Introduction: Adding Traction to Boots

About: I'm cheap and like to use what I have on hand and I really enjoy taking things apart to salvage parts. Rather than be a precise engineering type of person, I'm more of an enthusiastic tinkerer. Making things i…

My wife purchased a pair of boots that she loved except that the heels were made of some funky plastic that had no traction. The manufacturer had molded grooves into the heels but they simply did not grip. This resulted in her nearly falling several times, until she actually did. While she wasn't hurt, something needed to be done so she asked me to add rubber to the heels. Here is how I did made her fashionable footwear safer.

Step 1: Materials

You'll see a lot of stuff in the materials shot I didn't end up using. Originally I was going to use Grip Dip, but what I had on hand was so old it couldn't be rejuvenated. So I had to change course and used spray rubber instead. Here's what I used for this project:
  • Spray rubber
  • Masking tape
  • Newspaper
  • Paper towels
  • Cleaning solution (I used vinegar water)
  • Something to hold the boots (I used my boot dryer)
  • Utility knife

Step 2: Cleaning

The first step is to clean the dirt off the heels of the boots. If this isn't accomplished the rubber won;t adhere very well. Put the boots on whatever you intend to use to support them during the process. (Whatever you choose should give you easy access to the heels. I used my boot dryer.) Apply the cleaning solution to the heels and clean the dirt off with paper towels.

Step 3: Masking

The next step is to mask the areas we don't want to rubberize. After all we aren't trying to make rain boots, we just want rubber on the heels. I started by using painters' tape to make a perimeter around the heels. Make sure the tape is as smooth a possible. if the tape is uneven this will allow the rubber to run under the tape. This will result in unsightly rubber strings and/or damage the material of the boots. With the heels taped use news paper to protect the rest of the boots.I made sure the paper covered all parts of the boots and used copious amounts of masking tape to keep it in place and make sure seams were sealed.

Step 4: Spray Rubber

Follow the directions on your spray rubber of choice to apply this to the heels. I went with one light coat. This was to add traction without adding height to the heels so my wife won't have her gait affected. I let the rubber set for about half an hour and then removed the masking material so it wouldn't be bonded to the rubber. Then I allowed the rubber to cure for full 24 hours.

Step 5: Trim Excess

I did a fairly good job masking, but there was one rubber string that formed under the tape. Once the rubber was fully cured I used my thumb nail to lift it off the heel and trimmed it off with a utility knife. That being done my wife now has fashionable boots that won;t break her neck.