Ultimate Guide on the Best Flooring to Put on Stairs

Stair made of concrete or metal look unpresentable, so they are usually covered with other materials. The stars in your house should be non-slippery, easy to use and clean, and abrasion-resistant. There are different types of stair coverings other than just a carpet. Let’s look into the best flooring to put on the stairs and what their pros and cons are.

What can I use to cover my stairs? Here are the stair coverings other than carpet:

  • Laminate
  • Cork
  • Ceramic or Porcelain Tiles
  • Natural Stone
  • Wood
  • Linoleum
  • Paint

As you can see, there are many options for stair coverings other than carpet. Let’s take a look at all of them to find the best flooring to put on the stairs. Most often, different claddings are combined to create a specific design solution. For example, you can revet the steps with wood, and the fences can be made of nickel-plated balusters, or you can use forged products or use glass for this. The risers of a concrete staircase can be simply painted, and the horizontal tread surfaces can be finished with decorative stone.

What is the safest floor covering for stairs? Solid wood is the safest floor covering for stairs. Solid wood is warm, has excellent sound insulating properties, it is safe and easy to install. Solid wood is also eco-friendly and durable. Oak, larch, or beech are considered the strongest floor covering for stairs. Solid wood is also non-slippery, which makes it the safest floor coverings for stairs.

Now let’s dive into the pro and cons of all the types of floorings for stairs.

Laminate Flooring on Stairs Pros and Cons:

Laminate Flooring on Stairs Pros: 

  • Excellent sound insulating properties.
  • Aesthetics. Laminate is presented in different colors that will fit into any interior.
  • Thermal insulation. Laminate is warm and you do not need to wear slippers unless you want to.
  • Durability. With proper installation, laminate floors will last over 10 years.
  • Good wear-resistance properties. Laminate is resistant to abrasion, stress, and pressure. There are no dents and other traces of heavy objects on it, you can even move furniture with wheels if you need to take something upstairs or downstairs.
  • Eco-friendliness. Laminate does not contain toxic chemicals that harm human health, does not accumulate bacteria and dirt, is hypoallergenic, and can be used on stairs even if there are children or old people in the house.
  • Easy to clean. Unlike a carpet, laminate does not accumulate dust and can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth.
  • Affordability. Laminate is a very affordable option for your stairs.

Laminate Flooring on Stairs Cons:

  • Laminate is sensitive to high humidity. Under such conditions, the boards begin to deform, crack and exfoliate.
  • Laminate should be installed strictly on a flat surface. Even small irregularities can lead to poor quality laminate laying on the stairs.

That said, laminate is completely safe for stairs because it is non-slippery, quiet, and eco-friendly. But you must always opt for the good-quality laminate which will last. Go for classes 22 and 32.

Laminate for Stairs: Selection Criteria

When choosing laminate for finishing a staircase in a house, you should pay attention to the technical purpose of the product and its class. In this case, the class indicator indicates the wear resistance of the material. The second number in the product class marking indicates the thickness of the top lamination layer.

Laminate class 23 Laminate boards marked with 21 and 31 have low wear resistance. They can be used to decorate stairs that are rarely used. The average life of the material is 2-3 years.

Laminate with strength class 22 and 32 have an average level of wear resistance. They are designed for frequent use by a small number of people. Such a coating will last about 4-5 years.

Laminate with class 23 and 33 is among the most durable products. They can withstand the constant active use of the surface by a large number of people. The service life of such material is 5-6 years.

When choosing a finish for a staircase, you should also pay attention to the appearance of the boards and the texture of their surface. The material can be of various colors. The color scheme of the laminate should be selected by the style and colors of the room in which the staircase is installed. In this case, the material mustn’t merge with the flooring and wall decoration.

Cork on Stairs Pros and Cons:

Can you put cork flooring on stairs? Yes, you can put cork flooring on stairs because it is non-slippery, warm, pleasant to the touch, eco-friendly, has excellent sound insulating properties, and is easily maintained. Cork is a natural material that will not release any toxic substances and it also repels dust, which is indispensable for people who have allergies.

Cork on Stairs Pros:

  • Good sound insulation properties. The cork is porous, therefore it perfectly dampens sounds, cannot be compared with sufficiently “loud” laminate, and even more so with stone and tiles. However, the cork floor itself will not be able to reliably drown out the noise from the neighbors below, on the contrary, it is the residents of the floor below you that will benefit – they will no longer hear the stamping of their feet.
  • The cork floor is very warm and pleasant to the touch. You can walk on it barefoot, enjoying the pleasant sensations.
  • Ecological cleanliness. Cork is a natural material, that says it all, it can’t do any harm to anyone. And not a single tree was damaged during its production.
  • The cork flooring repels dust, so this floor is great for those who suffer from allergies.
  • The cork floor has excellent cushioning properties, which reduces the stress on your spine when walking.
  • Cork flooring can be a natural color, which many consider a very beautiful option. Moreover, the cork can also be different! If you want a different design effect, no problem. The top layer of the cork coating can be different due to tinting compounds. In addition, there is such a technique as photo printing on the floor, which allows you to create real pictures on the cork.
  • Caring for a cork floor is easy. You just need avacuum cleaner and a damp cloth.
  • The cork floor is highly resistant to slipping, so this is a perfect choice for stairs.
  • The cork oak floor is resistant to mold, mildew, and odors.
  • Usually, manufacturers give a cork floor at least 10 years of warranty, and with careful use it can last 20 years.

Cork on Stairs Cons:

  • It is believed that cork flooring is very fragile. Homeowners believe that if a regular wine cork crumbles easily, then the floor will have such a disadvantage. This is not entirely true. For example, dents from not too heavy furniture on a cork floor over time, and rather quickly, usually level out themselves.
    But if you drop a heavy object, such as a hammer, on the cork floor, the dent will remain. It is also better not to walk on stiletto heels on the cork, and something should be placed under the sharp metal legs of massive furniture. As a protection against claws of cats and dogs, hot coating is applied on top of the cork floor.
  • Some people point out that the cork is too rough, which leads to abrasion of the soles of slippers and socks. However, if you have chosen a cork floor that is warm in structure, you can walk on it barefoot all year round. In addition, a cork floor covered with special protective compounds does not turn out to be so rough at all.
  • A high price is called one of the main disadvantages of cork flooring. You can’t argue here, although, in comparison with natural parquet made of valuable wood, cork is still cheaper.

Ceramic Tiles on Stairs Pros and Cons:

Ceramic Tiles on Stairs Pros:

  • Reliability. Ceramic tiles will last for many years even if you walk on the stairs wearing heels or if you have pets.
  • Ability to quickly release heat. In other words, ceramic steps for stairs outside the building will always be cold, and warm inside.
  • Fire-resistance. Ceramic tiles on stairs will never catch fire.
  • Easy to clean. Ceramic tiles are not afraid of chemical reagents getting on the surface, with the exception of hydrogen fluoride acid.
    the low degree of water permeability allows the tile to be used in rooms with a high moisture content: bathrooms, saunas, kitchens.

Ceramic Tiles on Stairs Cons:

  • Easy to break. Ceramic tiles on the stairs may break or crack if you drop something heavy. However, ceramic tiles will not break because of high heels or pet’s claws.
  • Price. Good-quality ceramic tiles are pricey, but they last for many years which is a good investment.

Natural Stone on Stairs Pros and Cons:

Natural Stone on Stairs Pros:

Granite and marble stairs are highly regarded all over the world due to the following advantages:

  • High strength and durability. Natural stone is durable, it does not lend itself to vibrations and shocks, even with strong physical exertion, almost no chips and cracks appear on it.
  • Eco-friendliness.
  • Wear and water-resistance.
  • Ease of maintenance.
  • Aesthetics. If necessary, the staircase can become both a key and an additional element of the interior, natural stone will optimally emphasize the attractiveness of the room, if necessary, you can light up the stairs, which will give even more chic.
  • Natural diversity. Natural stone has dozens of species and hundreds of shades, which allows you to choose the most suitable option, regardless of preferences.

Natural Stone on Stairs Cons:

  • Like any other material, natural stone also has its drawbacks, the main ones being big weight and price. Therefore, during construction it is necessary to make additional calculations of the loads.
  • Lack of heat transfer. Natural stone consumes heat, but is not able to warm up its surface, therefore, the solution to the problem will be the use of carpet or special linings.

Most often, marble is used for interior stairs, as it looks elegant at home. For outdoor structures, granite is used because of its high strength. It should be noted that external stairs are not recommended to be polished to avoid slipping during winter and rain.

Stone stairs are able to withstand high loads and can serve for many years. In addition, each stair has its own unique pattern, which is characteristic only of natural materials.

During construction, balusters and railings are usually made of the same material as the steps. This allows you to create a unique ensemble that will decorate any room. Natural stone is well processed, so often the components of the stairs are real works of art.

As for the cost of stairs made of natural stone, it is always calculated individually. The price depends on the selected material, the degree of its processing, the size of the structure and other characteristics. Nowadays, thanks to modern mining and processing methods, natural materials have become available to the majority of the population.

Natural stone is distinguished by its weight, this is especially true for granite and marble. If you plan to build a stone staircase, it is important to strengthen the foundation even at the construction stage, otherwise it will sag under the weight. In the case of the construction of an element after the construction of the house, the use of wood is allowed as a frame. On top of the wood, stone plates are attached, which are much lighter than full-weight slabs.

Solid Wood Stairs Pros and Cons:

Solid Wood Stairs Pros:

  • Low cost. The cost of a wooden staircase can be limited only by the purchase of lumber.
  • Light weight. The construction of the stairs has a relatively small effect on the floor and the floor in particular.
  • Environmental friendliness. The materials for the stairs themselves are environmentally friendly.
  • Aesthetics. Solid wood stairs are always in style.
  • Quietness. 
  • Good tactile properties.
  • Easy to clean and maintain.

Solid Wood Stairs Cons:

  • Creaking. As a result of drying processes or, conversely, the accumulation of moisture, the steps inevitably begin to creak.
  • Wood is susceptible to putrefactive bacteria because it has many pores in its structure.
  • Fire hazard. The material of the stairs is capable of burning and supporting combustion.
  • Need for maintenance. It will periodically have to be treated with various protective compounds.
  • Low mechanical strength. Dents and scratches easily appear on the stairs.

Wood is a classic material for making stairs, which is very popular nowadays. The natural wood staircase is durable and beautiful, it will certainly decorate any of the most modern interiors. Oak, beech and ash are the recommended and most popular wood species.

Oak is a popular wood that is strong and durable. Oak does not rot and is not afraid of most pests. Thanks to light staining, oak reveals all the beauty of its texture. Longevity is one of its incredible qualities. Oak stairs can be safely called an impeccable choice.

Beech is not inferior in hardness to oak, but at a much cheaper price has one drawback. This tree is very hygroscopic, so fluctuations in humidity are contraindicated for it. If your house has a ventilation system and significant changes in temperature and humidity are not expected, a beech staircase will serve for many decades.

Ash is not easy to distinguish from oak, but experts know that its structure and color are more intense. It is very resistant to mechanical damage due to its hardness and toughness. Perhaps this is the most beautiful material of this trinity, moreover, in price it is slightly inferior to oak. Designers around the world most often use this particular material for the manufacture of decorative elements, furniture, stairs, doors.

You can still get closer to the ideal if you order wooden stairs made of exotic wood. There are no pores in such wood as it has passed a multi-stage professional drying system. However, it should be understood that such a staircase might cost the owner more than the house itself.

Linoleum on Stairs

Can you put linoleum on stairs? Yes, 31-32 class linoleum can be used to decorate stairs made of concrete, metal, and wood. In most cases, people only decorate the treads of the stairs, but you can also finish the stairs with linoleum entirelly. You can fix the coating with special glue, corners or strips. Linoleum is a hygienic material with good sound insulation and a wide range, allowing you to choose a look with imitation of tiles or wood. 

Painting the Stairs

Can I just paint my stairs? Yes, you can just pain the stairs. This is the easiest and the most economical way to finish concrete stairs. If it is not important for you that the staircase has a presentable appearance (for example, if it leads to the basement or to the attic), then you can simply paint the structure with water-repellent paint. It is able to protect the metal from corrosive processes, but it will not eliminate the noise of steps.

You need to level all the surfaces with a grinder and treat it with a primer. To paint the stairs, you need special materials based on polyurethane, acrylic or epoxy resin. They have an increased wear resistance index. These paints are applied to the prepared surface with a roller or brush. You need to be prepared for is to repaint the steps every 5-8 years.


I am passionate about making my home a better place and I want to share all my knowledge with you.

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