How to Install Laminate Flooring on Stairs with Stair Nose

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Laminate floors are a popular flooring option for many homeowners for several reasons – they’re cheap, durable, and easy to install. They’re also made to fit the conditions of almost any room or part of the house, including the stairs. However, placing them on the stairs requires special installation instructions.

So what’s the right way to install laminate flooring on the stairs with a stair nose? Every home renovation project should start with a clear pre-installation plan. The laminate planks are glued together and cut at the right size. The right order of installing the material on the stairs is riser first, tread next, and nosing last.

Laminate Flooring Installation on Stairs: A Detailed Guide

The flooring covering market in the country is composed of various choices like carpet, tile, and wood, but around $898 million of its total value went to laminate flooring sales in 2019. The biggest reason for this is that many American homeowners are looking for cheap yet durable flooring options to install in their house.

This flooring option usually comes as tiles or planks. They have edges that snap together, which makes them ideal for DIY home projects. The choice of laminate flooring type usually depends on the homeowner’s preference, but a laminate flooring plank is the best option for a stair landing.

Laminate flooring stair projects are more complicated than the usual wood flooring installation. Since the stair is a high-traffic area, the laminate needs extra adhesion to resist movements. Unlike regular laminate flooring that needs an underlayment, the material is directly glued to the subfloor for better adhesion. Here’s a detailed guide to help you place the flooring material the right way:

1. Plan the Project

The stair is one of the areas in a home with the most foot traffic, which is why it’s important to choose the right material for this place first. Carpeted floors might seem nice because they’re soft beneath the feet and great at minimizing noise compared to other choices. However, carpet requires extra care and maintenance especially if installed in a high-traffic place.

Other options also include vinyl plank flooring and hardwood flooring. A hardwood stair is durable, but they’re high-maintenance and expensive. Vinyl flooring is a cheap option that’s perfect for those who don’t want a wood stair, but it’s not as durable as the other stair flooring options.

A laminate floor is the best option because it provides the look and feel of a wood floor without the need for a huge budget or extensive maintenance routines. One of the biggest problems with laminate stairs is that they’re high gloss and slippery, so make sure to ask the flooring manufacturer for a textured matte finish to minimize the risk of slipping on the laminate tread.

a) Find out the amount of materials needed

Before shopping around for materials, it’s important to know about the right measurements of different stair parts first. A standard stair tread piece measures 11” long while a stair riser piece is 7”. Stairs are usually 36” wide. A staircase that has 10 treads and 11 risers needs around 47 sq. ft. of the flooring material, which means owners must prepare 3-4 boxes of laminate just for the steps.

The nosing for the stairs is a different issue because you need to find one that goes with the laminate stair. The noses are an important part because they provide continuity for the treads and risers on the edge of the stairs. Some laminate flooring manufacturers provide nosing accessories, but their laminate planks are not enough for the usual standard staircase measurements. Owners still have cut their own laminate planks for the treads and risers.

b) Let the laminate acclimate

Like the hardwood floor, a laminate plank also needs to acclimate first before the installation. Remove the planks from their packaging and put them in an open space with good air circulation for about 48 hours so that they may properly adjust to the humidity and temperature of the house. This important process prevents them from warping, contracting, and expanding later.

2. Prepare the Subfloor

Successful laminate installation depends on having a properly leveled subfloor. Placing the laminate over tile, vinyl, or carpeted stairs isn’t a good idea because carpet and tiles don’t have even surfaces. Directly gluing the material to the vinyl isn’t a viable option either because it’s extremely slippery. All these materials should be removed first before the installation.

Since the laminate installation involves gluing and nailing the material to the subfloor, the surface should provide optimal adhesion. Rough surfaces like lumber and plywood are the best choices for laminate staircases because they ensure that the material sticks properly.

3. Prepare the Laminate Floors

Installation of laminate staircase

After taking the right measurements and preparing the staircase, the next step is to prepare the laminate planks before the installation. Here’s a detailed guide to help prepare the laminate floors properly:

a) Glue two planks together

Get two laminate planks and glue them together so that it matches the width of the tread. Use a special wood glue that has a low moisture content, so that it won’t seep into the flooring material. Make sure to apply the glue to the laminate’s tongue because it  minimizes the amount of excess glue that needs to be wiped later. 

b) Measure the tread and riser

While waiting for the glue on the laminate to dry, it’s time to measure the length of each step’s riser and tread. The process for the riser is simple – just measure from the bottom of the step to its top.

The tread flushes up against the riser so remember to subtract the riser’s thickness from the tread’s width. For example, a tread’s measurement is 11 1/8” if its initial measurement is 11 ½” and the laminate’s thickness is 3/8”.

Another important thing to remember about treads is that they don’t reach the edge of the stair because a stair nosing is placed against their edge. The nose size depends on the manufacturer, but its dimensions should also be removed from the tread’s final measurement.

If a staircase also has a stair spindle, make sure to get its measurements and subtract the surface area it occupies from the laminate stair tread.

c) Cut the tread and riser

After gluing the planks together and finalizing the measurements, it’s time to cut the planks. Most staircases have uniform length and width down to the last step so it’s safe to make the cuts before installation. However, if the sizes vary per step, you need to measure each tread to get the right cut.

Use a table saw to cut the planks. Cut them according to the width first before cutting them to the right length. Fine-toothed blades are recommended for finishing cuts because they leave smooth finishes without tear-outs.

Cut the risers after the treads and make sure to remove the plank’s tongue. The edge should be flat enough so that the nose fits snugly. The bottom part of the riser should only be grooves because putting the tongue there might lead to problems later on. Lastly, cut the nose pieces to the same length as the treads and risers.

4. Install the Treads and Risers with Nails and Adhesives

Laminate boxed stairs

When installing the treads and risers, it’s important to start at the top of the staircase and work your way down. Glue the risers first using construction adhesive. They also need to be nailed or screwed down. A finishing nailer only leaves small indents on the planks, so it’s the best choice for this task. Owners may also use 2” finishing nails around the edges, but the planks should have nail holes first so it’s easy to drive them down.

Screws hold down the planks better than nails, but they need more wood filler. Whether you choose nails or screws, make sure that there are enough of them on either side of the plank. After working on the riser, install the tread next.

5. Install the Stair Nosing

A stair nosing strip made of plastic or aluminum protects the edge of the stairs if they’re not covered by a rounded edge, bullnose, or flush stair nose yet. A laminate or hardwood stair nose is important because it protects the steps from possible damage and acts as an anti-slip surface.

A stair nose molding may come in different types and shapes. It might fit into the tread and over the riser’s top, but it may also fit over the tread with a metal bracket that needs to be screwed into the subfloor.

Regardless of its installation method, the laminate stair nose is the most vulnerable to damages, so make sure to glue and nail it properly onto the floor. Some stair noses also come with special instructions so make sure to read them well before installation.

6. Finishing Touches and Cleanup

Once everything has been installed, make sure that all the nail or screw holes are filled up with putty. Clean the stairs immediately before the putty dries because this material is difficult to remove once it has set. Sweep the dust from the staircase and leave it overnight to let the new flooring settle.

High-Quality Laminate Floors and More at Zothex Flooring

Since the staircase is one of the most high-traffic areas in the house, it’s important to install high-quality laminate flooring that’s durable enough to resist movements. Here at Zothex Flooring, we offer a wide selection of laminate flooring options to match your preferences.

Our team of expert flooring artists at Zothex Flooring is constantly working to improve their craft since 2004. We want our clients to get the best flooring products for their homes, which is why we also provide flooring tips and advice to help them make informed purchasing decisions. Get in touch with us today by calling (916) 925 – 1958.

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