Installing Vinyl Flooring On Stairs (Can You Do it & How To)

Vinyl is a great choice for your floor due to its affordability and versatility. But, can you use it on the stairs?

You can install vinyl flooring on stairs, but you must use luxury vinyl tiles or planks. That’s because luxury vinyl planks (LVP) are stronger, easier to clean, and more durable than sheets. 

Also, LVP flooring is designed with underlayment and has a rigid core, making it capable of withstanding heavy foot traffic. However, you must glue the planks to the stair to prevent them from shifting out of place.

Vinyl Floors Stick To Stairs

Vinyl sticks to stairs because it’s a floating floor. Since it’s a floating floor, it will stick to any strong and flat surface. However, you must use glue to help the planks stay in one place.

If the stairs are damaged or have dents or an uneven surface, vinyl won’t stick over them. That’s because the planks don’t stick to uneven surfaces because the locking mechanisms won’t work (or click). 

If the stairs are riddled with bumps, you must remove the imperfections first. For wood floors, sand the surface to remove the bumps and imperfections. If they have holes or cracks, apply a wood filler to repair or fill the holes.

Pros/Cons

Here are the pros and cons of installing vinyl flooring:

Pros

  1. Easy DIY installation – They are easy to install because they come with a “tongue and groove locking system” that clicks and locks the planks with each other. Unlike other floors, vinyl flooring is ready to use, and you can install it yourself.
  2. Moisture-resistant – They are moisture-resistant. For instance, luxury vinyl flooring is waterproof, meaning your stairs will be protected from water damage. 
  3. Easy To Clean – They come with a plastic sheet top layer, meaning dirt and stains won’t stick to the floor. So, you don’t have to do much cleaning for vinyl stairs.
  4. Versatility – They come in different designs, colors, and patterns that match different types of floors. You can choose tile, luxury, or sheet vinyl. 
  5. Durability – They are durable and will withstand high foot traffic for longer.

Cons

  1. Hard To Remove – Since you will glue them to the subfloor, removing them later will be difficult and can ruin the surface. So, if you are looking for a temporary floor, don’t use vinyl. 
  2. Underlayment – You must install underlayment before installing lino on stairs. But, it’s hard to get underlayment because of the small surface of the stairs. However, some types of vinyl, such as LVP, come with underlayment. 
  3. Stair Fitting – It’s expensive to get the right stair treads, nose fittings, and trims. 

Types of Vinyl Flooring To Use

You must use a lino on stairs that is strong, durable, and moisture-resistant. That’s because stairs are high foot traffic areas, and you need durable flooring to withstand it. 

Here are the types of lino floors that are strong enough for your stairs:

Luxury Vinyl Planks

Luxury vinyl planks are durable, strong, and a great choice for your stairs. They come in planks and stick using the “tongue and groove” locking mechanism. LVP has a hardwood-like appearance that comes in different shades and colors to match your floor or home decor.

They are made of several layers of recycled materials and wood fibers, making them durable enough to handle high foot traffic.

Luxury vinyl planks have a plastic sheeting top layer that makes them waterproof. So, they will protect your floor from water damage or spills. 

Luxury Vinyl Tiles

Luxury vinyl tiles have a similar makeup as luxury plank vinyl. The main difference is that they are designed to mirror the appearance of a tiled floor, while luxury planks have a hardwood appearance.

Aside from the tiled appearance, this floor is strong and will withstand high traffic. It also comes with a built-in underlayment that makes the floor waterproof. It’s easy to clean and maintain as it doesn’t accept stains and dirt like regular hardwood flooring.

Composite Vinyl

Composite vinyl flooring isn’t 100% vinyl because it contains stone plastic and recycled wood. This vinyl will work well on your stairs because it is strong and reinforced with different materials to withstand heavy traffic and weight.

It has a rigid core and waterproof sheeting that prevents moisture damage on your floor. This is one of the few types of vinyl that you can also use on outdoor stairs.

Note: Don’t use sheet vinyl as they are too thin and flexible. If you use them, the floor will get damaged easily, and you will have to replace them often. 

How To Install Vinyl Flooring on Stairs?

Here are the tools you need:

  • Wood caulk
  • Rubber mallet
  • Measuring tape
  • Vinyl floor adhesive
  • Chisel
  • Sandpaper
  • Measuring tape
  • Vinyl flooring, preferably LVP
  • Underlayment (if the planks aren’t designed with one)

1. Prep The Stairs

Prep The Stairs

First, remove trims and baseboards around the stairs using a chisel. After, sand the treads to remove bumps and stubborn stains from them. After sanding, remove the dust and clean the stairs.

2. Take Your Measurement

Take Your Measurement

Measure the length and width of the stairs using a measuring tape. Pay attention to the edges and corners of the treads. Write down the dimensions so you can know the size of the planks you need.

3. Trim The Vinyl Planks

Trim The Vinyl Planks

Using the measurements (size) of your stains, trim the planks to fit the size of the stairs. 

4. Apply Vinyl Glue

Apply Vinyl Glue

Once you have the planks in the correct size, fix them over the stairs (without glue) to see if they fit. If the planks fit, remove them and apply glue over the stairs and on the back of the planks. 

If the vinyl planks don’t have underlayment, you must install one first. 

5. Install The Vinyl Flooring

Install The Planks

Once you apply glue on the stairs and planks, place the planks over the stairs. Install them from top to bottom. You can use a rubber mallet to tap the planks so they can stick better. 

After installing the planks, wait 48 hours until the vinyl planks acclimate. After 48 hours, install the trims and start using the floor. 

Gluing Vinyl Floors on Stairs

You must glue vinyl flooring to the stairs because the stair treads aren’t wide enough to allow the planks to lock with each other. Also, you will use one plank on one stair, so you must glue that plank. Gluing prevents them from moving or falling out of place.

However, if the stairs are wide enough to allow 3 planks, you don’t have to glue them. That’s because you can use the lock mechanisms to lock multiple planks with each other and prevent them from moving. 

You must use vinyl glue and allow the glue to dry for 24-48 hours before walking over the floor. If you use the floor too soon, the glue won’t dry properly, and the planks won’t stick. Also, the stairs must be fully dry before applying the glue.

Things To Know:

Durability

Vinyl flooring lasts between 10-25 years on stairs depending on the quality, type, and structure of the floor.

Strong vinyl flooring, such as luxury plank vinyl and tile, can last over 20 years. That’s because they are stronger and more durable than regular vinyl sheets.

On the other hand, regular vinyl and sheets don’t last up to 10 years on stairs since they are not strong enough to handle the traffic.

Cost

The average cost of installing vinyl planks on stairs ranges between $300-$2000. This covers the cost of materials needed, labor, and the cost of the planks.

However, the cost of installation depends on the condition of the stairs, the type of vinyl, and the need to pay or not for labor.

If you want to pay a professional to complete the task for you, the cost will be more than installing them by yourself. Also, vinyl floors, such as luxury vinyl, cost more than regular vinyl floors. So, the type of flooring also determines the overall cost.

Carpet vs Vinyl For Stairs

Carpet flooring is not as durable as vinyl on your stairs. On average, the vinyl floor will last at least 15 years, while the carpet will not last up to 5 years. Asides from durability, vinyl is also stronger and more capable of withstanding traffic and weight than carpet.

It’s generally advised to go for luxury vinyl flooring on stairs than carpets. This is because vinyl flooring will give you a better finish, more comfort, and better protection than carpets.

Final Words

You can install vinyl planks on your stairs because they are durable, strong, and capable of withstanding traffic and weight. Also, they are easy to install, clean, and maintain, making them user-friendly.

However, vinyl flooring is tough to remove, especially if it’s glued. So, this shouldn’t be used as a temporary provision on your stairs. Finally, ensure to use luxury vinyl as they are strong and will last longer. 

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