The reasons to want a hardwood floor in general are pretty clear. In addition to being beautiful and adding value to a home, hardwood floors are relatively easy to clean.
If a house has hardwood floors, it makes perfect sense for said floor to extend to the stairs. Most homeowners — and just about anyone, for that matter — can see the logic in having floors match throughout the house. Essentially, stairs are just a specialized part of the floor, right?
However, we all know that hardwood floors can be slippery. Anyone who's attempted a race on a newly polished floor while wearing socks can attest to that.
So the question is, can you put hardwood flooring on stairs? Simply put: Yes, you can, as long as you find a way to make them less slippery.
In this guide, you'll learn the reasons wooden stairs are an excellent choice, and how you can make them less slippery and safe.
Why You Should Install Hardwood Floors on Stairs
There are plenty of reasons to make your stairs hardwood. The following are a few of the most salient points:
Hardwood floors are a popular flooring material due to their natural beauty, owing to the wood's natural grain colors and patterns. Their sense of style is unbeaten and always inviting.
When the surface scratches or wears out, the wood can be refinished to look new and beautiful again.
Matching your wood floors and stairs is simply the correct decision aesthetically. It may look odd or incongruent when you have different flooring materials in your home.
Extending the warmth of your wooden floors to the stairs makes sense both logically and stylistically.
Hardwood floors are easier to clean and maintain than carpeting or any other type of floorings.
It is impossible for dirt, dust, and allergens to stick to a wooden surface as opposed to carpeting, which acts like a sponge.
Additionally, dirt and other debris such as pet hair can simply be cleaned by sweeping or dusting with a dry mop.
Nothing beats wooden flooring in terms of durability. Wood can last for decades without changing its in-depth color or texture.
Hardwood flooring will serve best for stairs with high traffic as compared to other materials. Unlike carpeting and vinyl, hardwood floors can be refinished during an upgrade without needing to be replaced.
There are also different varieties of hardwoods to choose from, ranging from various species, styles, colors, and stains. You can choose from engineered, solid, prefinished, or unfinished hardwood floors for your home depending on your preferences.
Species such as Hickory, Maple, and Oak are among the toughest.
Installation of a hardwood floor increases the value of your property. It can attract a great resale value in the future and you are guaranteed high returns on your investment.
For that reason, many homeowners consider the installation of hardwood floors in the kitchen, bathrooms, stairs and any other applicable areas to be a solid investment.
Hardwood floors create a healthy indoor environment due to their ease of cleaning, inability to attract allergens, and non-toxic nature.
They can also be disinfected to eliminate dangerous microorganisms. Carpets attract allergens such as pet hair, dust, and pollen, which may cause allergic reactions.
How to Make Hardwood Stairs Less Slippery
Safety is a major concern when installing hardwood flooring on stairs.
A finished or polished surface of a stair tread is very slippery and dangerous to walk on. However, there are plenty of ways to make your wooden stairs less slippery.
They include the following:
Installation of a carpet makes stairs safer by adding traction to the surface. Carpets are also warm and beautiful, and thus will add a degree of coziness to your home.
There are two options of carpeting your stairs: namely, stair runners and carpet stair treads.
These are pieces of carpet that don't cover the entire width of the stair. They are commonly installed over hardwood or tiled floors to prevent slipping.
Stair runners exist in various colors, patterns, shapes and sizes you can choose from. Stair runners are meant to cover the full depth of each stair tread.
In addition to making stairs less slippery, they protect wood from damage, reduce noise, and add coziness.
Stair runners present some downsides, however. For example, they can be difficult to clean when they are extremely dirty.
There is also the possibility of trapping dust, dirt, and allergens. Some people find them complicated to install but that can be handled by a professional.
Carpet Stair Treads
These are pieces of carpet that can be installed individually on each stair to prevent slipping.
They can be installed using carpet tape or on top of a non-skid rug pad to keep them firmly attached.
Carpet stair treads are cheaper and easier to maintain than stair runners. They can be washed individually when dirty.
Carpet stair treads do come with some disadvantages. For example, they don’t offer complete protection to the wood. Furthermore, if incorrectly installed, they can slide and cause falling.
Low pile carpet is the best choice for both stair runners and carpet stair treads.
High pile carpet can cause tripping and can also be difficult to clean.
Installation of both types of stair carpets has to be done correctly to avoid sliding or bunching up.
Anti-Slip Adhesive Stair Treads
Clear anti-slip treads can be used in your home to prevent slippery stairs.
One side contains an adhesive substance that makes them stick on the stair tread while the other side offers traction.
They are easy to install: All you do is to remove a paper on them and roll them from one side of the stair to the other.
There are, of course, a few disadvantages with adhesive stair treads. During installation, the roller may not completely get rid of the air bubbles, especially when the wood surface is uneven.
Secondly, removing them is a challenge: They may leave a residue behind or peel off paint from the wood.
Anti-slip floor finish
This is a clear, textured coating that can be applied on the stairs to create a non-slip surface.
The finish does not alter the exact look or the beauty of the hardwood floor. It is the best option if you don’t want to hide your wood under a carpet.
There are a few disadvantages of using this method. The finish may wear down after few years, and you will have to refinish again.
Secondly, it doesn’t offer as much traction as carpeting and anti-slip adhesive stair treads.
Standard stair code
There are recommended standards a stair should meet to qualify as safe. The stair should be strong, with enough depth.
The distance between each stair must also be appropriate and not too far apart. According to the current code, your stairs should meet the following dimensions to be considered safe:
- Width: The distance between the two walls bounding a stair should be at least 36 inches wide.
- Riser height: This is the distance between two stair surfaces. The stair riser height should not be more than 7 ¾ inches tall and be almost the same for all stairs.
- Tread depth: The distance from the front to back of each tread should be at least be 10 inches. However, the greatest tread depth should not exceed the smallest one by 3/8 of an inch.
- Headroom: The distance should always be greater than 6 feet and 8 inches
- Handrails: Every staircase must contain at least one installed handrail. The rails should be at least 34 inches and at most 38 inches from the landing of each stair. Additionally, they should not stick out more than 4.5 inches from the wall.
Promptly fix squeaky hardwood flooring on stairs to make them strong. Clean to remove dirt and mop out any spills that may make the wooden stairs slippery.
Carpeting attracts dust and allergens, so it is important to vacuum them frequently.
The Bottom Line
Installation or remodeling of wooden stairs should be done by a professional contractor.
Depending on your preferences, you will find stair treads in various species such as Hickory, Red Oak, White Oak, African mahogany, American Cherry, Maple, Brazilian Cherry, and more.
Above all, safety is the most important factor to consider. Nobody wants to fall down the stairs, so make sure your stairs provide as much traction as possible.