What are the Best Options to Cover a Staircase Safely?

Choosing the covering for stairs is easy when you have an expert helping you, but for first-timers it can be slightly overwhelming – so, not as easy as you might think. This is why, at Stairnation, you can get a lot of advice during the decision-making process and use a free online planning tool. 

Many consider doing stairs in the same material as the flooring in the entrance way, while others decide on a contrasting material and color. However, there are other factors that should be taken into consideration and include: type of staircase, cleaning, maintenance and safety. 

Falls in the home are common and besides choosing an aesthetically pleasing stair covering, safety, lifestyle and the existing or planned décor should be taken into consideration. 

Best Options for a Closed Staircase

A closed or traditional staircase has a wall to the one side and a balustrade attached to the risers on the other. The coverings for these types of stairs cannot be made from thin materials like laminate, bamboo or hardwood planks because they work on a click-an-lock principle that need to fit together in single strips. That means they cannot be cut to accommodate their fit around a post. However, solid bamboo and hardwood planks that are wide can be used on traditional risers. 

For those wanting a look of luxury without forking out a fortune, Douglas fir stained to the preferred color is also an excellent choice. 

On the other hand, that looking for an eco-friendly and allergen free material, cork is an excellent choice. It also does away with the need for an extra non-slip material, like carpets or treads. 

Best Options for an Open Staircase

 Due to the balustrade on both sides of an open staircase, once again, thin click-and lock floors cannot be used for the risers. The material used needs to be in one wide plank that will cover the entire stair. Once again, bamboo and hardwoods are a good choice because off their bright color and clean look. Cork products are also an option. 

Best Options for a Curved Staircase 

In a curved staircase, each riser will have a different width and the shape will differ according to the curve. Therefore, the material to be used to cut out each one will have to be wide enough to be cut in a single piece. Most homeowners today steer clear from carpeting and vinyl, preferring natural and sustainable materials. These are usually wide hardwood planks, bamboo and cork. 

Other Material Options

For maximum durability and low maintenance, tiles and natural stone are available in a huge variety of colors and texture for covering risers. These materials, however, are not very soft on falls and they can be quite noisy. The home also tends to have a much colder feel. Smooth glazed tiles should definitely be avoided as they can be very slippery, even more so when wet. The rougher the tile or stone the better the grip or tread will be on them. 

Combining materials

Using a combination of materials can create a dramatic and interesting effect. Solid wooden treads can be combined with stone or tile on the risers. Similar combinations can be designed to ensure durability and safety. 

Staircase Safety

Safety of the residents should be the first consideration when staircase covers are chosen. One of the safest materials to use is cork as it has a non-slip surface, even when wet. Hardwood, laminate and bamboo can be slippery but this can be prevented by laying a carpet or placing non-slip treads on risers. 

Staircase Maintenance

Carpets may be soft and quiet on staircases but they are not easy to keep clean and they do trap allergens. Cleaning these entails carrying a vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs a few times a week, and a rug shampooer at least a couple of times a year, or more if spills occur.  Carpets also cannot withstand heavy traffic and will need to be replaced once in a while. 

On the other hand, hardwood, laminate, bamboo and cork covered stairs are easier to keep clean but they do much better on wear and tear in areas where a lot of feet tread in a day. These types of coverings don’t need a vacuum cleaner and it’s much easier to wipe or sweep them clean. They are not too tolerant to spills, especially cork, which must be wiped away immediately. 

Cost of Covering a Staircase

This will always depend on the quality of the materials and also on the quantity needed to do the entire staircase. Installation costs must also be taken into consideration and it’s always better to opt for a professional to do the job. This ensures that the materials are cut and fitted together perfectly and safely.

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