Stair Flooring

There’s something about stairs that’s near magical. They give an air of suspense – what do they lead to? They increase the space of your home by giving access to another level. In turn, the value of your home increases.

There are a few catches. First and foremost, stairs have to be safe. In Canada and the US, if you have more than three steps, you must have a guard rail or wall to protect from falls. Secondly, stairways are a bit tricky when it comes to flooring them. If you don’t get it right, your stairs will look awful. But if you do ace it, your stairway is transformed into a beautiful sight.

When it comes to choosing the perfect type of flooring for your stairs, there are a few things you must consider. Some materials portray a comforting vibe, while others create a luxurious atmosphere. Let’s discover some of the most popular flooring materials for staircases.

Stairs Flooring Option #1: Solid Hardwood Flooring

Solid hardwood flooring is a great option for staircases. It is both practical and beautiful and is a universally loved staircase flooring material.

  • Creates a fantastic-looking staircase and a luxurious environment
  • Strong and durable to withstand constant foot traffic over time
  • Easy maintenance


Wood flooring brings out the mood of your home, whatever it may be. From the distressed rustic and shabby chic look to the clean and fresh aesthetics of contemporary decorating schemes, you’ll find plenty of types of woods to choose from that are perfect fits.

Always in Style

Solid hardwood has been used for flooring for centuries. It’s a timeless option in that it will never go out of style and always looks great. Some excellent choices in wood include:


Oak is the most commonly used on stairs, perhaps because it goes well with all decorating schemes and holds up nicely to all the foot traffic stairways get. Oak is available in red, gold, and white varieties.


Mahogany is a favorite for wood projects, including stairways. It is moderately durable and absolutely gorgeous. The straight-grain texture and reddish-brown coloring are perfect for setting a warm and welcoming tone.


Ash is a popular choice for stairs. It is lovely yet less expensive than some other woods. It has excellent shock-absorbency which makes it ideal for stairs. Ash sapwood is almost white so it fits well into many modern decorating schemes. Heartwood is light brown or gray which also goes good with many decors.


Cherry is a nice choice. It has a rich, natural color. There are several kinds of cherry. Black cherry (known simply as “cherry”) is used the most. Keep in mind that it does tend to get darker over age. Black cherry starts out light pinkish brown but over time will be brownish. American and Brazillian cherry woods are options too. You’ll want to be sure both coordinate with all flooring, walls, and furniture that will be seen from the stairway area.

Trends in Wooden Stairs

What’s trending in today’s solid wood flooring? A lot! Since it’s such a popular pick, you’ll see many fashion-forward styles trending today such as:

Dark Wood

Dark wood is definitely “in” which is wonderful because it goes with practically everything and works with modern, rustic, and traditional decors. It’s also nice to go dark because dirt and grease don’t show up on it like they do light woods.

Grays and Neutrals

If you haven’t noticed, cool grays are hot. From grays that are almost black to grays that are close to white, homeowners and designers can’t get enough of them. Creams, shades of white, and tans are trending too. You can find wood in those colors or bring the colors out in your wall paint, rugs, and decorating.

Patterns, Shapes, and Designs

While wood is basically not going to have patterns, you can certainly pair it with patterns on the wall, rugs, or even in the entryway. Geometric designs, chevrons, and even floral designs are fashion statements of today.

Finishing touches

Matte finishes are the going thing which is a good thing. Gloss wood finishes are much slicker and aren’t advisable for stairway flooring.

Challenges of Wood Flooring for Stairs

As great as wood is for flooring your stairs, be sure to think it through. Here are some drawbacks to using solid wood:

  • Wood and water don’t mix. If you live in a humid climate or your stairs are close to the laundry room, sauna, or you expect water and mud to get tracked in, wood flooring may not be a good idea. The wood will swell and when it goes back down, defects will be magnified and it may not fit right anymore. It can warp too.
  • Wood is slick. Unless you get a rough finish on your wood floor, it can be slick. Stairs are already a hazard, so you’ll want to consider the possibility of it being a problem, especially if you have young children or older adults in the house.
  • Working with wood is tricky. If your staircase is spiral or the construction isn’t cut and dry, you may have your hands full when going with solid wood. Some planks will bend easier than others because some wood is softer. But, the softer the wood, the more it will show scratches and scuffs.

Stairs Flooring Option #2: Carpet

Carpet flooring is another popular staircase flooring option. The staircase is one of the most injury-prone areas of the household – o carpet is your safest bet because it helps to reduce slips and falls that are more prevalent in hard flooring surfaces.

  • Cozy and comfortable feel provides a homey vibe
  • Padded material absorbs sound and dampens noise
  • Plush carpeting can reduce slips and falls and prevent injury

Choices in Stairway Carpet

Carpet is made in many different textures and styles. The material it is made out of varies too. Although most all kinds of carpet is acceptable to use on stairs, synthetic nylon carpet may be the ultimate winner in terms of safety and strength. Wool is a close contender since it repel stains quite well and resists dirt. It is more expensive though. Berber has made a big splash in the world of carpet fashion in the past decade and is another excellent choice because it is durable and easy to care for. It has short loops versus strands which makes it less of a hazard.

If you are set on carpet, when deciding which type you want to go with, here are some things to consider:

  • Durability – stairways tend to have a lot of foot traffic.
  • Price – you’ll find carpet in all price points so get the best you can afford but don’t go under trying to get a higher quality than you can afford.
  • Thickness – thicker is generally more durable but not always.
  • Quality – quality is actually more important than thickness but you’ll pay for it.
  • Soil resistance – if your stairs are going to be used, they are going to encounter soil. Be prepared.

Trends in Wooden Stairs

While you should choose carpet you like, it’s nice to know what’s trending. Although you don’t want to go too trendy if you’re planning to sell, keeping up with the most up-to-date styles will help you as long as you don’t go overboard.

Currently trending

  • Colors. Grays, neutrals, cream, light tans are hot right now. Geometric patterns and designs in all variations of colors are popular too.
  • Types. Shag carpet is back in but short carpets are also still fashion-forward. Frieze and ribbed carpet are super stylish.
  • Textures. Soft, plush carpets are the going thing. Patterns of all shapes and sizes in the texture is truly trendy.

Carpet Tips

  •  Take the floorings your carpet will touch into consideration. You probably don’t want to go with berber on the stairs and shag in the area the stairs lead to. Not only will you want to think about the texture but the color too. It is ideal for the carpet on the stairs to flow into flooring that is or looks like wood or a natural material such as stone or granite.
  • Keep area rugs on the lower level where the stairs begin to keep mud and dirt at a minimum. You may not want to have a rug at the top of the stairs because it does pose a risk for tripping and falling.
  • Portable carpet vacuums and shampooers are a lifesaver and are safer to use for cleaning than full sized ones are.

Stairs Flooring Option #3: Laminate Flooring

Not to be confused with vinyl flooring, laminate flooring is the most economical option for your staircase. What’s more, it’s also the easiest to install and maintenance. If you’re shopping on a budget and still need a practical staircase flooring solution, laminate flooring is the way to go.

What is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is comprised of a natural substance called linseed oil. The linseed oil is mixed with various other substances like melamine resin and fiber board materials which is at the core of the multiple layers. A photographic applique layer is on top under a protective layer. The photographic layer gives the flooring its look such as mimicking wood or natural materials or a design pattern.

Soho Loft

How Does Laminate Hold Up on Stairs?

Laminate is good for stairs if you are on a budget. There’s a downside as laminate can be slick when wet and is water-resistant but not waterproof. If your home holds high humidity or if there’s much risk of flooding, laminate is not a wise choice. Otherwise, you’ll find that today’s laminate is a far cry from that of your parent’s day. There are many choices you’ll have in the look and feel of it.

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