Four Decorative Ways to Dress Up a Stairway

Pental Clayhaus Tile
Pental Clayhaus Tile. © Pental
  • 01 of 05

    Introduction

     Stairs are usually just seen as a way to move between levels--not as a decorative element of their own. But stairs comprise enough interior real estate that they deserve to be decorated, too. This article will describe four ways to improve the appearance of your stairs and make them function as design elements in your home. 

    Note on terminology: stair tread is the horizontal surface that your foot walks on. A stair riser is the vertical portion between the treads. 

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Install Tiles on the Risers

    Pental Clayhaus Tile
    Pental Clayhaus Tile. © Pental

    It's common to see tiles on exterior stairs, especially with Spanish-style houses. But what about tiles on your inside stairways?

    Shown here is a design from Pental Granite & Marble, which has three retail locations in the Pacific Northwest. This design marries traditional hardwood stair treads with a Clayhaus ceramic tile in Matte White. Of course, similar ​tiles could be purchased from any tile retailer. The style variations with this type of treatment are almost endless. 

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Painting the Risers

    Paint Stair Risers
    Paint Stair Risers. Image: © / Courtesy of Lowe's Home Improvement

    When you come up to your stairs from the bottom, the perspective gives you a view of the risers only--no treads. Depending on the length of your staircase, you could be looking at a vertical surface of roughly 3 feet wide by 8 feet high...that's 24 square feet of visual surface looking for a design treatment. That's good enough reason to paint the stair risers: that massive area of vertical real estate.

    Here,  we're looking at risers painted in alternating blue-and-orange, with white stenciled patterns, an idea given to us by Kristan Cunningham, a designer and design expert who has been featured on HGTV's "Design on a Dime" and "Designer's Challenge" and on the "Rachel Ray Show."

    Such a busy scheme might not be for everyone, but even painting the risers a solid color that complements the wall colors would offer an opportunity for creativity. 

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Install Stair Tread and Riser Covers

    StareCasing Covers
    StareCasing Covers. © StareCasing

    No, we're not talking about replacing the entire stair tread and riser (though that's a possibility, too, if you're feeling industrious). Instead, this is a commercial product designed to entirely cover the existing stairs with decorative covers.  After installation, stair tread and riser covers look exactly like the real thing. The advantage is that you don't need to take on the heavy task of ripping out the entire treads/risers in order to install new treads and risers.

    Stair refacing kits, such as the StareCasing Kit shown here, come with a solid hardwood tread and riser. Cut to size and attach to your existing stairs with finish nails.  Other kits use engineered wood.

    Note, though, that refacing kits do raise the level of your stairs. It's something you will notice at the very first and last steps, but not in the middle part of the run.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Apply Sisal Stair Tread Carpets

    Sisal Stair Tread Carpeting
    Sisal Stair Tread Carpeting. © Natural Area Rugs

    An alternative to covering stairs completely with carpet--a look that's not very attractive--or applying a carpet runner is to apply sisal or seagrass tread covers to the tread surfaces. They don't cut down on sound as much as a continuous carpet runner might, but they are far easier to install. Tread rugs also protect your stairs against wear and tear.