When you’ve chosen the perfect solid wood flooring for your home it’s time to start thinking about the stairs that you are going to install. After all, the wood floors are the foundation for the overall design, and you want them to be as warm and inviting as possible.
The stairway you choose needs to blend into the floor and be inviting as well. Subtle things like the grain direction, construction, wood contour, and finish colours and textures have a big impact on the overall appearance of the staircase.
Check out the tips we’ve picked from over the years working with many clients choosing a design for their staircase.
Wood grain direction is very important to think about when laying out a floor into a stairway. Our eyes love to find the patterns and follow the soft flowing grain in a new hardwood floor. But if this leads the eye into a space where the grain direction stops and runs perpendicular to the hardwood floor, it creates an abrupt barrier that disturbs the overall flow and design of the staircase.
The first stair tread should have a grain that runs parallel with the floor to give people an invitation to continue. Bowed and curved steps are a bit more grand and the convex shape tells the mind that the transition is soft and acceptable.
You can see below that the direction of the boards run perpendicular to the flooring, but the stairs present an interesting geometric design that sets the stage for the transition.
Another area where it is acceptable to alter the grain direction is in large openings where there is a step down between rooms. Here, there is a clear division of spaces so you can install a piece of nosing or a custom stair tread – the goal is to minimise seams and use an element that runs the entire length of the opening.
Simple staircases that have a minimum number of elements are great for designers when they want to put the emphasis of the house on the space. However, when you design a stairway with an overly simplified design the mind has concern for safety.
Make sure to design a staircase that gives a feeling of quality and stability, and factor in elements that match the scale and quality of the rest of the home. If you are going to simplify the balusters, reinforce the construction and design with a modified hand-rail design or thicker custom treads that can provide an added touch of luxury and personalsation.
Wide plank floors is great for staircases. Make sure the dimension matches and flows with the wood on your floors, it is not a great look to have a wide plank floor that is laid with stair treads made of narrow strips of wood. This can lower the quality of the design and appearance. When ordering stair treads, talk to us for advice about gluing the stair treads with pieces that are similar in width to the flooring.
Once you know what type of wood you are going to use for your floors — solid oak floors, pine or reclaimed wood floors, you can begin to select the colour. In most cases the colour you use on the floors will be similar to the colour you use on the stairs. However, if you order a prefinished hardwood floor you probably don’t want to have your stair treads prefinished at the same time. Stair components will take a lot of abuse during the installation process so finishing the stair treads on site is normally ideal. This helps you avoid any additional expenses for repair or replacement. Once your prefinished flooring arrives, RH Wood Floors can provide a stain combination that will match perfectly.
Another design element to consider is whether you want the risers to match the stair treads — if you will have risers. Here are a few options:
Use natural wood as a contrast to dark wood floor stair treads. Or use the same wood on the risers as on the treads.
Painted risers are a very popular design option, especially against dark wood flooring or a wood floor with a lot of variation like reclaimed wood floors.
Tiled or Decorative Risers
If your home is a bit more decorative or eclectic in nature, use this opportunity to add a little bit of artwork to your risers with paint or tile.
The design process of creating your new wood floor and stairs can be great fun. Let RH Wood Floors help you create something that is inspiring and inviting in your next space.