Tile flooring

Tips for dealing with a slippery bathtub


Q: I have a repainted bathtub and am trying to find a mat to use when I shower. All of the mats I have found have suction cups, but when I read reviews online I see comments that the mats are slippery and unsafe. Where can I find a mat that works well in a remodeled bathtub?

A: Whether a bathtub has a new coating or has retained its original finish, a mat is usually not the best way to prevent someone from slipping. But if the person who refinished your tub didn’t add non-slip grit to the bottom paint, this might be the best option you have.

Alex Roman, sales manager for Tub Coaters (410-316-6243; tubcoaters.com), a Maryland company that works throughout the DC area, said suction cup mats “may remove the finish over time.” But even a mat without suction cups could shorten the life of the finish, he said, especially if the mat is left in place for long periods of time. Persistent moisture and soap scum buildup are not good for finishes.

What’s better than a rug? Squeak. Manufacturers of a variety of tub liner systems offer anti-slip additives to improve traction. Roman says his company uses this type of formula based on the bins, eliminating the need for a mat. The company refinishes thousands of tubs every year, he said, and he hasn’t heard any complaints about the non-slip feature not working or being too sharp. “It won’t stick or hurt you when you want to take a bath,” he said.

Russ Kendzior, founder of the National Floor Safety Institute (nfsi.org) and president of Traction Experts (tractionexperts.com), a fall prevention consulting firm in Southlake, Texas, also cautions against using a mat — not because of the possible effects on the finish, but for safety reasons. “Don’t use mats, period,” he said. A rug may not stay in place, or the edges may curl due to the way a tub is shaped to transition from the floor to the sides.

Unless they’re genuine antiques, from when people mostly took baths rather than showers, tubs that haven’t been refinished usually have some sort of slip-resistant finish on the base. . Over time, shampoo, soap, conditioners, and other products can build up and make the tub more slippery than before. In that case, rather than adding a mat, Kendzior recommends cleaning the tub with a traction product, such as Traction Plus Bath Traction Treatment ($16.79 for an eight-ounce bottle on Amazon). .

Eight ounces are enough to clean a tub or shower bottom, and the process is simple. Wearing rubber gloves, you close the drain, pour out the solution, and scrub the bottom of the tub or shower for 30 seconds. Open the drain and flush. Kendzior said the NFSI has certified this product as a way to restore slip-resistant function to older tubs.

The label says it’s safe to use on most bath surfaces, including porcelain, synthetic resin, fiberglass, and ceramic tile. When asked if it would be safe to use on a refinished tub, Kendzior suggested calling Brent Johnson, whose company, Traction Auditing (817-230-4004; tractionauditing.com), has tested many tubs and surfaces in commercial settings, such as hotels and gyms.

But Johnson said that to his knowledge he had never tested a refurbished tub. Noting that a variety of finishes and coating procedures could be involved, he said there were too many variables for him to give an opinion on the safety of using a traction product on a tub. over.

To increase traction on a bathtub with a quirky finish, Kendzior also recommends non-slip decals, like Secopad’s Non-Slip Shower Stickers ($15.99 for 24 pieces and a scraper on Amazon). Decals may seem like a 1970s fix, Kendzior said, but they work.

However, with a refinish tub, decals can also shorten the life of the finish. Some companies that specialize in refinishing bathtubs warn with equal emphasis against their use and against the use of suction cup mats.

If your remodeled tub doesn’t have a non-slip liner on the bottom and you use it for showers, your best option might be to get a mat without suction cups and hang it to dry after showering, rather than hanging it up. leave in the tub. Search online for “refinish tub bath mat” and you’ll find plenty of options to choose from. The one that doesn’t have suction cups but is designed to stay put anyway: The Original Refinished Tub Mat from Refinished Bath Solutions ($44.95 at Amazon).

But read the details before deciding which rug to order. At least one rug without suction cups doesn’t promise to stay put: Sultan’s Linens Folding Rubber Bath Mat for Textured and Glazed Surfaces ($19.99 at Amazon). In all caps, the product description notes, “This mat is not meant to be ‘slip-resistant.’ It has no suction cups and will slip if the tub is full of water. It can be used in the shower while the water is draining properly. But it folds up for easy storage.

A problem at home? Send your questions to [email protected]. Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live, and try to include a photo.