Hardwood Stairs – A “Rising” Option

November 15, 2021

Posted in macstaff

hardwood stairs

[Image source: Unsplash]

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at installing a brand new set of hardwood stairs or just renovating stairs that already exist, there’s a lot of information out there to help you make the right decisions on what you need. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know on wooden stairs and everything that goes into it.

What Are Stair Treads?

In short, a tread is simply a long plank of some material with a rounded edge for a front. It is most commonly made from wood, but it could also be composed of metal, plastic, or other materials. Your treads don’t have to be made of the same materials as the risers. In fact, some believe there are stylistic reasons to purposefully mismatch materials to create a particular look. 

There are many different factors to take into consideration when deciding on what style and type of tread you want. For example, not all stair treads are meant to be installed after the initial construction of the staircase, with some only best used during the construction of the house itself. You will want to choose a style that matches the type of house it’s going into. You will quickly learn if you were too hasty in deciding.

For wood treads specifically, there are a few particular choices that are most popular. 

  • Red Oak is the easiest to get ahold of. It has a reddish-brown color to it and is considered strong and heavy. When you think of wood flooring, you’re probably thinking of this type.
  • Knotty Pine is another type of wood that is commonly seen in businesses and some homes. While aesthetically very pleasing, pine is not the strongest material and will require more maintenance over time to maintain good looks.
  • White Oak is one that has become popular in the past few decades. It has a similar strength to its red counterpart but boasts a more modern look with more straight and linear grain to it.

There are, naturally, many more types, but these should be enough to get you started. 

What Are Risers?

Stair risers are the vertical back piece of the steps. They’re the part where you’re stepping onto and putting most of your weight on. In most cases, a staircase in a home will have a riser for each step, but that’s not always true. Some staircases will have an open back and not use risers at all. The size of the stair riser matters a great deal in how safe the stairs are to climb. Risers that are too high can be very dangerous for the inattentive, like children and the elderly, not to mention people simply not looking. 

What Makes Hardwood Stairs Better Than Carpeting?

hardwood staircase

[Image source: Unsplash]

While it’s impossible to claim that hardwood is simply better in every situation, it is typically the better choice. This is because of several reasons. 

First, and most obvious, they tend to look better. They’ll stay that way too for far longer than the lifetime of carpeting. Over time, regardless of how careful you are, after about ten years it will begin to show signs of wear. Eventually, it will need to be torn up and replaced entirely, costing you thousands of dollars and nullifying any savings you would have made over the hardwood.

Speaking of savings, that’s another area that hardwood is better for. The upfront cost will almost always be more expensive than carpeting, but due to the resilience of wood, there’s a good chance that you will never need to replace it entirely within your lifetime. Instead, you may just need to sand it down and revarnish it or some other sort of maintenance. Your wallet will thank you for it.

If you do need to pull up the wood, it probably isn’t because the wood has gone bad. Often, it’s just because you want something different for a change. You can then sell the wood as used and get a good return on your investment. For more on the problems with carpeting over hardwood in general, we have a full article on the subject.

Common Mistakes

You’ve decided that you do want to have hardwood flooring (You won’t regret it!), but you might not be fully aware of a lot of the pitfalls people make when it comes to flooring.

It Will Take More Than One Day

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the work can be done in a single afternoon. Just because you have all the materials does not mean you have all the experience. Budget out at minimum a weekend to ensure that things not only get done on time but get done right the first time. As the old saying goes, “Measure twice, cut once.” The last thing you want to have happened is the need for redoing everything from scratch due to an avoidable mistake.

It Will Be More Expensive Up-Front, But Worth It

This was mentioned earlier, but it bears repeating. On paper, getting carpeting sounds like the better deal when it comes to price. The reality is that if it isn’t lasting as long, then it’s probably not holding up its value. We have a whole article on the subject here.

Getting the Finish Right Is Easy

With the ability to use MacDonald Hardwoods’ prefinished hardwood flooring, the job is easy. Normally, it can be a little difficult due to extra installation work. But with prefinished hardwood flooring, sanding and staining are done on the wood before it’s in your home. The materials you get are ready to go!

Consider NOT DIYing It

There is a temptation for many of us to try and save the cost of labor and do things ourselves. It’s admirable, but there are a lot of ways things can go wrong. If you are not completely sure of your abilities, you may end up in a situation where you spend more money fixing your mistakes than you would have spent just hiring an expert to do it right the first time.


In the end, you have to decide what will look best for your environment. When treated right, your flooring may even outlast you.  No matter what sort of wood you choose or what style you end up going with though, make sure that you won’t regret it a few years down the line. We at MacDonald Hardwoods are experts at helping YOU determine the perfect wood for your unique home. Reach out through email or give us a call and we will help you make the right decisions.