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I recently replaced the handrail on my staircase. I had just painted the moulding with a gloss white paint, and decided to paint the handrail the same color. It looks great! It's also very smooth and low-friction.

Is there any kind of coating, treatment, or something else I can do to it to make it high-friction? I'm imagining some sort of polyeurethane, rubberized gloss, or something like that.

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Polyurethane might work. It can be a bit grippy. Try it on a smooth wood rood first before painting your whole handrail. –  Alex Feinman Jul 12 '12 at 14:57
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Keep in mind that, while high friction is desirable when one makes a panic grab for the rail, very high friction can be very annoying to someone using the rail for assistance or security, sliding their hand along as they go. –  bcworkz Jul 12 '12 at 23:37
    
If you are only interested in a cheap non-skid solution, mixing some sand in with the paint (I've used play sand) will increase friction tremendously. However, I've only ever used this on deck floors - never on rails (probably wouldn't feel very nice). –  RQDQ Sep 10 '12 at 17:15
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Yes, it's called anti-skid coating (or non-skid coating, or anti-slip coating). Some brands are Non-Skid Paint and Sure Step. I have never used it, so I don't know how well it works.

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