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How much does it cost to install hardwood stairs? (and if they are right for your home!)

“Always pick your yard based on your Summer lifetstyle.”


December 10, 2018 - Karl Yeh

Planning to install hardwood stairs in your home? How much do they cost? Are they durable? In this episode, we discuss hardwood stairs installation costs, durability and how slippery are they. We also explore if they are ideal for homes with pets and if they are waterproof.  

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Karl Yeh:

Hi, everyone. I'm Karl Yeh and welcome to another Homebuyer's School video, a channel where you get the latest strategies, tactics, and tips from homebuying experts. And remember, if this is your first time on this channel, and you want to get the latest strategies from the experts, hit the subscription button below. Hit the little notification bell so you don't miss anything.

So today I'm joined by Deborah Armstrong, Senior Interior Designer with Brookfield Residential, and we're going to talk about hardwood stairs today.

So, Deborah, first of all:

How much does it cost to install hardwood stairs?

Deborah Armstrong:          It's not cheap, Karl.

Karl Yeh:           Yeah.

Deborah Armstrong:         

It's not, but a lot of people really like the look of it.

You're looking, with labor and again depending on the hardwood that you choose, anywhere from $100 to $200 per step.

Karl Yeh:           Per step?

Deborah Armstrong:           Yeah.

Karl Yeh:           So if I have eight steps, that's $800?

Deborah Armstrong:            That's correct.

Karl Yeh:          

Right. And is it any type of hardwood? Obviously, the price goes up with the type of hardwood.

Deborah Armstrong:          

Exactly. There's all different types of hardwood out there, but generally a broad range, anywhere you can estimate.

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How to install hardwood stairs?

Karl Yeh:          

I guess really a simple question is how do you put hardwood on stairs? Do you take out the entire stair that you already have and put the hardwood in, or do you put it on top?

Deborah Armstrong:          Yeah, you put it on top.

Karl Yeh:           Yeah.

Deborah Armstrong:         

So your stairs is already there. It's usually plywood based. It's built by the stair manufacturer. And then either yourself or your hardwood supplier would come in and install the hardwood, and they would nail it and glue it.

Karl Yeh:           Okay.

Deborah Armstrong:        

It usually has a little bull nose of solid wood in the front that's rounded in most cases. Sometimes they're square now for a more contemporary look.

Karl Yeh:         

How durable are these stairs?

Because obviously everybody uses them.

Deborah Armstrong:         

They're very durable, more durable than carpet. They don't get a wear pattern like carpet would or a crushing like a carpet would.

A lot of people tend to think that they want the hardwood because they're not going to have that carpet that [inaudible] out after a few years.

Are hardwood stairs slippery?

Karl Yeh:          

The funny thing though is ... maybe not so funny, but wouldn't there be a lot more slippage?

Deborah Armstrong:   

Absolutely. Hardwood is very, very slippery. I personally don't recommend it if there's young children in the home, lots of pets that run up and down the stairs, elderly.

If you're not holding on to the stairs correctly, it's so easy with sock feet just to slip down those stairs, and there's nothing going to stop you.

Karl Yeh:          

Yeah. Oh, and speaking of pets, so hardwood's like any type of hardwood, right?

Deborah Armstrong:        Yes.

Karl Yeh:          

And remember if you want to know more about our videos on engineered versus solid hardwood, take a look at our video above.

In terms of pets,

Is it durable in terms of you've got like cats or dogs running up and down?

Deborah Armstrong:         Yeah.

Karl Yeh:           Will you see those scratch marks?

Deborah Armstrong:        

Yes, you can.

If you've got a big dog that feels like he's slipping and he's really digging in as he's going up and down, yes, you're going to see those scratches on the stairs for sure.

Carpet Runner

Karl Yeh:           Now, I've seen people put ... I don't know what you call those.

Deborah Armstrong:       Carpet runner?

Karl Yeh:           Yeah.

Deborah Armstrong:        

Yes. People do because maybe they like the look of hardwood. It's a little slippery, so they'll run a carpet all the way up in the center and leave a bit of the hardwood on the side.

Yes, people do that.

Some people think that it might be cheaper if they're doing an install themselves, just to add a little bit of hardwood on the side of the stairs to make it look like they're hardwood and then have carpet inlaid.

But for the labor that that costs, you might as well put the hardwood all the way across and put your carpet runner down.

Karl Yeh:          

So it's more expensive to put the carpet and then the hardwood on the side?

Deborah:          Yeah. Labor-wise, it's easier probably just to put the hardwood all the way across.

Karl Yeh:          

Is there anything that you can do to make the hardwood less slippery?


There is a product out there, but it changes the color of the wood. It makes it a little more milky, but it's a non-slip type of, I guess, sealer that you can put on the stairs. It helps a little bit.

The only thing that that is, it attracts the dust.

And things like that because, of course, it's got that little bit of a sticky, rubbery feel, so that's another contender that you're going to have to look into.

Are hardwood stairs waterproof

Karl Yeh:           And how often ... First of all, is it waterproof?

Deborah Armstrong:         Hardwood stairs are not waterproof.

Karl Yeh:           Oh, okay.

Deborah Armstrong:      

The only way you're going to have a waterproof is if you're going to use an LVP product.      

A luxury vinyl plank, which is pure vinyl. No, you're going to treat it the exact same way as you would do your hardwood floor.

Karl Yeh:          

Okay. And how often do you need to treat it? Well, I guess for the amount of use that's going to be on it.

Deborah Armstrong:         

Yeah, well, they're usually pre-sealed, so you don't need to treat it. If it's an oilier type of a hardwood on the stairs, you're going to oil it.

Karl Yeh:          

Oh, okay, okay. And how often do you think you need to do that?

Deborah Armstrong:           

Depending again on the traffic, but usually every few years.

Karl Yeh:           Every few years?

Deborah:          Yeah. In a high-traffic area.

Karl Yeh:           Do you want anything to add in terms of hardwood stairs?

Deborah Armstrong:           

Just really consider if you have children, elderly, or pets that are using these stairs often, carpet is probably the best way to go.

Karl Yeh:          

So question of the day for you is

Do you own hardwood stairs, and what is your experience with them?

Let us know in the comment section below. Thank you very much for joining us, and we'll catch you next time.


Your turn:

Let us know if you have additional interior design questions that we can answer by submitting them in the comments section below. 

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