There are a lot of pros and cons to using laminate on stairs.
The most obvious pros include durability, maintenance and the availability of many different designs; while the cons include how slippery laminate can be, as well as the inability for laminate to be refinished.
In this article, we will guide you through the rest of the pros and cons in detail – as well as the construction of laminate flooring – so you can make an informed decision about your stairs.
What is Laminate?
Laminate flooring, whether it is used on stairs or throughout the level floor of a room, is constructed of four layers including the:
- bottom, or the back layer
The layers are fused together with high heat and intense pressure:
Bottom, Back Layer
The back layer, or bottom, protects against moisture and creates balance.
The core is durable and made of a high-density board that protects from indentations and moisture.
The design layer rests above the core and has a high-resolution surface appearance that looks like real wood.
The wear layer is the top layer and is clear, made of aluminum oxide to protect against fading, stains, or surface burns.
Laminate On Stairs: Pros and Cons
Laminate can be a very affordable and durable flooring choice. However, when it comes to deciding on extending that flooring up the stair steps, other factors come into play. For instance, stairs are considered to be a heavy traffic area receiving a great deal of wear and tear with everyday use.
Laminate on stairs can also tend to be slippery, potentially causing slips and dangerous falls, especially if you walk on them in socks or are elderly and prone to falls due to less stable footing.
Before deciding, it is important to consider the pros and cons of using laminate on stairs.
Pros of Laminate Stairs
There are many pros to selecting laminate to be used on stairs. These pros include:
Laminate is extremely durable because of the multiple layers in the construction. It tends to be resistant to scratching and fading.
Easy to Install, Clean, and Maintain
Like laminate flooring is easy to install, when the same material is used up the stairwell on the steps, it is easy to clean and maintain as well. Use either a broom or a vacuum cleaner to easily lift away and clean dirt and dust from the steps.
The laminate can also withstand a more in-depth cleaning with a damp mop or a laminate floor cleaner. The top protective layer is also resistant to scratches, dents, and stains.
High Lifetime Expectancy
Depending on the wear and tear and quality of the specific laminate you choose, the average lifespan of laminate flooring is usually anywhere from five to ten years.
Compared to real hardwood floors or stone tiles, laminate flooring is very affordable. In fact, the cost is so low in many cases that you can often afford to get a better quality laminate and still save money.
Advanced technology allows for designs and patterns to look like real wood. Some laminate even looks like oak or hickory. Others resemble stone, metal, or tiles.
Many are manufactured so well that it’s almost impossible to tell the difference from the real thing.
Cons of Laminate Stairs
There are some downsides to using laminate. The main cons include:
Won’t Withstand High Traffic Area Wear and Tear
While laminate flooring is considered to be durable, it does not tend to stand up well to wear and tear in high traffic areas, like steps.
Shorter Lifespan than Real Wood
Generally speaking, laminate flooring has a long lifespan.
However, it is going to always have a shorter lifespan than real wood. Mostly, the shorter lifespan is going to be because you cannot refinish laminate as you can wood. Once the surface wears down, it will need to be replaced.
Cannot be Refinished
Laminate flooring cannot be restored or refinished like real wood can. It cannot be sanded down. When it wears out, it will need to be replaced.
Lowers Market Value of House
If you are planning on selling the house, you may want to think twice about your choice of flooring to lay down on the steps.
Laminate tends to lower the real estate market value of a house that’s being sold. Many home buyers will select a house with real hardwood as opposed to laminate.
Laminate flooring does not stand up too well in wet areas. So, if you are using it on steps near an outdoor pool, indoor sauna, or near a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room, for instance, think again.
The particleboard core layer is damaged easily by water that seeps into the seams.
Laminate tends to have a smooth and slippery surface. While it may work well on floors, it could pose a slip and fall risk on stair steps.
For steps, you might want to choose a textured laminate with a rougher surface to provide a bit of traction.
If you use laminate on steps, it will be important to let them acclimate to the temperature and humidity level in the stairway. Let them sit for at least 72 hours before installing them.
Poor Noise Dampening
Laminate flooring has poor noise dampening capabilities. When it is used in steps, this could create a noisy problem as people climb up and down the stairway.
How to Lay Laminate on Stairs
Installing laminate flooring on staircases is easy enough to do as a DIY do-it-yourself project.
You will need the laminate flooring planks, stair nose stripping, heavy-duty construction adhesive, pliers, a nail gun, a pry bar, a hammer, and a jigsaw.
Follow these helpful tips for laying laminate on steps.
- Use laminate planks that match the color and texture of the flooring that is near the stairs
- Prepare the stairway
- Install underlay material on the bare staircase to make it more soundproof
- Cut the laminate planks to fit the steps. Remember to account for the stair treads and risers. The treads are the horizontal section. The risers are the vertical part. Often, the laminate won’t be long enough to accommodate the width of the stairs, and you will need to use two pieces.
- There are also stair nosing strips which are the corner pieces at the front edge of the treads.
Keeping these helpful tips in mind, follow this 5-step plan for using lamination steps:
- Start laying the laminate from the top of the staircase.
- Lay down the first tread piece.
- Apply wood glue to the back before laying down the horizontal planks.
- Do the same for the vertical pieces.
- Finish off by installing the stair nosing and filling in screw holes with putty.
Make an informed decision. Before deciding on what type of flooring material to use on your stairs, make sure you understand all the pros and cons of laminate and how to use it on stairways.
While laminate flooring will definitely fit many needs and offer some perks, especially when it comes to affordability and durability, there are some cons to consider as well when using laminate on steps.