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Although they aren’t regarded as the most crucial segment of a home, stairs can make any interior more functional and stylish. The trick is to find the best flooring for stairs since each flooring material has different properties.
Each type of flooring used for bedrooms and living rooms can be used to cover the stairs. Going through our guide to types of flooring can help you figure out which material is best suited for your project.
It is worth noting that the stairs’ design in your home can affect your choice of materials, as some utilize flooring materials for structural purposes while others use flooring for primarily decorative purposes.
This article will show you how to find the best flooring for stairs and take you through the essential features of materials commonly used to make staircases safer and more elegant.
Top 5 Flooring Solutions for Stairs
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An overview of flooring materials
Interior staircases can be made of concrete, or they can have support beams that carry the steps. In either case, you can cover the flooring steps to make them less slippery or protect them from damage.
In case you want to replace the steps on a double stringer staircase, chances are that you’ll have to opt for hardwood since not a lot of other flooring materials can’t carry a lot of weight. However, even if you have this type of staircase in your home you can still cover it with different flooring materials.
Carpets or carpet treads are a simple flooring solution for stairs as they are affordable and easy to install, but stains and daily wear and tear may force you to change them often.
Even though ceramic or stone tiles are commonly used for outdoor staircases, they can also be an elegant solution for interior concrete stairs. Laminate and vinyl flooring options are affordable for concrete staircases, but these materials can be noisy and prone to damage.
Which flooring materials can be used for stairs?
All-natural and artificial flooring materials can be installed on staircases, but you should avoid materials that can’t withstand a lot of traffic. Consequently, hardwoods or tiles are probably the best options if the material’s durability is your primary concern.
Different variations of hardwood such as the engineered hardwood or prefinished hardwood are a popular choice for both concrete and stringer stairs because of their natural visual appearance. You should keep in mind that hardwood steps for stringer stairs have to be pressure treated.
Also, the installation cost of the hardwood flooring materials is considerable, and opting to cover the staircase with a carpet or laminate flooring might be a budget-friendly solution.
You should take the size of the area you’d like to cover into account while choosing the material for your staircase because it will help you calculate the amount of flooring material you have to get.
Check out our guide to the best Home Depot alternatives to find out which retailers offer the best staircase flooring solutions.
The special requirements of flooring options for stairs
Unlike the floor in a kitchen or bathroom, the flooring material you install on stairs isn’t going to be exposed to water frequently. That’s why you don’t have to search for a material that has excellent water resistance capabilities.
Staircases are high-traffic areas that require flooring that has a high hardness level. Flooring solutions that are designed for low-traffic areas will get worn out quickly if they are exposed to constant pressure.
A laminate that has a rating higher than AC3 or hardwoods that rank highly on the Janka scale are ideal choices for staircases because they won’t be affected by a high amount of traffic.
Safety is another aspect you need to consider because some flooring materials can be slippery. Checking how the material behaves when it’s wet or humid will decrease the chances of accidental falls.
The installation process
Laying out flooring can be a complex process that is often best left to professionals. Hardwoods and tiles require preparation of the surface that has to be perfectly even. Installing these flooring materials on uneven surfaces can make them less functional and affect the staircase’s look.
Check out our guide to the best tile leveling systems if you want to ensure that the tiles on your staircase are perfectly aligned. Carpets, laminate, and vinyl flooring are not challenging to install, which reduces the total cost of the project and makes them suitable for DIYers.
However, you will still need a circular saw and other woodworking tools if you want to install laminate or vinyl flooring on your own. Carpet flooring is relatively easy to install especially if you opt for carpet treads that cover a step only partially.
Matching the style of flooring for stairs with floors in other rooms
You shouldn’t be guided solely by functionality during the search for the best flooring solution for your staircase. The material you choose should match the flooring in the rest of your home and especially in the areas that are close to the stairs.
The color, texture, or style of the staircase flooring should be similar to the flooring at the top and the bottom of the stairs. Even so, you don’t necessarily have to use the same material for all of these surfaces.
For instance, carpet flooring on the stairs can fit nicely with hardwood flooring in the hallway or the living room. A broad range of models is available for all flooring options, so finding the solution that matches your project’s aesthetic requirements shouldn’t be too hard.
It is worth noting that all popular flooring solutions for stairs have different maintenance requirements, and lack of proper maintenance can shorten their life span.
The advantages of flooring for stairs
Protection of the subfloor surface
Covering a staircase with the flooring will keep the subfloor surface protected. In the long run, this will reduce the need for structural interventions that may be required if the concrete starts to deteriorate. Also, flooring for stairs can prevent scratching or chipping of wooden steps.
Falling down the stairs can cause serious injuries, so you should do everything in your power to eliminate the chances of such accidents. Choosing a flooring material that isn’t slippery will make everyone in your household safer.
Strong visual effect
Each of the available flooring options for stairs can make your home’s interior more elegant. Hardwoods, tiles, or laminates are available in a broad range of designs, enabling you to choose a model that matches your home’s style.
The disadvantages of flooring for stairs
High installation costs
The installation of some flooring solutions can cost a few thousand dollars, even if your staircase has just ten steps. Hardwood and tile flooring materials require professional installation, which increases their overall cost, so you should consider other flooring options if your budget is limited.
Factors worth considering while choosing to floor for stairs
Choosing the best time to buy flooring may help you get high-quality materials at discounted prices for your staircase.
Besides the cost and quality of the material, you have to consider several other factors while deciding which flooring solution works best for the stairs you’re remodeling.
Let’s take a look at some factors that might help you narrow down your choices and find flooring for stairs that matches your demands perfectly.
Material’s noise level
Some flooring materials produce a lot of noise when you step on them, making them a less than ideal option for families with one or more pets.
Vinyl and laminates are among the noisiest flooring materials, and you should avoid them if the sounds they’re producing are going to disturb you while you sleep. Carpet flooring is your best choice if you’re looking for staircase flooring that doesn’t make noise.
Hardness and durability
Staircases are among the most frequently used parts of any home, and the flooring you install on them has to withstand high amounts of pressure daily. Consequently, hardwoods that score better than 1000lbs on the Janka scale are recommended for staircase flooring.
If you want to install laminate flooring on the stairs, you should look for models that have an AC3 rating as they’re durable enough to handle high amounts of pressure.
Installing slippery flooring on the stairs can be dangerous, especially for elderly people and children. Carpet treads are your best bet if you want to minimize the chances of hard falls, while hardwoods can also be a great option as they aren’t naturally slippery.
On the other hand, vinyl and laminate flooring planks can be very slippery, and you shouldn’t install them on stairs if you’re concerned about how safe your stairs are going to be.
Style and color
The diversity of the flooring solutions for stairs can be overwhelming, as the options you have at your disposal are limitless. Hardwood, tile, laminate, or vinyl flooring can have a broad range of colors, patterns, textures, or styles.
You should choose the option that best fits your taste, but you should also pay attention to how well it fits the flooring in other rooms.
The staircase flooring installation costs can drain your home renovation budget quickly, even though the materials themselves are mostly affordable. However, installing oak or maple hardwood on the stairs is pricey since you’ll have to spend between $3 and $10 per square foot for labor.
On the other hand, installing laminate flooring on a staircase will cost you between $45 and $125 per step.
Top 5 best flooring solutions for stairs
Hardwood – The most stylish flooring option for stairs
In addition to being durable and, elegant hardwood flooring solutions also increase the value of the property. The material isn’t naturally slippery, although the coating, wax, or polish can make it slippery if they get dirty.
Most types of wood used to manufacture hardwood flooring have Janka ratings that are higher than 1000lbs, so you shouldn’t worry if the model you choose can endure high traffic. Besides, all hardwood flooring can be refinished if it gets damaged.
The installation process of hardwood flooring is demanding, so you shouldn’t attempt to install it on your own unless you have the necessary experience.
- Matches modern and vintage interior styles
- Durable material that can withstand high amounts of pressure
- All hardwood flooring models can be refinished
- The material isn’t slippery
- Complicated installation process
- Some hardwood flooring models can be expensive
Carpet treads – The best anti-slip flooring option for stairs
The simple installation process, excellent anti-slip properties, and additional warmth of the carpet treads make them a popular flooring option for stairs. Besides treads that cover only a portion of a step, you can use other types of carpet flooring if you want to cover the entire staircase.
Carpet treads guard the steps from scratches and damages, and they don’t make noise when you step on them. Carpet flooring isn’t as durable as other flooring options, and you should only use it if no one from your family suffers from allergies.
- Affordable price
- Simple installation process
- Eliminates noises
- It makes the surface of steps warmer
- High maintenance requirements
- Relatively short life span
Ceramic tiles – The most durable flooring option for stairs
If you’re looking for a long-term flooring solution for your staircase, ceramic tiles might be one of your best options. Their durability makes them suitable for high-traffic areas, while the broad spectrum of designs enables you to match them with the style of your home’s interior.
Also, ceramic tiles have a high water resistance level, and they won’t be affected by water spillage. However, you must use an anti-slip solution to make ceramic tiles less slippery since it might be hard to keep your balance on wet ceramic tiles.
This flooring material can get very cold during the winter months, making it a poor choice if you live in a region with a cold climate.
- Excellent pressure resistance
- Cleaning ceramic tiles is easy
- A wide range of styles, patterns, and designs is available
- Damaging or scratching this flooring material is difficult
- Ceramic tiles are slippery
- Not a great flooring option for cold climates
Laminate flooring – The best flooring solution for stairs for DIYers
Instead of hiring professionals to install staircase flooring for you and spending a lot of money in the process, you can cut expenses by installing laminate flooring on your own. The material replicates different types of wood, but it is considerably less durable than hardwood flooring options.
You must choose a suitable model for a high-traffic area since laminate floors with AC1 and AC2 ratings are designed for bedrooms and other low-traffic areas.
The material is resistant to scratches and impacts, so you can’t damage it quickly, and you won’t have to replace it more often than once in a decade.
- The Tongue and Groove mechanism simplifies the installation process
- Low maintenance requirements
- Resists scratching and impacts well
- It fits different home décor styles
- Laminate flooring makes noises when you step on it
- Refinishing laminate isn’t an option
Vinyl flooring – The most affordable flooring solution for stairs
Even though vinyl flooring is made of plastic, it is still environmentally friendly because you won’t have to replace it for decades. Besides, the material is resistant to scratches, high-velocity impacts and it isn’t slippery.
Vinyl flooring can be purchased as planks, sheets, or tiles, and each of these options is equally affordable. The installation process is straightforward and can be completed by an experienced DIYer, so in most cases, there’ll be no need to hire professionals.
The only downside is that the material doesn’t have the look and feel of natural flooring materials, although it attempts to mimic their visual appearance.
- Less expensive than most flooring materials
- Highly durable and resistant to damages
- Straightforward installation process
- Vinyl flooring isn’t slippery
- Doesn’t look as good as natural flooring materials
- Sudden temperature changes can affect vinyl flooring
Frequently asked questions about the best flooring for stairs
Answer: The amount of flooring material you’re going to need to cover an entire staircase depends on the size and number of steps. On average, you’ll need around 80 square feet of flooring material to cover a staircase that has ten steps.
Answer: Staircases are usually made of concrete, wood, metal, or glass, and they’re considered incomplete until some type of flooring is placed over the subfloor.
Answer: The frequency at which you’ll have to replace flooring for the staircase depends on the quality of the materials you choose and how well you take care of the flooring you installed.
Answer: According to the real estate agents, installing hardwood flooring on a staircase can increase the property’s value, but laminate or vinyl flooring doesn’t necessarily raise the home’s value.
Our Verdict: Which flooring material to choose for stairs in your home
Despite the fact that finding the flooring material for a staircase isn’t a difficult task, there several factors you have to consider before you choose one flooring option over another.
Safety, the position of the staircase, or how warm is a flooring material are just some of the aspects that can help you choose the right flooring for stairs. We recommend choosing hardwood flooring because it is durable, tasteful and it matches almost all types of home décor styles.
The high price of hardwood flooring can be the reason why homeowners search for other options, so if you’re looking for a way to cut costs, you should consider carpet flooring options because they make the surface of the steps less slippery. They look good in almost any setting.
Which flooring for stairs are you going to choose? Let us know in the comments or read our bamboo vs laminate flooring comparison to find out which of these materials is a better choice for your staircase.