A non-slip shoe can be useful in a wide range of situations, but they really come in handy for certain types of work or employment. While you could technically slip over on almost any smooth surface, one of the most common places to lose your footing during work hours is in restaurants. Not only can this hurt you and damage items around you, but you might even drop food that customers have paid a high price for, ruining the experience and harming the business’ reputation.

If you want to avoid this, then the easiest solution is to make your shoes non-slip, allowing them to work on even the smoothest floors without toppling over. If you want to learn how to make shoes non-slip for restaurant work, here is some advice on the best ways to get them ready without bloating your budget.

Why not just buy non-slip Shoes?

Buying entirely new shoes is always an option, but a non-slip shoe isn’t always compatible with the rest of your work situation. Not only can shoes cost a lot of money that you might not have spare, but getting a shoe that offers the grip that you need while also fitting in with your work uniform isn’t always possible. For example, in higher-class restaurants, the shoes you can wear may be very limited, and the majority may be smooth-soled options. If your footwear comes from the business itself, you might not even have a choice over the type of shoe you wear, other than the size.

On top of that, there is the fact that you can’t always tell how effective a shoe will be, especially when buying it online. Every review you read could be from a company that is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC associates program or another similar system, meaning that there is no guarantee of their reviews being entirely true. In that case, the best way to ensure that a shoe fits your requirements is to make it fit your requirements. But how?

Damaging Methods

These are methods that require you to damage or alter your shoe to make it less slippery and improve the grip it can offer. If you don’t mind damaging your footwear slightly to make it more effective, then these can be good ways of consistently improving grip. Many of these can be semi-permanent, but can also lead to your shoe wearing out faster if you don’t do them correctly.

Scuffing

While many people see scuffing your new shoes as a bad thing, it can be an excellent way to make your shoes more stable on smooth surfaces. By walking on rough ground such as concrete, rock, rough paving stones, natural earth, or solid dirt, you can gradually make your shoes’ soles more worn-in. This gives them a better chance of gripping on almost any type of ground, using the abrasion damage to your advantage. If you are working with brand new shoes, non-slippery soles might be hard to come by, but this method can help you create your own.

Be aware that scuffing is a form of damage, at least in a technical sense. Make sure that you don’t overdo your walks – if you want your shoes to last longer, you should only scruff them enough to make them slip-resistant. Too much scuffing can render a shoe extremely uncomfortable, and might even break it entirely.

Nail Files

A nail file might seem like a bizarre choice for working with a shoe sole, but it can be surprisingly effective. A decent metal file can be used to scuff the bottom of your sole in specific areas, giving you a more controlled way to wear down areas of the soles and make them more slip-resistant. Keep in mind that every sole is different, so you might have to alter how you adjust the soles of your shoes based on which areas touch the ground most often. Other than that, the idea is the same as the shoe scuffing mentioned earlier, only done in a more direct way.

You can use other similar materials such as sandpaper and wooden files, but not all of them will be as effective. If you can’t make shoes slip-resistant with the tool you are trying, it is possible that you might have to switch to something else instead, especially if the soles are tougher than usual. Keep in mind that weaker nail file designs can wear out eventually, especially against tougher shoes with soles that take more effort to file down.

Sand

Sticking sand to the soles of your shoes is generally a last-ditch attempt at making your shoes non-slip, and should only be used once you are sure that your sole won’t track sand granules all over the restaurant. To make it work, you need to coat the bottom of your soles with sand – regular sand, like the type you find on a beach – and use a spray adhesive to stick it in place. As long as the adhesive is strong enough, it should work properly, allowing you to use the sand as an extra layer of sole grip until it wears off.

Remember that this won’t last very long, and that you will need to re-apply the adhesive and sand every so often. If it wears off during your work hours, you will start to leave sand around the restaurant. Using this method long-term can also start to damage the soles of your shoes, which can be either a good thing or bad thing depending on the exact type of damage it causes.

Sandpaper

Sandpaper is another good option for scuffing soles and can work well if you have no other options available. It can only take a few seconds to make a smooth shoe sole rougher. If you have a very limited budget, barely any time to spare, and don’t care about damaging your soles, then this is one of the most practical options for making shoes non-slip and viable for restaurant work. The type of sandpaper and the way that you use it can also alter the results of your scuffing.

On the other hand, you can also try sticking the sandpaper to the sole of your shoe instead. This is likely to damage the finish of certain surfaces, but if you work in a restaurant with a large outdoor area, this can be an excellent way to keep your balance on natural stone or other solid surfaces that you don’t mind putting at risk.

Non-Damaging Methods

If you don’t want to – or aren’t allowed to – damage your footwear, then you might have to turn to other options that don’t leave any traces of damage behind if done properly. In general, these are no more or less effective than the damaging methods, but can definitely be much more temporary in the long run. Remember that you may have to re-apply these on a regular basis, sometimes even daily.

Grip Pads

If damaging your shoes doesn’t sound like a good idea, then you can make your shoes slip less using grip pads. These are small adhesive pads that stick to the bottom of your shoes, providing more grip without forcing you to alter the sole itself. They attach to the bottom of the sole directly, almost like masking tape would, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Even having a small pad in a key area can make shoes less slippery – the more of your smooth soles you cover-up, the better grip you can have.

Note that these pads can be expensive and may eventually wear out if you can’t take them off between uses, so wearing them for long periods of time can be a pricey investment. Certain pads are also designed to be effective specifically on one sole type, so be sure to check the website or business you are buying the products from.

Traction Spray

Like grip pads, traction spray is meant to make your shoes slip-resistant, specifically during winter weather. However, you can still make use of it in a restaurant or other business with smooth flooring: the non-slip coating means that any shoes can become suitable for restaurant use, although the traction spray won’t always be a perfect solution. As you would expect, the sprays are non-permanent and will eventually wear off, so you might need to stock up a reasonably large supply if you plan to use it consistently.

Make sure that you read the instructions before applying the spray to your shoes, too. Non-slip sprays can easily be dangerous or damaging if used incorrectly, and ruining your only pair of shoes that are suitable for restaurant work can be a massive blow to your own performance.

Puff Paint

Traction spray isn’t the only coating that can make shoes non-slip. Puff paint is a type of paint used mostly by children for arts and crafts projects, but the specific mixture also means that it can be an effective way of making any pair of shoes more slip-resistant on short notice. The paint should work correctly as long as you apply a thin layer to both sides of your soles, then allow it to dry for a few hours.

While puff paint isn’t going to completely revolutionize how a shoe grips onto surfaces, it can be a cheap and effective option, especially when you buy the puff paint itself in bulk. It can also last longer than many other DIY options and doesn’t take much skill to apply to your soles. The only thing you should watch out for is if you paint over parts of your shoes – in a professional restaurant, it might not be appropriate to turn up to work with a shoe that has paint stains, even if they blend in with the material underneath.

Ankle Straps

Ankle straps might not make shoes non-slip in the usual sense, but they can make your shoes far easier to wear on slippery surfaces. This is ideal for situations where non-slip shoes wouldn’t solve the problem, and your own balance is the issue that keeps causing you to slip. Instead of making your shoes non-slip, you can use these straps to help keep your ankles and legs at the proper angles, allowing you to walk on slippery or greasy surfaces with more support.

These ankle straps are also good for non-slip shoes that you are finding difficult to wear. Women may benefit from this most, especially if a work dress code requires that they wear a certain type of shoe that they might not be entirely comfortable or familiar with, such as high-heeled shoes.

Masking Tape

Using masking tape is another very simple option, similar to solutions like the sand trick mentioned above. Using tape like this is incredibly unreliable, especially if the tape is cheap and will fall off easily, but it can be a very short-lived way to quickly add some extra traction to every step. A full roll of masking tape can make your shoes into non-slip shoes for a reasonably long time, but the cause of the slippery flooring can sometimes alter this: if water is the problem, expect the tape to come off very frequently.

Getting New Soles

If nothing else works, replacing or augmenting your existing sole options with new shoe soles can be a pricey but reliable way to get non-slip shoes quickly. If any of your slips (shoes or not) are caused by the surface you are walking on, then one of the best ways to work against it is to improve the shoe itself. By swapping out the sole for a non-slip alternative, you directly improve the grip that each shoe has on slippery surfaces, and can often get other benefits from it as well.

Remember that this can be a difficult choice to make. The texture and material of the sole matters, even down to particular types of rubber, and a new pair of shoes might be designed in a way that requires a certain sole shape. Sometimes a slippery pair of shoes is preferable, so if you use the same footwear for different situations, you might have to choose between one of the two sole types.

The option to temporarily attach new soles to the bottom of your existing soles is a tempting one, but keep in mind that the job isn’t easy. Using hot glue can be tricky enough already, and you can’t always simply buy a sole that is ready to stick on – you might have to trim it down first, then make sure that you can add the sole without making your footwear uncomfortable or awkward to move around in.

What Should I Do?

If you can’t decide on which method of the above to use, then don’t be afraid to experiment with them and figure out for yourself. Different situations and workplaces might call for specific ways of improving your footwear, or you might find that a certain technique is easier for you to handle than any of the others. Whatever you end up choosing to do, keep in mind that some of these tips in this article might need to be done regularly, rather than as a one-time solution.

About the Author

Hey, I'm Lilly Harvey. If there's two things I'm passionate about in life, it's shoes and writing!

Combining both my passions with my Fashion Design degree, I've helped create Shoe Adviser to help readers choose the best shoes for them, enjoy!

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