Wood has remained the most popular choice for stairs for hundreds of years. There are a lot of good reasons why people buy them, but there are some caveats too. So, what are the pros and cons of wood stairs?
Wood stairs have the benefit of looking great, are easy to clean, maintain, repair, and add to the overall value of your house. However, they can be very slippery, noisy, and expensive to install. Also, they tend to crack over time from heating and cooling, and critters can damage the wood.
This article will go over all the pros and cons of wood stairs that you should know about before building your next staircase. It will help you consider all the unique properties of wood stairs so that deciding on which material to use will be easier for you.
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Wood stairs have a few important benefits on their side. There’s a reason why you see them everywhere, and not all of it has to do with cost or availability.
Here are some of the most significant upsides of wood stairs.
If you love wood as much as I do, you can’t disagree with this point.
Well-built hardwood stairs are one of the most striking features of your entire house. Especially when it’s the first thing a guest sees as you open the door.
All types of wood look great and are relatively easy to find. You can achieve almost any look you want, from traditional and antiquated to minimalist and modern.
Do you want a staircase that looks warm, inviting, and cozy? Go for a darker wood like walnut, rosewood, or mahogany.
If you prefer the modern white wood style, you’ll love birch, ash, hickory, and maple.
But the most important selling point of wood stairs is that you can match them with your flooring.
You can get the exact same wood to get a look of continuity.
Just make sure you’re buying the same wood from the same company so you don’t have to worry about slight color differences that may affect the final look of your stairs.
It’s best to use the same wood for both your flooring and wood stairs because wood looks slightly different as it ages. Additionally, two trees of the same type can produce vastly different colors, so if you want the stairs to match your floors, they should be made with wood from the same source.
Wood Stairs Are Super Easy to Clean
Another huge plus for wood stairs is that you can wipe them clean in seconds.
Simply grab a high-quality mop and some wood cleaner, and it’ll be shiny-new in seconds.
If you don’t know what cleaner to use, I recommend the Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner from Amazon. It’ll remove any stains in seconds and doesn’t leave a sticky residue.
Wood stairs with lacquer finishes are even easier to clean, and any dust, dirt, and sticky substances will come off effortlessly.
Wood Stairs Are Easy to Repair and Restore
Did you know that wood stairs are one of the easiest materials to repair?
If the wood on one of your stairs cracks, you can tear it off and replace it with a new one in just a few minutes.
This is also why you should always buy more than you need when building or renovating your home. Most of us already do this with tiles, but we often forget our wood stairs.
A less common repair method would be to fix up some epoxy resin and fill in the cracks.
Colorful looks amazing with wood, but this only makes sense if you’re renovating old wood stairs.
Alternatively, use some traditional wood filler and sand it down once it’s dry.
Just like hardwood flooring, wood stairs will add a bit to the overall price of your house.
This pretty much justifies the slightly higher cost of hardwood compared to concrete, metal, and carpeting, and you’ll get back most of the money if you decide to sell your home.
So far, wooden stairs sound amazing, right? While they look great and are easy to clean and repair, wood stairs have a few drawbacks.
After all, wood is an organic material, and not everything can be impeccable at all times. So, let’s take a look at a few important considerations before getting your new wood staircase.
Wood Stairs Can Be Very Expensive to Install
While they do undoubtedly add to the overall value of your house, they’re very expensive to start with.
They cost between $100 and $200 per step on average, which quickly adds up if you have a long staircase. This cost does include labor and other materials. Additionally, premium and rare woods will cost more to make.
If you’re a confident handyman, you could try installing the stairs and stair treads yourself. It’s not that difficult, and it’s usually to fix small mistakes.
You refer to this YouTube video from Stairtreads if you’re wondering how to install stair treads on your own:
We’re all too familiar with the loud creaking and squeaking that happens when we step on a wooden stair.
The sound is incredibly annoying and loud. It’ll wake up your whole family when you’re trying to go down the flight of stairs at night. It makes late-night snacks all but impossible.
And the noise only gets worse as the wood gets older. The wood warps slightly over time, which causes it to bend and screech.
You can somewhat remedy it by doing some of the following things:
- Fill any gaps you see with glue. Pay attention to where the sound is coming from to identify the gaps.
- Dry lube the wood. Just like with squeaky shoes, some baby powder can dampen the squeaking. Again, put it where it squeaks the most.
- Add screws or nails. This won’t look good, but you can fix warped wood by hammering in a few nails or screwing in screws with a power drill.
- Replace the step. If nothing else can fix your issue, replacing the whole piece of wood altogether will always work.
Lacquer, clear coats, and most other wood finishes are great. They protect your wood stairs from any damage, plus they give a shiny look to the otherwise dull wood.
However, these finishes are also extremely slippery. When your wood floors are finished, the surface feels more like glass than wood.
You can install a self-adhesive carpet to stop it from being slippery. However, doing so ruins the whole point of having gorgeous wood stairs (and also serves as an additional cost that may not be in your budget).
The fact that wood is an organic product comes up once again. Humans have a great (but complicated) relationship with wood, and so do pests.
The classic example we all think of is termites. We’ve all seen them chow down a whole house in cartoons. Unfortunately for you, that can happen to your wood stairs too.
Other pests like ants, beetles, and borers love to eat wood too.
Lacquer does a great job at protecting the stairs, but it’s not perfect. Plus, tiny insects can crawl under the stairs and eat the unfinished parts.
You’ll never see metal, concrete, or carpeted stairs crack, no matter how old they are. On the other hand, wood cracks fairly easily.
In addition to the pressure from being walked on, wood stairs expand and contract as they get heated and cooled. This cycle warps the wood and causes it to crack eventually.
Wood filler can take care of this issue, but the stairs will never look the same. Additionally, just because repairs are quick doesn’t mean that they don’t take time and effort. With longer lasting materials, you won’t have to worry about constantly making time to repairs your stairs.
Wood is a popular material for stairs. Wood stairs look great and are very easy to maintain. They also add to the price of your house once you decide to sell it.
However, they’re pricey and creak a lot when you step on them. Additionally, they can easily be damaged by the action of insects and other pests.
Ultimately, it’s for you to decide whether wood stairs are for you or you want something else instead.