How to install laminate flooring on stairs

An image of neat staircase installed with rich wood laminate flooring, a demonstration of how to install laminate flooring on stairs Many things contribute to making you feel comfortable in your home. The floor is certainly one of those things. Therefore, when selecting the suitable flooring option for your house, the choice should be spot on.

Laminate flooring is one example of an exceptional option that won’t have you feeling contrite about your flooring decision. The debate, however, tends to revolve around how to install laminate flooring on stairs.

Installing laminate flooring on stairs is quite feasible. Pre-installation procedures like allowing for acclimatization precede actual installation. When installing, start working from the top of the stairs and begin with the tread pieces followed by the risers. Read on for this and much more and learn how to install like a pro!

Also read;

What is laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring is a synthetically produced type of floor covering composed of multiple layers fused through a process called lamination. This lamination process involves using high heat of over 3000F and intense pressure to fuse the multiple layers.

At first, the perception of laminate flooring was just another pocket-friendly option thought to be made of plastic. For this reason, other options like hardwood and vinyl plank flooring outmatched laminate flooring. This is no longer the case since advances in printing technology have seen to it that laminate flooring has transitioned to an exceptional flooring option.

Laminate flooring now gives you a taste of both the flooring competitor options. Corroborating this is traits like its commendable durability, feel, and appeal found in wood flooring topped up with minimal maintenance and moisture-proof attributes of vinyl plank flooring.

This germane flooring option usually imitates wood (at times stone). Laminate flooring excels in simulating almost all types of flooring. In contrast to the ingrained perception in many individuals, laminate flooring is not made of plastic. It is a composite flooring product characterized by several layers.

To help you get to grips with its construct, let’s have a look at the various layers of laminate flooring, which include; (this array sorts the layers from the top)

1. Wear layer

This is the topmost layer characterized by extreme toughness to provide protection from routine use. Most brands craft this layer with aluminum oxide. This layer appears as a hard-wearing clear layer fabricated with two thin sheets of paper infused with melamine.

The construct of this layer makes it withstand heavy traffic and other abusing factors like UV rays, gouges, burns, stains, and scratches. The thickness of the wear layer varies across different laminate floors. The quality of the wear layer forms a difference in how long your floor will retain the “new” appeal. However, the wear is remarkably durable.

2. Image layer

The image layer, otherwise known as the design or photographic layer, comes second in this hierarchy. This design layer is responsible for the surface appearance of laminate floors. It bears a printed high-resolution image giving your laminate floor a realistic look. In most cases, this image simulates wood that is visible beneath the wear layer.

3. Core layer

Just below the design layer is a core layer, also known as the base layer. It is the thickest layer normally made of plywood or from either medium-density or high-density fiberboard impregnated with melamine resin. This baselayer contributes to offering durability and protection from moisture and indentations.

Depending on the manufacturer, some types of laminate products have an additional layer, called the backing layer. This layer aims to serve as an underlayment just below the core to amplify soundproof and waterproof traits. This is because the core layer of laminate floors tends to withstand water up to a certain extent.

Can you put laminate on stairs?

Yes, you can. It is very much possible to install laminate flooring on stairs provided that you consider some specifications. For instance, purchasing the toughest (thickest) laminate flooring product is necessary since stairs are more likely to experience wear and tear in contrast to other surfaces.

Laminate is a pretty versatile flooring option that even supports installation on floors. However, laminate installation on stairs can be a bit complex rather than when installed on floors. Described below are some of the other specifications you ought to take into account before putting laminate on stairs. They revolve around the preparation of the laminate flooring and include;

a) Choosing the suitable laminate flooring

Other than settling for the toughest laminate, you will also need to purchase laminate flooring with an extra of about 10%. This is considered an excellent margin that will accommodate any arising errors or unprecedented requirements.

You might want to settle for laminate with a textured matte finish if you have kids rather than the usual high-gloss finish. Also, request a matching nose stripping on the laminate flooring you are purchasing.

b) Allow for acclimatization

This is the period given to newly purchased laminate flooring to allow it to adapt and adjust to the room humidity and temperature. All you need to do is free the boards from their wrappings and placing them in a well-ventilated space in your house for about 48 hours.

c) Trimming the laminate to shape

This specification requires you to trim the stair nosing, riser pieces, and tread pieces to length. This is because most laminate flooring is not available with pieces fitting the typical riser length or tread length of stairs. This will then require you to execute lengthwise cuts of the pieces to fit into the treads and the risers.

How to install laminate flooring on stairs

The ease of installation of laminate flooring has led to it growing in popularity. DIY enthusiasts can successfully install laminate flooring on their own. First, let’s analyze some of the tools you will require for the installation process.

Tools needed;

  • Construction adhesive
  • Measuring tape ad level
  • Table saw.
  • Impact driver/screws for treads, risers, and nosing (depends on the manufacturer).
  • A saw. You can use a power jigsaw, a milter saw with a fine blade, a circular saw with a 60-tooth carbide-tipped blade, a power saw fitted with a dust collector or a handsaw,
  • Hammer and 6d nails.
  • Stair nose moldings.
  • Safety glasses, a broom and dustpan, and a dust mask.

With that out of the way, let’s now focus on the actual laminate flooring installation process. Remember to consider the discussed specifications which precede the installation process. Below is a stepwise guide that you can follow.

  1. Pre-installation procedures

a. Choose the correct laminate flooring.

b. Allow for acclimatization

c. Removal of any tack strip and carpet

This procedure is essential for homeowners who already have carpet installed in their staircase. You will need to remove the carpet from the stairs before laying down the laminate. The carpet is usually adhered to the ground by staples, tack strip, or both.

You can employ pliers to pull the carpet from the stairs. Use a prybar to get rid of the tack strip and a scraper to remove the staples. Remember to put on gloves while removing these materials to protect yourself from injury.

d. Removal of any overhang

To achieve a sleek finish after laying the laminate, you will need to remove any preexisting overhang. The overhang is the tread extension (nosing underside) that is noticeable from the bottom of the staircase. Here are the methods to remove any overhang;

  • Pad the riser using plywood and fill the space beneath the overhang. This method will require you to screw the plywood in position prior to laminate installation.
  • Use a jigsaw or reciprocating saw to cut the overhang off, then clip the surface with a chisel to ensure that it aligns with the riser.

e. Trimming the laminate to shape

  1. Preparation of the subfloor

Just as it is essential to prep the subfloor properly before installing laminate on floors, it is also of vital importance to ensure the subfloor is in the right condition at the steps. The prepping process basically means ensuring that the subfloor on your stairs is uniform.

This step involves sanding down high spots using a belt sander and removing any debris using a scraper. This will help you achieve a level subfloor so that the laminate flooring will sit fittingly.

Here are some crucial concerns. Although laminate flooring is installable on an existing floor, it is not recommendable to follow this. Often, your existing vinyl or tile floor will be an uneven surface to put laminate flooring and may result in movement or bending of the laminate. In addition, such existing floors tend to be smooth and therefore alter with the adhesion of laminate.

  1. Gluing together laminate planks

Since the width of one laminate plank will not be equal to the width of the riser or the tread, you will need to glue several pieces of laminate planks together. Usually, gluing two laminate planks together tends to fit the width of the tread properly.

However, if you are dealing with narrower planks, you will need to glue three or more pieces together. The baseline here is that the number of laminate planks you should glue together has to be enough to fit the width of the tread.

  1. Installation of the laminate

It is recommendable to start the installation at the top of the stairs and then proceed downwards. Working your way up the stairs will not only have you confined upstairs after the installation is complete but also force you to step on the newly installed laminate while at it.

Before discussing how you can carry out the installation, a breakdown of the commonly used terms is necessary. They include;

  • The stringer – this is the part on either side of the stairs, also referred to as the ‘stringer board’ or the ‘string.’
  • The tread – this refers to the step, the horizontal part of a stair that you walk on.
  • The stair nose – this is the meeting point for the tread and riser. It protrudes beyond the riser and is purposed to boost the general safety of the staircase. It conceals the edges of the flooring hence augmenting safety.
  • The riser – this is the vertical part found from the tread to the stair nosing.

Without any further ado, let’s have a look at how you put laminate flooring on stairs. Below are the installation steps and are as follows;

I. Set the tread pieces in place

Start by applying premium wood glue to the subfloor in three beads. You ought to be careful with the application so as not to apply wood glue on the edge portion where the stair nosing will go later.

Remember the laminate planks you had glued together earlier? Install them steadily with the tongue edge facing outwards onto the tread. Use a damp cloth to instantly wipe off any glue that squeezes to the nosing area or onto the planks.

II. Set the risers in place

The installation of the risers is similar to that of the tread pieces, only that you will carry it out in a vertical manner. Hold the plank strongly for about a minute to allow the glue to set. You can use a nail gun to boost the placement of the riser piece by nailing the topmost part of the plank.

III. Set the stair nosing

You had earlier left a nosing area when installing the tread pieces, right? Take construction glue and apply it in a bead in this area. Install the nosing by firmly pressing it on the area with glue. Make sure that the tapered end overlaps the tread piece. You can also opt to boost the placement of the nosing by screwing its top into place.

IV. Wrapping up the installation

You can choose to install all the treads and risers first, followed by nosing installation. Alternatively, you can opt to complete each stair fully before proceeding to the next. Either of the methods is practicable.

You will need to deal with the exposed screw holes in the stair nosing. Working your way from the top of the stairs, fill all the screw holes in with matching putty. Wait for about 20-30 minutes, and then even out the putty on each screw using a cloth dampened with acetone or water. Also, remember to wipe the extra putty off.

Here is the last step. To achieve a polished finish, you will need to get rid of fallen bits of putty by cleaning. Cleaning immediately is important because getting rid of putty once it dries can be very difficult. Sweep any sawdust present away. Leave the freshly installed stairs at least overnight, and then you are good to go.

What are the disadvantages of laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring has, over the years, established its prominence as one of the most reliable flooring options. It prides itself in ease of installation, remarkable durability, captivating appearance, and low maintenance, among other meritorious traits. However, having such laudable benefits does not mean that this flooring option lacks some downsides. Laminate flooring also has its drawbacks which include;

i) Difficult to repair

When laminate flooring succumbs to damages such as deep scratches and grooves or a portion of it gets seriously worn out, reparation of such parts is almost impossible. Laminate does not support sanding or refinishing and therefore forces you to do a replacement.

ii) Noise producing property

Laminate flooring tends to produce unwelcome sounds when walked on, especially if underlayment was not part of the installation. The rigid property of laminate floors also contributes to noise production, which tends to be a disturbance for many homeowners.

iii) Susceptibility to moisture

Despite being indicated as a durable flooring option, exposure to excess moisture has a damaging effect on laminate. It only holds out well in areas not subjected to high moisture because exposure to excess water may result in peeling or buckling of the laminate. The damage occurs when the base of the laminate floor swells up. The only way to correct such damage is through replacement.

iv) Installation concerns

Despite being highlighted as a flooring option that is super easy to install, there is more to it than gluing and pressing the planks down. To obtain a professional finish, you will need to pay more attention when installing to be accurate. You should also be ready to dedicate your time to this project because it is quite a labor-intensive job that needs a lot of patience.

v) Temperature susceptibility

Unprecedented temperature decrements in your home will have a negative effect on laminate. Cold temperatures tend to cause laminate planks to contract hence creating spaces between the grooves.

vi) Not so eco-friendly

Laminate flooring can emit some chemical substances like volatile organic compounds, which degrade the environment. Laminate also contains formaldehyde which is considered a dangerous chemical compound.

How to Install Laminate Flooring on Stairs with a Railing

A seamless laminate flooring finish is the end goal, even if your staircase has a banister railing. Installation of laminate flooring around a banister railing can be a bit different from installing laminate on the steps.

Below are the tools you need to help you accomplish the installation.

  • Padding,
  • A scrap piece of wood
  • An oscillating saw
  • A chisel and hammer
  • Picking tools.

Start by placing the padding down your scrap piece of wood on the edge of the soleplate. Make undercuts to the soleplate using an oscillating saw to create space beneath with a thickness corresponding to the scrap piece of wood.

The cutting depth should be about 5/8 inches. This should create a space that will accommodate about 1/8″ of the plank and still leave a space between the edge of the plank and the soleplate’s interior edge.

Make the undercuts all the way down the soleplate of the banister railing. Once you are through, you will need to split the cut soleplate wood open. Wedge a chisel in, then hammer it in every six to eight inches gently to split the wood open.

Employ a picking tool (especially the one with a right angle) to reach and pull out the split wood. In case the split wood gets stubborn, use a flathead screwdriver to set it loose. Keep slipping the scrap piece of wood into the created space to determine if you have achieved the desired cutting depth while removing the split wood.

Install the laminate flooring accordingly once you have created the desired space on the banister railing’s soleplate. Installing the shoe molding is the final step in order to conceal any unevenness between the baseboards and the flooring.

Best Glue for Laminate Flooring on stairs

It is clear that the installation process of laminate flooring on stairs mostly adopts the stick-down style. This means that glue is one of the most central components needed for installation. You will need glue to adhere a couple of laminate pieces together.

Also, the application of glue to the subfloor takes place before laying the laminate planks down. For this reason, you need top-quality glue for optimal results. What are some of the best glue suitable for installing laminate flooring on stairs?

When gluing laminate planks together, use high-quality wood glue such as PVA type II. This glue is suitable because of the low moisture content it has compared to usual wood glue. This trait makes PVA type II glue an excellent adhesive that creates strong bonds without seeping into the laminate. Use a premium quality construction adhesive to install the treads and risers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is laminate on stairs slippery?

Laminate flooring on stairs can be a bit slippery. However, you can settle for textured laminate flooring, especially if you have kids or if the stairs stand as a high-traffic area. Alternately, employing coarse-grained strips that are self-adherent to the surface is known to reduce the slipperiness. Mostly, laminate flooring is available in the high-gloss finish that tends to be slippery. Use laminated with exceptional quality and certified ratings to counter this issue.

Is it cheaper to carpet or laminate floor?

Generally, opting to carpet your floor is a bit cost-effective compared to laminating your floor. The cost of carpet flooring and its installation is quite cheaper when compared to laminate flooring. Carpet flooring is ideal when you’re working with a tight budget. However, in terms of durability, laminate flooring excels with a lifespan that is almost double that of the average carpet, explaining why it probably has a higher price.

Where should you not use laminate flooring?

You should not install laminate flooring in areas that are subject to high moisture levels. Moisture affects the base layer of laminate and makes it swell up. It would then be a great inconvenience to replace the entire floor to correct the damage from moisture. You have to take into account the necessary precautions like setting a moisture barrier when installing laminate flooring in areas like kitchens and bathrooms. However, laminate is generally not recommendable for areas prone to excess water.

Is vinegar good for laminate floors?

Vinegar is an ideal substitute for other cleaning detergents and chemicals. This is because it is gentle to the floor, making it a safe option for cleaning laminate floors. The only requirement is to use dilute vinegar. You can dilute it by mixing a cup of vinegar with warm water. Vinegar will even help you cut on costs that you’d incur in other cleaning products.

Is dawn dish soap safe for laminate floors?

Normally, warm water is enough to clean laminate floors. When you desire deeper cleaning of your laminate floors, you can employ dawn dish soap. However, the use of special cleaners, soap, or detergents is not a sought option because of the tendency of such reagents to form stubborn residues that can be hard to rinse off.

Can Pine sol be used on laminate floors?

Pine sol floor cleaner is an excellent option for cleaning laminate floors. You can easily clear off the dirt by pouring pine sol on an old toothbrush and gently scrubbing the floor or by using a sponge soaked with pine sol. If you are dealing with stubborn liquids like juice, stains, soap suds, or soap, using pine sol on the sticky residue will do the trick.

How much does it cost to install laminate flooring on stairs? 

When glues and a compulsory foam underlay 4 are in the picture, you will incur about $2 to $8 on average to install laminate per square foot. It ranges between $60 to $100 per stair for the installation cost. You can also look at the costs in respect of laminate plank prices, whereby it ranges between$8 to $14 for a single stair.


If you want to achieve a burnished look for your living room, entryway, hallway, and even stairs, laminate flooring is incontrovertibly the way to go. What’s even better is the dependability this type of flooring conveys through its commendable durability trait.

There are other laminate floors fabricated with antimicrobial resin as one of the components to help ameliorate hygiene. Interesting, right? One attribute that makes laminate flooring preferable is its ease of installation.

However, installing laminate on stairs tends to be a bit tricky. You have to carry out the installation process rigorously and with no hurry for an impressive end result. This article provides you with thorough details on how you can navigate the installation of laminate flooring on staircases. Follow this guide for a scrupulous and desired finish.









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