How Do You Install Vinyl Flooring on Stairs?
The Average Vinyl Stair Tread Cost for Professional Installation is $77 – $128 per stair
If you are installing vinyl flooring in your home, you might be wondering, can you put vinyl flooring on stairs? Yes, you can, and it is commonly done by pros and DIY homeowners. There are three vinyl stair options all of which we discuss below with costs and installation instructions. Your three options are…
1. Prefabricated vinyl stair treads
2. Cut and install vinyl plank flooring and nosing
3. Cut and install vinyl sheet flooring and nosing
Last Updated: September 19, 2023, by: Rob Parsell
What types of vinyl materials can be used for the stairs and treads? This Home Flooring Pros “How-To” guide will provide you with all of the details including how to install both sheet vinyl and vinyl plank flooring on your stairs and the different costs. We also have a similar how-to guide for laminate stair flooring.
Let’s get started by recapping your options:
INSTALLING VINYL PLANK FLOORING ON STAIRS
There are two options for installing vinyl flooring on your stairs:
1). Install pre-made vinyl stair treads and risers
2). Install the same vinyl plank, tile or sheet vinyl flooring that you’ve already installed on the floors
First, we’ll look at the pre-made treads.
THE COST OF INSTALLING PREFABRICATED VINYL STAIR TREADS
Many vinyl plank manufacturers (including Shaw (Treadz), Mannington (SimpleStairs), Shaw COREtec, SmartCore, Cali etc.) sell matching prefab stair treads and accessories like stair nosing. That’s the first option to consider when you purchase the flooring, because these prefabricated treads are designed to make installation easier than using standard planks. They are perfect for DIY if ease of installation is your top priority.
However, prefabricated treads cost about $50 – $60 per stair, so they are more expensive than using planks from your flooring material. If cost is most important, then plan to install planks on the stairs.
If your flooring brand does not make stair pieces, try generic prefab treads from Cap a Tread and a few other brands. They are manufactured in enough color and style options to complement most vinyl flooring options. Most offer a surface designed for traction and slip resistance, ideal for stairs.
You can find Cap a Tread at Home Depot. The kit for each stair includes tread material and a molding or nosing at the front edge which finishes the stair tread.
Common Width: 47”
Common Depth: 12.125”
Bull Nose Height: 2.2”
Cost: $50 – $60
Pro Installation Cost: $45 – $65 per tread
Each tread covers almost exactly 4 square feet, so the prefab stair treads cost between $12.50 and $15 per square foot. And with professional installation, the cost will be about double.
Prefab vs Planks
Using the same luxury vinyl planks as you’ve installed on the floor, the square foot cost will average $28 but pro installation will be about $70 to $100 per tread.
ABOUT VINYL CAP A TREAD
What is the Cap a Tread vinyl stair renewal system?
Cap a Tread is made by Zamma and they are prefabricated stair treads and risers.
They are produced with a medium density fiberboard (MDF) base and a durable vinyl overlay with a pre-attached stair nosing. The layers are heat pressed together and the vinyl is cut into standard tread and stair riser sizes.
Cap a Tread Pros
What kind of stairs do you have? Closed stairs have treads butting up to walls on either side. Open stairs have one open side – with a stair rail, of course.
Cap a tread makes kits for both types. The open stairs kits have treads finished on one side. You can buy left side kits or right side kits finished on the open side of our staircase.
Flooring and home improvement stores carry several vinyl Cap a Tread choices. In all, there are about 40 different colors and styles.
Cap a Tread also makes risers in matching colors, a white riser, and matching transition or threshold strips and moldings.
The warranty is 20 years which is in the high to average range for vinyl plank flooring.
Installing Cap a Tread on the stairs is quicker than installing planks and a stair nose on stair treads. Cap a Tread installation is detailed below.
Cap a Tread Cons
Cap a Tread installation is somewhat easier than installing vinyl planks, the job can still be difficult to get it right. Professional installation is recommended unless the homeowner has top-notch DIY skills.
Cap a Tread carries a California Prop 65 warning (what doesn’t?) meaning that sawing, drilling, and sanding can expose you to wood dust, a substance known to the State of California to cause cancer or other harm. Wear a dust mask or avoid inhaling wood dust.
CAP A TREAD INSTALLATION
Before purchasing Cap a Tread, determine if you need standard (for stairs 1” thick) or Type 2 (for stairs 1 1/8” to 1 ¾” thick). In other words, how tall is the tread? This will determine bullnose size – and whether you need Standard or Type 2 kits.
If you plan to also cover your risers, the vertical part of the stair, Cap a Tread makes risers that coordinate with the tread colors or plain white risers.
Purchase one tube of all-urethane construction adhesive for every two tread and riser combinations.
1). Bring the Cap a Treads inside and allow them to acclimate to the indoor temperature and humidity for at least 3 4 days.
2). Measure the width and depth of each tread as you go. Yes, they should be uniform, but might vary by a 1/8” to 1/4″ each.
3). If the treads don’t fit without cutting, note the correct measurements on the underside of each.
4). Cut the tread depth with a miter saw and the tread width with a table saw.
5). Before applying glue, give each tread a dry fit to make sure it is cut to size.
6). Apply adhesive to the bottom side of each tread. Start around the edges then move across the tread in a zigzag fashion.
7). Press the vinyl tread into place. Immediately wipe off excess glue that squeezes onto the bullnose or elsewhere.
8). If you will be installing risers, you can use 3 to 4 brads or stay nails at the rear 3/8” of the tread to prevent the tread slipping. The riser pieces will cover them.
The manufacturer provides a written Installation Manual.
THE COST OF INSTALLING VINYL FLOOR PLANKS AS STAIR TREADS
This is the route to go if your flooring brand doesn’t offer stair treads or you plan to DIY and wish to cut costs.
Before giving a brief installation guide, we’ll look at the costs.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring Planks (LVP): Average Cost – $7 per square foot, or about $28 per stair.
Installation Cost: $70 – $100 per stair
When using Cap a Tread the cost for material and professional installation is about $95 to $125 per stair, as outlined above.
When using vinyl planking, the average cost for material and pro installation would be $98 – $128 per stair. But the installation part of the job is higher than when using prefab treads. Using planks is the most cost-effective if you are going DIY, but if you will use a professional, get several estimates from local installers to ensure the best price.
HOW TO INSTALL VINYL PLANK FLOORING ON STAIRS
Note – these instructions apply to vinyl tiles too, whether luxury vinyl tile (LVT) or more affordable peel and stick tile. You will need multiple tiles side to side for each tread. The benefit is that one row of vinyl tiles will cover each tread front to back.
This involves more cutting, for starters.
Decide if you’re going to cover treads only or the risers too. And you’ll need the right size bullnose for each tread and to finish open edges.
Fortunately, most manufacturers of quality vinyl plank flooring also make specialty pieces like stair nose and molding.
Besides the flooring, you’ll also need a tube of construction adhesive for every 2 tread and riser combinations, a jigsaw, a fine-tooth blade, tape measure, carpenters square and a drill or nail gun.
How do you finish vinyl plank stairs?
1). Allow the vinyl planks and stair nosing to acclimate to the space for at least 3 days.
2). Prepare the stairs. Remove any existing flooring or trim from the stairs and check that the subfloor is in good condition and that the stairs are level. Sweep the stairs of any dust or dirt.
3). Measure the stair tread and cut the planks to fit. When measuring the tread depth, account for the width of the stair nose which might, depending on design, overlap the top of the tread and must fit tight to the front edge of the tread.
4). Most planks are narrower than treads, so you will likely need at least two planks to cover the stair. Any partial planks should be positioned at the back of the stair with the full plank at the front.
5). Dry-lay the tread piece or pieces and nosing to check for fit.
6). Apply adhesive using a caulking gun to the underside of the tread, lay it in place, and press firmly.
7). Use fasteners, either small screws or nails, in the corners or along the back edge where they will be covered by the riser.
8). The procedure for installing the stir nose depends on the type of nosing you’re using. One type snaps over the plank and another type uses a shim and must be glued on.
9). Install the risers in the same way as the treads.
This video demonstrates the process: YouTube
COST OF INSTALLING SHEET VINYL FLOORING ON STAIRS
Let’s look at the costs of installing sheet vinyl on stair treads.
Sheet Vinyl: Average Cost – $2.50 per square foot or about $10 per stair tread.
Installation Cost: Pro installation will range between $50 and $80 per stair.
The average cost for material and professional installation for sheet vinyl is around $60 to $90 per stair.
Installing sheet vinyl as a DIY project is the most economical and it’s not difficult for someone with mid-level skills. Just take it slow when measuring and cutting the material.
HOW TO INSTALL SHEET VINYL ON STAIR TREADS
Besides the flooring material, you’ll need the right tools: a tape measure, a utility knife, pressure sensitive flooring adhesive, a short-napped roller, a carpet roller, and stair nosing.
1). You will need to allow the sheet vinyl and stair nosing, if you are using a vinyl product, to acclimate to the space for at least a few days.
2). Prepare the stairs by removing the old stair material and cleaning the stairs of dust.
3). Measure the depth of the stair tread in the middle, as well as at each end. Measure the length of the stair tread.
4). Lay the loose sheet vinyl on the stair to decide how you want the pattern to lay out on each tread. This might be the most challenging part of the effort. It will mean, probably, that you have to make cuts on all four sides, extracting a piece of vinyl from the sheet that will look good on the tread – with balanced tile patterns, for example, at front and back of each tread.
5). Use a utility knife with a sharp blade and a straightedge to cut the sheet vinyl.
6). Dry-lay the sheet vinyl onto the stair to check for fit.
7). Use the roller to apply the adhesive to the tread. Allow the adhesive to dry for 20 to 30 minutes or until it becomes very tacky.
8). Lay the sheet vinyl on the stair tread at one side and work toward the other side while smoothing the vinyl with your hands.
9.) Remove any bubbles by rolling the tread with the carpet roller, beginning in the middle, and working out to the edges.
10). There are a couple of options for the risers. You can cover them with sheet vinyl in the same way as you covered the treads, you can purchase prefab white or paintable risers, or you can make your own plywood risers. Risers can be glued in place.
11). There are also options for stair nosing including metal strips that can be nailed to the treads.
Definitely watch a tutorial or two with clear instructions to get familiar with the vinyl sheet flooring installation process for stairs!
About the Author:
Rob joined the Home Flooring Pros team in 2014 and is a freelance writer, specializing in flooring, remodeling and HVAC systems (read more).
“I’m the son of an interior designer and picked up an eye for design as a result. I started hanging wallpaper and painting at 14 and learned enough on the job to be the general contractor on two homes we built for our family and did much of the finish plumbing, electrical, painting, and trim work myself.”