How to Install a Stair Nosing Strip

  • 01 of 04

    Install or Replace a Stair Nosing Strip

    Edging Strip on Stairs
    Edging Strip on Stairs. © Lee Wallender

    A stair nosing, or edging, strip is a length of aluminum or plastic that protects the edges of stairs that are not already protected by a built-in bullnose. In order to wrap around both the stair tread and riser, it has an L-shaped profile.

    These strips are usually 36" long. If you have a loose nosing strip, it can be quite dangerous, as shoes or socks can snag on an uplifted edge or jutting nail, causing the person to fall.

    If you have no protection for the nosing, you should--unprotected stair noses will begin to chip and splinter before long.

    Besides protection, nosing strips also act as physical "signals" to the person that their foot is resting on the edge of the stair.  Because the strips are textured, they provide traction, too.


    The only materials you will need is the stair nosing strip kit. The kit should include a set of spiral nails, too. The only tools you will need area a hammer and possibly a hacksaw if the strip is longer than the width of your stairs.

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Install Stair Nosing Strip: Cut to Length and Place It

    Place Edging Strip on Stair
    Place Edging Strip on Stair. © Lee Wallender

    In this tutorial, we are dealing with an aluminum nosing strip. Cut the strip to the width of the stair with a hacksaw. Be careful not to leave a metal burr at the very end of your cut (aluminum is prone to this). If you see a burr, carefully file it down until it is smooth.

    Place the strip tightly on the corner of the stair tread. If your strip has a curved side, this side will go on the top (the tread) of the stair. The flat side with the nail-holes will rest against the riser (front) of the stair.

    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Install Stair Nosing Strip: Check Nail Contact Point

    Mark Nailing Spot
    Mark Nailing Spot to Ensure Contact. © Lee Wallender

    Make sure that the nails will meet solid wood. In most cases, your contact point will be solid wood.  But at the top of stairs--at floor level--you may be dealing with layers of flooring, underlayment, and sub-floor. Thus, the contact point may not be the solid wood of a riser or even solid hardwood flooring, but underlayment or sub-floor.

    The best way to check this out is to press a nail point-first firmly into the holes of the strip. Remove the strip. You will see dots on the wood where the nail hit.

    If the nails will enter between layers of flooring, one option is to drill new holes in the nosing strip that are either a bit higher or lower in order to have contact with wood. If this option doesn't seem feasible, see the next step. 


    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    Install Stair Nosing Strip: Nail Into Place

    Nail At an Angle
    Nail Edging Strip in Place. © Lee Wallender

    Nail the nosing strip in place, methodically going from one end to the other (in other words, do not nail at left and right ends, and then fill in the middle).

    If you have the problem described in the previous step (nail going between layers of flooring), another option is to slightly nail at an angle, as shown in this photo. Do not exceed a 45-degree angle, as it will be impossible to flatten the head of the nail down.

    Because both underlayment and subfloor tend to be plywood, you cannot drive a nail directly horizontal and expect it to stay secured. The layers of the wood will only separate to accept the nail. Driving at an angle is the only way to make the nail stay in place in plywood.