What’s The Best Flooring Choice For Your Stairs?

July 6, 2024

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Staircases can be constructed out of a range of materials. Each of these materials has its pros and cons, which can be worth weighing. This guide delves into some of the differences between these staircase flooring materials to help you choose the right option. 

Spiral wooden staircase

Source: J Steven Kemp Architect

Best Flooring for Stairs: Carpet

Carpet makes a good staircase flooring choice for many reasons…

  • it absorbs the noisy pitter-patter of feet
  • it stays warm in the winter
  • and it’s available in an array of colors and patterns.

Open stairs with tread runner

Source: Bria Hammel Interiors

Unfortunately, carpet isn’t the easiest surface to keep clean and can develop permanent stains easily. After a decade of heavy usage, you can also expect a carpet staircase to look worn and tattered – other materials typically last longer. 

Best Flooring for Stairs: Laminate

Laminate is a mix of wood and resin. It has the appearance of natural wood, while being much easier to clean due to its synthetic top layer. Laminate is also a very cheap flooring option and is easy to install. Making it a great DIY project!

A winding stair case with warm wood tones.

The downside of laminate is that it can be quite noisy underfoot and can get slippery (especially when recently mopped).

Carpet runners can be placed over laminate stairs to combat both these issues, however you will need to keep these carpet runners clean (many are fortunately machine-washable). 


The natural appearance and feel of hardwood makes it a very attractive surface option. Hardwood stairs can often add value to a home – especially if they’re quite old.

Hardwood also stays relatively warm in cold temperatures and absorbs sound better than laminate (although squeaky floorboards can still be an issue).

Open stair case with wooden steps and black cable railings for stairs and railing trends post

Source: Dichotomy Interiors

Hardwood can be quite expensive to install and this installation process usually has to be carried out by a professional. Many homes already have hardwood stairs that are covered up with laminate or carpet, but these typically need to be smoothed and finished.

A downside of hardwood is that it requires a lot of maintenance to keep it looking good – which could include occasional waxing and sanding (although some people feel the scratches and stains add character).  

Best Flooring for Stairs: Vinyl

Vinyl can be designed to replicate many other materials including wood, tile and stone. It’s very cheap to buy and relatively easy to install. It also offers good grip, good sound absorption, insulation and a smooth surface that’s easy to clean.

Open turning staircase with a landing for hardwood stairs vs carpet post

SOURCE: Rowland + Broughton Architecture & Urban Design

What’s the downside of vinyl stairs? This material is not biodegradable and the least green material you can choose, which can put some people off. It’s also the least durable flooring material and is susceptible to scratches and tears.

That said, some forms of vinyl are more robust than others (although you’ll generally pay a premium price for these). 


Tile is a beautiful ornate option that can pair well with a hardwood or LVP hallway. Tiles come in a variety of different colors, styles and materials. They are one of the easiest flooring surfaces to clean. They may also add value to your home. 

Because tile can be quite tedious to install, you will likely need to hire a tile installation company. The cost of the tiles themselves is likely to vary depending on the size and material.

It’s worth noting that tile can…

  • get cold underfoot
  • be very noisy
  • and can be incredibly slippery.

For this reason, some people prefer to use tile solely for the risers rather than the steps. 

Best Flooring for Stairs: Stone

Stone steps are more commonly found outdoors, but they can also be a striking and luxurious indoor option. On top of adding value to your home, stone stairs will last for decades – if not centuries. Some stone materials can stain, but damage is unlikely.

The downside of stone stairs? Natural stone is very expensive and not easy to install. Stone also gets very cold underfoot – which is great in hot climates, but not so good in colder regions. On top of this, stones can get slippery, resulting in more of a fall risk.


Steel is often used when building exterior fire escapes. However, steel has also become a popular choice for interior spiral staircases and many modern styles of staircase.

An advantage of steel is that it is cheap and very durable. Steel is also very easy to clean and can be painted in different colors.

The biggest problem with steel stairs is that they are very noisy and can become slippery. The industrial look of a steel staircase is also not for everyone – such stairs tend to look better in very modern homes and can look out of place in traditional homes.

Steel railings tend to be more popular and are often contrasted with hardwood or laminate steps. 

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!


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