless hardwood floors, but the fear of slick floors is real for many homeowners. Slippery floors can be caused by a variety of things, but don’t worry! We’ve got your slippery hardwood floor solutions.

Why Are My Hardwood Floors Slippery?

Solid hardwood floors have a naturally porous, textured finish. Slippery wood floors are caused by a lack of friction, which typically allows us to have sufficient traction to cross the floor safely. So it might be surprising when slippery surfaces pop up on your wooden floors.

Most often, it’s the buildup of grime, cleaning products, polish coating, or wax residue that reduces friction on the surface of your floor.

The Wrong Products For Your Type of Floor

Using the wrong cleaning products for your hardwood flooring can turn smooth surfaces into slick surfaces very quickly. Make sure you check cleaning product labels for ingredients and compatibility before applying them to your wood floors.

Not only can the wrong products build a slick residue on your floor, they can also degrade your floor’s finish. Both have the potential to create slippery surfaces!   

Dirt or Dust Build Up

Like product build up, dust and grime can reduce the surface friction of your wood floor, creating a slip or slide waiting to happen. 


It’s important to clean and thoroughly dry a spill as soon as you notice it on your floor, for several reasons. Not only can spills create a safety risk, even excess water can eventually leak through worn finish and potentially damage your floor boards over time. You may have even noticed the film of water that has soaked into a coating of wax or floor polish on an otherwise clean floor.

Keep your floor safe and avoid slippery surfaces by addressing spills immediately.

Too Much Wax or Polish

Like your cleaning products, it’s important to carefully read application instructions and ingredients on the label before applying them to your beautiful hardwood floor.

Slippery Floor Fixes 

Is your hardwood floor too slippery? The good news is,  slippery hardwood floors are typically easy to fix.

Dust and Mop Your Wood Floor

If surface dust or dirt buildup is causing a slick surface, start with dust mopping. If a dry dust mop doesn’t do the trick, try damp mopping with warm water and white vinegar, or an appropriate cleaning solution. Remember to check product labels for compatibility and safety information. Be sure to finish with a clean, wet mop and bucket of warm water only to remove any lasting dirt or residue.

Try a New Finish or Wax

If you suspect your wax or floor polish buildup could be to blame, damp mopping is still a good first step. Floors that retain a slippery residue after regular cleaning might need a deep cleaning, or even a refinish. This is why it’s important to always check product compatibility and application instructions.

If your smooth flooring comes clean after a wet mopping and slick residues are gone, shop around before you apply another wax or polish. If the high gloss look appeals to you, refinishing with a high-gloss finish can be an excellent option. Keep newly finished floors free of harsh or incompatible chemicals and products.

Use Area Rugs to Protect Heavily Trafficked Floors

Some flooring areas, like entryways, hallways, and dining rooms, are more susceptible to damage, spills and slick buildups. Sometimes area rugs can provide protection for your floor from scratches caused by furniture and a slippery finish from too much traffic. It can also keep your floor cleaner and provide a layer of protection against spills. Just be sure to address spills on the rug as quickly as you would on your hardwood floors.

Area rugs can be a perfect solution for short-term protection too, like when your kids are young and prone to spilling liquids or tracking dirt and rocks into the house. Be sure to clean the floor with a soft bristle broom before laying the area rug, and repeat regularly to maintain the floor. 

Non-slip pads can be a great way to keep your area rugs in place. Check pads regularly as spills and temperature extremes can cause them to stick to some flooring finishes. Regularly remove rug and non-slip pads to sweep with a soft bristle broom or dust mop. 

Clean Spills Immediately

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: keep your floor clean and absorb spills with a dry towel as soon as you notice them. After wiping up the spill, allow the area to dry exposed to air for an hour or longer, depending how long the spill has been setting in.

Consider a Non-Stick Treatment

Finally, if all else fails to address your slick floor problem, consider an anti-slip coating as an added safety measure. Non-slip coatings can add an extra layer of protection against ultra-slick, smooth flooring, but should only be applied if other methods fail. These products should also be checked for surface and chemical compatibility, and should not be used as a permanent solution for slippery floors, because even good-quality products can age your finish and flooring faster. 

But the beauty of hardwood flooring is that proper cleaning and regular maintenance will likely fix your problem first. 

The Takeaway

Don’t let a fear of hardwood floors stop you from enjoying their beauty. Hardwood flooring is not naturally slick or dangerous for people to walk across, and finding a solution for slippery floors is likely easier than you think. 

If you love the sleek elegance of a high-gloss floor, choose a high-gloss finish that doesn’t require wax or polish to maintain. Confused about where to begin, or having trouble trouble-shooting that slick spot on your floor? We’re here to help.

Check out our other blog posts for DIY topics like refinishing and what to do when you’ve made a mistake, like cleaning your floor with bleach.