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Pros and Cons of Laminate Flooring for Stairs

By Carrie Dixon, Blog Editor

Stairs with laminate flooringAre you remodeling, or building a new home, and wondering what to do with the stairs? Most homeowners find themselves considering one of two popular choices: carpet and laminate. While carpeting remains a great choice for many stairways, there are quite a few reasons to choose laminate instead. If you are unsure what to do with your stairs, here are some pros and cons regarding laminate flooring to consider.

What is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is an imitation wood material that is made by a high-resolution image of wood printed and glued to a fiberboard core. The fiberboard is then attacked to a layer underneath that protects the flooring against moisture damage. Finally, there is an upper layer of clear protectant that keeps the floor safe from scratches.

Manufacturers can create laminate that looks like almost anything you could want, including stone, metal, tile, and a huge variety of woods. Standard American favorites like oak and hickory wood are common, but you can also find laminate floor that mimics exotic woods like prado and tigerwood. The laminate flooring of today is extremely high quality material, looks just as real as hardwood, and offers homeowners options for many budget ranges.

With so many choices, it’s easy to see why laminate is one of the top choices for stairs. But there are still a few things to know before jumping right in to using this for your floor.

Pro: Laminate Flooring Makes Stairs Easier to Clean

There is no way to deny that laminate is much easier to clean than carpet, especially on stairs. Carpet accumulates more dust, hair, and dirt than any other type of flooring. Vacuuming can be difficult on stairs, where your vacuum may not fit. Instead of struggling with a handheld dust-buster, laminate flooring lets you easily sweep and mop to get rid of the dust. Occasional sweeping and a less-frequent mop is all that is required to take care of tough laminate flooring.

Con: Laminate Flooring Isn’t as Quiet as Carpet

If the stairs are leading towards bedrooms, you may want them to be very quiet to avoid waking up children or partners. Carpet is, unfortunately, a quieter option than laminate flooring. The padding under carpeting will absorb sound, so you can often climb stairs completely silently. On the other hand, laminate flooring will translate the sound of shoes walking up the stairs. If it’s imperative that the sound be muffled, you may want to go with carpet instead.

Pro: Laminate Flooring is DIY Friendly

If you are the weekend warrior type, it’s actually pretty simple to DIY a laminate floor, even on stairs. There is no nailing required, because laminate is designed in planks or tiles that snap together like puzzle pieces. You can even get laminate that does not require any sort of VOC-releasing glue, which is much better for the air quality in your home. If the stairs are currently wood or covered in old laminate, the need for tear-out is minimal. And if you live in a very humid area, you’ll find that this puzzle-like construction means that you don’t have as many cracks in the seams the way you would with other materials, because the laminate construction is more stable even during changes in the weather.

Con: Laminate Flooring Can’t Be Refinished, Only Replaced

While laminate may seem like a more cost-effective choice compared to carpet, don’t forget that when compared to wood, laminate does lack the ability to be refinished in the future. Once laminate wears out, you’ll just have to replace it. And laminate can be very susceptible to moisture damage, so if you live in a rainy or snowy area, and will frequently be tracking in moisture onto your stairs, be prepared to face some replacements in the future.

Pro: Laminate Will Do Less Damage to the Original Floor Than Carpet

If the choice is only between laminate and carpet, and you are covering up hardwood, go with laminate. Carpet requires multiple layers of staples and wires that can damage hardwood. Snap-in laminate boards or tiles will do less damage overall to the original flooring. Additionally, if you want laminate that looks and feels a little more realistic, you can also find wood laminate, which is a laminate product that has a layer of wood included in the product.

Pro: Laminate Installation is Fast and Easy

Finally, laminate installation is much faster and easier than carpeting, which makes it ideal for those who need their stairs usable right now. If you’ve been trying to decide between the two, there are great benefits for both. But laminate flooring does offer the best options for changing your mind in the future. If you’re teetering between the two, why not go for laminate at first? You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to fall in love with this flooring!