Installing Laminate Flooring on Stairs

If you have stairs in your home, you may be wondering how to match them with your beautiful laminate floors. We’re here to answer your questions about installing laminate flooring on stairs.

What are the challenges to installing laminate flooring on a staircase?

The depth of most stair treads (the part you actually put your foot on) is 11 inches. Because the width of most laminate-flooring planks is a little over 7 inches, you’ll have to piece two planks together to cover the entire tread surface. To make the process easier, we recommend gluing two planks together the night before (while engaging the locking system, of course), doing enough to cover all the treads of the staircase. That way you’re making one cut per tread — not attempting to match up two separately cut plank pieces precisely.

Step by Step Tutorial

Is there any other way to avoid piecing laminate planks together on a stair tread?

Yes, some retailers may offer one-piece laminate stair-tread surfaces that combine the stair nose (or “bull nose,” the rounded, leading edge of the tread) with entire tread surface. This makes it simple and less risky to mess up installation.

What about safety considerations regarding laminate-flooring installation on stairs?

Stair accidents can be dangerous. For example, if the stair nose is improperly installed and someone puts weight on it and it gives way … well, you get the picture. Local building codes supersede anything we tell our customers, so always follow them. Also, don’t attempt to install laminate flooring on stairs unless you’re at the upper end of the skill level or you’re a professional installer. Stairs are tricky and not only can be frustrating to install if you’re not properly skilled and equipped.

Any advice on special tools or equipment needed to install laminate flooring on a staircase?

Installing laminate flooring on stairs is definitely one time you won’t use do it as a floating-floor system, so don’t use underlayment.You will need to glue and screw (or nail) the laminate down to the stairs themselves. The glue should be a Liquid Nails® or construction-type glue dispensed from a glue gun. To ensure a stronger grip by the adhesive to the back of the laminate-flooring plank, we recommend scratching the back surface of the plank with either a knife, screwdriver or a PaperTiger® scoring tool normally used to help remove wallpaper.

There’s another benefit to using a fairly liberal amount of construction adhesive when installing the stair nose that may not have occurred to you: In older homes, it’s not uncommon for wooden step treads to be worn down in the middle. The glue will actually level-out that slight dip in the middle of the leading edge of the step for a more stable installation. Don’t use glue alone, though — once glue is in place, we recommend drilling pilot holes and using screws, then using filler to hide the screws. Some people will recommend using a nail gun. Just make sure the nails you use are ribbed for better holding power. You can rent nail guns and chop saws (that’s another nice tool to use that helps you make very precise cuts) in case you don’t have these handy.

Where can someone learn more about installing laminate flooring on stairs?

There are lots of “how to” videos and articles on the web, but be careful. We’ve watched many of them, and they might not be what we’d recommend for Swiss Krono laminate flooring.