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Between two of my rooms I have a height difference of about 4cm. What is an obvious but subtle way to mark the marble floor so the step is obvious, and help to prevent tripping?

I'm thinking of using mini battery-operated LED lights.

By the way in case anyone is curious that step leads to the kitchen and there are necessary pipes underneath it. Hence the raised floor. enter image description here

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"obvious but subtle" hmmm.... – DA01 Aug 16 '13 at 23:42
Maybe "obvious but aesthetically acceptable" is more appropriate :p – rabbid Aug 17 '13 at 2:35
Install a wedge (ramp) is that is wider than toe-to-heal distance for a typical walking stride in the home, thus forcing a step onto the ramp – mike Aug 17 '13 at 4:50
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Subtle: Get clear or color matching traction pad to span 80-100% of the width; use less than 100% to make a nice 1-2 inch border left,right,&front of the step. The traction pad will subconsciously remind your mind there is a step there whether you see it or feel it. If you're more worried about night time, they have some with a mild nite-glow/glow-in-the-dark. It's not going to illuminate the room, just a subtle glow that you'll barely notice otherwise; again, just enough for you to subconsciously know it is there.

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I have black traction pad. Not sure about the clear or color matching pad, would that be visible enough? Interesting suggestion for night time. I didn't know there are glow in the dark ones. Could you link to some examples please? Thanks a lot – rabbid Aug 17 '13 at 2:33
I saw them probably about 2-3 years ago at Northern Tool locally. Searching now, the best I found is grip tape, a bit more sand paper like meant for skate boards. – Jason Aug 17 '13 at 15:37

That is one tricky step you have!

I suggest you install a contrastive colored riser/toe kick and nosing. Something to alert the peripheral vision of a change in height.

The other option I would consider would be a minimalist, one-step handrail.

Really curious to see how you solve this.

Good luck!

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Yup I actually have some 3M safety black tape ready. It was my first suggestion to my wife but she objected on aesthetic grounds. I think she's relenting now that we have had many guests trip and fall over it. Also considering some rubber strips with dark color. Thanks! – rabbid Aug 17 '13 at 2:34

I wouldn't have an overhang on that step first of all. Then I would change the color of the first row of the top step - could also at the same time make the cuts so it doesn't hang over.

If that isn't doable - signage.

enter image description here

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I don't think changing the physical form is possible at the moment, but great suggestion for next time. Thanks a lot :) – rabbid Aug 17 '13 at 2:27

Completely different idea so I wanted to separate to a new answer. Stage the sides to make it more of a transition between rooms. There may already be features like this I can't tell from the one photo. Without trying to degrade the house or look tacky but imagine you're trying to make it look like an add-on. You could put false pillars on the walls to make it feel more like a doorway/transition. You could add an arch to the top with or w/o the sides. You could have curtain/drapes that are always pulled to the side. For obvious but subtle; one way or another you want to emphasize that it is a transition and there happens to be a step there instead of "hey look at this step." "STEP" in flashing red lights and someone will still miss it, aim at the 90% that pays attention to transitions not the 10%.


If this property is used for commercial purposes, make sure you use some sort of sign and/or hand rail; check what is legally required for you to not be at fault for negligence.

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Thanks for your reply. This is an idea my wife and I considered as well by using Flameless LED Candles and put them to the side of each step. Understood about the "doorway." Would appreciate if you could give some examples. Thanks! – rabbid Aug 19 '13 at 2:01
Can you add more pictures? I'd be nice to know what we're working with. – Jason Aug 19 '13 at 17:50

If you're only worried about the step-up direction, create some contrast by darkening the vertical face under the lip. As a prototype, some black tape would work. If it looked good, then you could paint it.

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Worried about both direction but up is more dangerous. I think I will put tape both under the lip and above it. Thanks! – rabbid Aug 17 '13 at 2:30

Adding lights is probably more than enough, but might be objectionable to some occupants for aesthetic reasons.

Anyway, this is a long term hazard and anything battery operated is short term. Of course the lights could be house powered and unless your power is unreliable, that is probably good enough.

A better solution is to increase the contrast. Since both surfaces are light colored, maybe a 5 or 8 cm (2 or 3 inch) black strip across the upper edge would provide enough warning? Maybe prototype it with black duct tape or several strips of electrical tape?

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Yeah would prefer house powered lighting but don't want to pay a lot to just redo this part. I found some mini Led battery operated lights at pegasus lighting that I think would work. The only thing is I live in Indonesia so expensive to send over. – rabbid Aug 17 '13 at 2:32

I am adding a second answer since we did this on my steps. We used stick night lights - no electricity needed. They had a motion sensor. You would just have to play with the motion sensor so that it came on when you wanted.

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Thanks! Do u mind linking to an example of the product? – rabbid Aug 19 '13 at 4:44

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