Laminate Flooring on Stairs, Pros and Cons (Installation without Nosing) +Transition

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Looking to install beautiful and durable laminate on your staircase floor? While laminate planks have been known to work well on even floor surfaces, many wonder whether they’re great for stairway flooring as well.

The answer is yes! You can easily and effectively install laminate floorboards on stairs, with or without nose stripping. Laminate can also be installed on stairs to provide a smooth and seamless transition from upper-floor or lower-floor laminate flooring.

Can you put laminate flooring on stairs?

Laminate flooring planks are increasingly becoming the go-to type of flooring for staircases. That’s because stairways are high-traffic areas, and laminate boasts decent durability to withstand wear and tear.

What’s more, laminate flooring features a design layer that can be made to mimic the look of different types of flooring. Thus, you can pick laminate flooring that matches your flooring to ensure a smooth transition from your lower floor to the stairway.

It’s important to note that most types of laminate planks have a smooth, slippery surface, thus posing the risk of slips and falls. As such, you should go for a textured laminate whose surface is rougher and provides better traction. Also, don’t forget to buy stair nose stripping to cover the front edges of your stair treads.

Finally, after you’ve purchased the laminate planks, it’s important to acclimatize them to the temperature and humidity conditions of your stairway. This helps to prevent future warping problems caused by the swelling and shrinking of the laminate. To acclimatize your laminate planks, let them sit on the staircase for at least 72 hours prior to installation.

Pros and Cons of laminate on steps

Laminate floors provide many upsides when installed on stairs. They’re easy to install, clean, and maintain. However, laminate flooring planks also have some drawbacks, such as poor noise dampening capabilities and the inability to be refurbished.

Advantage #1: Easy to Clean and Maintain

Laminate flooring is fairly easy to clean. Regular sweeping and vacuuming will keep your laminate stairs free of dirt, debris, and grime. You’ll want to avoid using highly abrasive cleaners on laminate stairs, as this will likely cause the laminate to scratch.

Advantage #2: Easy to Install

Most types of laminate flooring planks are designed to snap together in place, making installation a breeze. By following the proper installation guidelines, you can easily undertake DIY laminate installation on your stairway.

Disadvantage #1: Relatively Noisy

Compared to staircase carpeting, laminate planks are quite noisy when you walk on them. This can be a cause of discomfort for people sleeping upstairs as they walk up the stairs at night.

Disadvantage #2: Can’t be restored

Once your laminate planks suffer severe damage due to years of wear or water damage, you’ll have to replace them, as they can’t be refinished.

How to lay laminate flooring on stairs

Laminate installation on staircases is a relatively simple process that you can undertake as a DIY project. Some of the tools and supplies needed for the project include laminate planks, stair nose stripping, heavy-duty construction adhesive, pliers, a nail gun, a pry bar, a hammer, and a jigsaw. To effectively install laminate stairway flooring, follow the procedure detailed below.

Prep the Stairway

The first step to installing laminate floor planks on stairs is to prep the staircase. This involves removing any existing flooring, underlayment, paint, and adhesive.

If you have carpeting installed, use a pair of pliers to remove any nails holding the carpet in place. Meanwhile, if there are tack strips, use a pry bar and a hammer to remove them.

Finally, if the stairs have overhangs, cut them off using a jigsaw. That’s because you’ll be using laminate nosing strips to establish your own overhangs later on.

Install Underlayment

Laminate flooring can get quite noisy as you walk on the planks. To prevent this issue, install underlay material on the bare staircase to make it more soundproof. What’s more, underlayment padding will improve the underfoot feel of your laminate stairway.

Cut the Laminate Planks to Size

After installing underlay material, you can now start measuring and cutting out the laminate planks that you’ll use on your stairs. These include tread pieces, riser pieces, and stair nosings.

  1. Stair treads- cover the horizontal part of the stair steps.
  2. Stair risers- cover the vertical part of the stair steps.
  3. Stair nosing strips- form the corner pieces at the front edge of the treads. Nosings usually overlap the width of the treads to create an overhang.

Most laminate floorboards aren’t long enough to cover the span of the stairs from left to right. Thus, you may have to attach two laminate boards together by applying adhesive to the tongues and grooves before locking them in position. Then, cut the adjoined planks down to the span of the stairs from left to right.

In terms of breadth, the laminate stair treads don’t have to fit the front edge, as you’ll cover that space up with the nosing strips. You should measure and cut out the stair noses to the length of the laminate treads and risers.

Install the Laminate Tread and Riser Boards

Starting from the top of the staircase, lay down your first tread piece. Apply premium-quality wood glue to the back of the tread board before laying down the board to the horizontal part of the step and pressing it into position.

Do the same on the vertical part of the step using the riser pieces. Since it’s harder to keep riser pieces in place until the adhesive sets, you can drive a single nail through the top center part of the board.

Install the Stair Nosings

Due to the shape of nosing strips, you’ll want to apply the adhesive to the exposed subfloor at the front end of the laminate stair treads, not directly to the nosings. Then, lay the stair noses in position and press them down.

Ensure proper installation with the tapered end of the nosings forming the overhangs that protrude over the edge of the tread pieces. Finish off by driving a single screw or nail at the top of each of the nosing strips.

Fill in the Screw Holes

Finish off the job by applying filler putty into the screw holes in each stair nose. You can apply the putty using a plastic scraper. Then, level the putty using a moist piece of cloth, before leaving it to cure.

Once you’re done covering the screw/nail holes, clean off any excess debris and sawdust from the installation process. Then, leave the new laminate staircase unused overnight. This allows enough time for the laminate planks to settle and for the adhesive to set.

How to transition laminate flooring to stairs

To effectively transition laminate flooring to stairs, use laminate planks that match the color and texture of the laminate floor that’s adjacent to the stairway.

Can you install Laminate Flooring without Stair Nose

Stair nosings are usually installed at the front edge of stair treads, mainly to increase the slip resistance of the staircase. What’s more, stair nosings typically overlap the edges of the stair treads, thus providing extra foot space. Both of these functions ensure enhanced user safety, minimizing the chances of users slipping and falling down the staircase.

Despite these functionalities, some homeowners remain skeptical of the safety of stair noses. Typically, stair noses don’t lay flush with the stair treads, sometimes rising more than 30mm above the height of the stair treads. For some, that’s enough cause for concern about tripping hazards.

To prevent this issue, you can install laminate flooring on stairs without stair nosings. However, with no stair nose stripping in place, you’ll have to ensure that the laminate treads and risers cover the entire breadth of the vertical and horizontal sections of the stair steps.

How to install Laminate Flooring without Stair Nose

To effectively install laminate flooring on stairs without stair nosings, you need to ensure the laminate boards used as treads and risers are wide enough to cover the entire width of the horizontal and vertical parts of the stair steps.

You should also screw down each plank, in addition to gluing them down, to properly secure them in the absence of stair nosings. Finally, we recommend using textured laminate planks since there won’t be any nose stripping to provide added traction.

If you prefer to install smooth laminate with no surface texturing, it’s advisable to invest in clear stair covers. These transparent, plastic covers provide additional grip on the staircase without concealing the beauty of the laminate planks underneath them.

Cost of installation of laminate flooring on stairs

Laminate flooring planks are a cheap staircase flooring option. Laminate floorboards typically cost $2.00-$3.50 per square foot. Meanwhile, professional installation costs range from $15-$25 per square foot.

Take note too, that some brands sell prefabricated laminate stair treads with inbuilt stair nosings. These typically cost $12.50-$13.75 per square foot. Meanwhile, if you prefer calling in the experts over DIY installation, you’ll spend about $10-$15 per square foot in installation costs.

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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