Revamp Your Staircase: 5 Best Flooring Options for Stairs
Looking to revamp your stairs? Taking the time to think about how you want to decorate your stairway and set the tone for your home is time and money well spent. You can even improve the safety of your household depending on the flooring choice you go for in this high-traffic area.
What to consider when choosing flooring options for your stairs
There’s a number of questions to ask yourself as a homeowner before building or renovating your stairs. The first and most obvious question being: What type of flooring should you use? Choosing the best flooring will depend on several factors. Below are some of the main points to consider that will help you determine which material to floor your stairs with:
Budget. Need we say more? Flooring options can range from $2 to $12 per square foot, depending on what type of flooring you’re looking for. So be sure to determine your square footage and price range before deciding on a flooring type.
Level of Maintenance. How much time and money are you willing to invest in maintaining your staircase flooring? Certain flooring such as hardwood makes for beautiful stairs but will need to be treated more often than something like laminate.
Noise. Stairs located near a living room may benefit from softer flooring surfaces that muffle noise so you aren’t constantly hearing people walking up and down the stairs.
Slip Resistance. Safety is key. Look for surfaces that aren’t slippery to avoid any unwanted accidents. If you have children or anyone with limited mobility living in your home, consider flooring materials that offer extra traction, such as carpet.
Level of Traffic. Think about how much your household will use the stairs. Will it be a high-traffic area? A staircase leading down to the basement won’t require as durable a surface compared to a staircase located by the front door or one that leads up to bedrooms.
Look and Feel. This is completely up to individual taste and style. But in general, a modern home will call for different stair flooring than a cozy, rustic home. Consider the look you want to achieve before selecting the perfect flooring for your staircase.
The Best Types of Floor Options for Stairs
Now that you’ve considered your budget, preferred maintenance, noise constraints, safety, traffic levels and the overall look you’d like to achieve, let’s weigh the pros and cons of the most popular flooring types for stairs.
Vinyl Plank Flooring For Stairs
Luxury vinyl plank, also known as LVP or vinyl plank, is a highly versatile and budget-friendly material for stairs. Manufacturers can make vinyl flooring that resembles almost anything you can imagine, from stone to metal to tile, though the most popular picks are oak and hickory wood. You’ll find that vinyl plank is made of high-quality material, making it almost impossible to tell the difference between genuine hardwood and vinyl. Due to its waterproof and stain-resistant material, LVP is extremely easy to keep clean.
Advantages of Vinyl Plank
- Durability. Vinyl plank is a tough and durable flooring material, so it’s ideal for stairs that get a lot of daily use. It can last from 10 to 25 years if looked after properly.
- Versatility. LVP comes in a variety of different looks, allowing you to have hardwood, ceramic or stone-looking stairs at a lower price point.
- Easy to Clean. Vinyl plank flooring can be cleaned with a soft-brush broom or vacuum and only requires seasonal deep-cleaning to maintain its appearance.
Disadvantages of Vinyl Plank
- Noisy. LVP is not as quiet as carpet. If you have stairs that are leading toward any bedrooms or in a prominent area of your home, vinyl might not be the best option.
- Difficult To Remove. Because vinyl flooring is glued down with such a strong adhesive, it is much harder to remove or replace than a material like carpet.
Hardwood Flooring For Stairs
Regarded as one of the most desirable and upscale types of staircase flooring, hardwood flooring can have a major impact on the design and feel of your stairs and overall home. It’s unsurpassed when it comes to elegant beauty. A high-quality hardwood installation on a staircase can last as long as the house and is easy to clean. The one drawback of hardwood is that it can be slippery when wet. However, no-slip treads and other precautions can be installed to keep the polished hardwood surface from being a hazard.
If you like natural wood in your home, then a hardwood staircase may be the perfect option for you. With choices like oak, beech, ash or walkabout, to name a few, you can create a beautiful staircase that fits in with the rest of your home flooring and furniture.
Advantages of Hardwood
- Durability. Hardwood is a great option for its hard-wearing durability. It can take high levels of foot traffic without being marked or dented.
- Variety. Each wood shows its own characteristic markings and can be stained to match the look and feel of your home. There is a wide selection of stains, woods, thickness levels and patterns available. Hardwood floors are also easy to mix and match.
- Easy Maintenance. Most hardwood stairs just need sweeping or vacuuming to keep them free from dust and debris. To keep them polished, occasionally clean with a wood floor cleaner.
Disadvantages of Hardwood
- High Cost. Hardwood is not a cheap refurbishment option and typically costs anywhere from $6 to $12 per square foot.
- Noisy. Hardwood does not absorb the sound of feet running up and down, so wooden stairs can be noisy.
- Slippery. Wood floors can be slippery and may be an issue if you have small children or elderly people using the stairs in your home.
Carpet Flooring For Stairs
Out of all the options on our list, carpet is by far the safest type of flooring for stairs. A carpeted staircase with short, dense fibers can do a lot for your home. The shorter fibers are more durable and can weather heavy foot traffic while still feeling soft and comfortable underfoot. Carpet is not as slippery as other types of flooring, making it a great choice if you have young children or elderly people in your home. Another advantage of carpet is that you can get it in practically any color or pattern you want.
Advantages of Carpet
- Quiet. Carpet keeps the noise of feet marching up and down the stairs to a minimum.
- More Traction. Carpeted stairs offer more traction than hard surfaces and are softer underfoot. It’s also the warmest material to have under your feet due to its heat-insulating properties.
- Variety and Versatility. This flooring comes in a wide range of colors, finishes, patterns and materials, giving you a variety of style options.
Disadvantages of Carpet
- Traps Dirt. The short fibers of carpet make it the perfect place to trap dirt, dust, pollen and other allergens. Because of this, carpet does require regular vacuuming.
- Retains Moisture. Carpet is known to retain moisture and, if not properly maintained, it can become a home for mold and mildew.
- Stains and Odors. Carpet flooring can also capture stains and odors, particularly in households with pets and children.
- High Maintenance. On top of regular vacuuming, carpet flooring will require deep cleaning over its lifespan. Over time it will also need to be completely replaced.
Carpet Runner For Stairs
If you don’t want the expense of carpeting the entire staircase, consider installing a carpet runner instead. A runner not only adds traction but can also be color-coordinated with the flooring beneath it and around other areas of the house. Homeowners typically opt for a hardwood flooring beneath their carpet runner. There is a huge variety of runner carpets available, from solid colors to stripes, and intricate designs to a more natural look.
Advantages of Carpet Runners
- Cuts Down on Noise. The density of carpet keeps the noise of feet marching up and down the stairs to a minimum.
- Variety. Carpet runners come in a wide variety of colors, finishes, patterns and materials.
Disadvantages of Carpet Runners
- Traps Dust and Dirt. Carpet runners will require regular vacuuming. Spillage may also occur and will need to be dealt with swiftly so that it does not leave a lasting mark on the carpet.
- Retains Moisture. Carpet is known to retain moisture, which can then grow mold that can be toxic for those with allergies.
- Stains and Odors. Carpet can also capture stains and odors, particularly in households with pets and children.
Decorative Tile For Stair Risers
Using tile as a decorative stair riser in conjunction with existing stair treads is a great way to give your stairs an extra pop. Tile comes in a wide variety of textures, patterns and colors that can suit any style or budget. Ceramic is the most common and recommended tile material for stair risers as it’s much more durable than porcelain or glass. One thing to note is that tiles are much heavier than other materials on this list, creating limits as to where tile stairs can be installed in your home. Make sure that your stairs can withstand the weight of the tiles you’ve chosen before installing.
Advantages of Tile Stair Risers
- Non-Allergenic. Similar to hardwood flooring, tile doesn’t attract dirt, dust or other allergens, making it an easy-to-clean surface. All you need is a broom or a mop. No fuss, no muss.
- Lower Cost. Installing tile risers to an existing stair tread cuts costs by more than half!
- Durability. Tile flooring is extremely tough and is perfect for stairs that see high traffic use. High-quality tiles can last up to 20 years or longer if properly maintained.
Disadvantages of Tile Stair Risers
- Installation. There are lots of factors to consider for any type of floor installation, but putting down tiles is the hardest to do. It requires many tools, grouts, mortars, etc. Installing tiles is a labor-intensive project and will cost you a pretty penny.
- Heavy. The weight of the tiles may be a problem. Tile floors are heavy, so they cannot be installed everywhere. Check with a flooring specialist before you install to make sure your existing stair treads are a good match for tile risers.
Which flooring type should you choose for your stairs?
Still not sure which type of flooring you should choose for your stairs? Use our visualizer tool to get a better idea of what would look best in your home! Simply upload an image of your staircase and choose different flooring types to play around with your options.