Choices of Flooring

Hardwood flooring for stairs

by Roy Akirov
December, 2019

When choosing the right flooring for your stairs, there is a wide array of options that offer different benefits to different households. From solid wood to engineered wood flooring options, each offers a different visual effect and function. Hardwood is an effective and popular choice for staircases, this article explores why, including helping you consider options such as American oak vs European oak.

What is the best flooring to put on stairs?

Before deciding on hardwood for your staircase, it is important to consider the range of flooring options available and your household’s individual needs.

When a high-quality wooden staircase is professionally fitted, it can be a stunning feature in any home. If you already have wooden flooring in your hallway, continuing the wooden theme to the stairs can add to the flow of your house. However, wooden floors come with a certain amount of slip compared to other options, such as carpet. Depending on the nature of your family, this can be a potential hazard. If you have children, pets and elderly members of your family, wooden staircases may not be the best flooring option. You could still enjoy the classic look of hardwood stairs with the addition of a stair runner or rug that is correctly fitted to eradicate slippiness, increasing grip and softness underfoot.

Hardwood vs softwood

Decide the right type of wood flooring for your stairs by considering the end result – how it will look, feel and last. When it comes to wood, make an informed decision between hardwood and softwood. Both woods come with different features and benefits that will affect the end results of your staircase.

Unlike the name suggests, hardwood is not necessarily harder than softwood. It is, however, denser, stronger and more durable. Hardwood comes from deciduous trees such as Oak, Ash and Walnut, which are all great hardwood options for staircases. These woods are popular choices for stairs due to their eye-catching appearance, strength and durability. Hardwood is also easier to clean, making it a lower maintenance option. Hardwood stairs are a great investment for any household, they are wear-resistant and will last. These woods can easily be used in conjunction with a natural varnish, stain or painted finish.

Oak is a tough hardwood with a tiger-stripe grain that has been used for centuries in construction. It gives a traditional appearance to a staircase, ideal for period looks or an impressive focal point in the home. Not all oaks are the same.

American Oak vs European Oak

When it comes to American oak vs European oak, there are some integral differences you may want to consider. European oak hardness is generally higher than the alternative with a tighter grain. European oak timber is darker in tone with a rich honey hue, where American white oak is lighter with yellow and pink hues. European oak also has a wavy and interesting grain pattern in comparison to wood from the American oak tree which has a relatively straight grain pattern.
Ash is another strong hardwood, it has a close grain which makes it great for holding nails and screws. This wood is easily stained but also looks great with a clear varnish that lets its beautiful natural patterns shine through.

European oak tree, also known as white oak, or  common oak

European oak tree, also known as white oak, or common oak

Can I put laminate flooring on stairs?

Laminate flooring for a staircase is a great option if you already have laminate flooring in your hallway and want to extend it to your staircase. Installing laminate stairs is an entirely different process to installing laminate floors and the stairs will need nosing to work.
Although a more budget-friendly option, laminate flooring lacks the durability and classic appearance of a wooden staircase.

How much does it cost to put hardwood on stairs?

Hardwood is often more expensive than softwood due to the effort and work that goes into it. Hardwood takes more time to grow and can only be cultivated in certain locations, whereas softwoods like Pine are more adaptable. Hardwood also takes longer to dry and is harder to work with. While this is a more expensive wood, it is also a valuable investment due to its wear-resistant nature.

How do you put hardwood on stairs?

Wood flooring is relatively easy to fit to a staircase. Engineered boards will fit over your existing stairs, requiring a nosing that matches the floor. A nosing is an edging that fits over the protruding section of each step, giving the wooden stairs a more finished appearance. However, with solid wood floors, a skilled professional can work with each board to create an integrated nosing, eradicating the need for a pre-fabricated nosing.

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