The Pros & Cons of Vinyl Flooring on Stairs

Kenneth Wilson

Let's say you've been meaning to do a timely stair flooring replacement for quite some time now. The wide selection of flooring types only makes it more challenging to choose the best one for your needs– but we're here to present a great choice: vinyl flooring on stairs.

Besides its famous use for bathrooms and kitchens, it's a cost-effective and high-quality flooring material to place on the stairs.

To assist you in making an informed decision, let's discuss the pros and cons to expect in installing vinyl floors on your stairs.

Using Vinyl Flooring on Stairs

Two types of vinyl floorings are commonly used on stairs: tile vinyl flooring (which resembles ceramic tiles) or sheet flooring.

Vinyl flooring has long since been renowned as a popular, durable flooring. Its perks include relatively easy maintenance, water resistance, and durability. Since it has a balanced firmness, it has a comfortable underfoot feel as it springs a little when walked on. Nowadays, it also has many beautiful finishes you may choose from. (Related: EVP and LVP: Which Vinyl Plank is Right for Your Project?)

However, it also has its downsides, just like other building materials. If you're considering installing vinyl flooring on your stairs, let's discuss the many pros and cons in detail.

The Good in using Vinyl Flooring on Stairs

1. Easy Installation

The many developments in vinyl flooring paved the way for this material to have a relatively easy installation. Before, vinyl flooring was only available in large sheets compared to today's tiles and planks. You don't need to do any sawing or hammering for its installation process.

Several luxury brands also introduced "self-adhesive" vinyl flooring planks. You can just remove the backing on the subfloor as you put it into place.

2. Cost-effective Material

Starting at $3 to $6 per sq ft, luxury vinyl flooring is affordable for the stairs than wooden floors or carpets.

Besides, vinyl material also has cheaper maintenance than other standard flooring types. It allows you to save more money in the long run.

3. Stunning Look

Are you longing to add a specific "wow" factor to your stairs? Well, vinyl flooring may help you with that. The material offers different creative patterns and textures today.

For instance, there are stone and marble-like vinyl flooring (slate and travertine) or wood-like finishes that appear convincingly natural.

4. Highly Durable

Several vinyl flooring materials are made to be stain-resistant and waterproof. This ability eliminates possible mold growth, making the material ideal to use for bathroom and kitchen settings.

Additionally, it’s also expected to last up to 10 to 20 years.  You can expect your new vinyl flooring on the stairs to last through wear and tear, as the surface can effectively resist any scratches and stains.

5. Easy on the Feet

With its soft feel when walked on, vinyl flooring on your stairs will be comfortable on the feet. Unlike ceramic tiles, it also doesn't get too cold or hot during different seasons.

It has a natural shock absorbance that makes it comfortable to walk and stand on even for quite a while.

Pro tip: Ensure installing the correct vinyl underlayment to help cushion your steps as you walk on the stairs floor. Several vinyl materials also have foam backing, improving impact sound transmission.

6. Easy to Clean

If you're not the biggest fan of having to clean your stairs frequently, vinyl flooring is your best bet. It can be easily wiped down as it's resistant to water or moisture damage.

The Bad in using Vinyl Flooring on Stairs

As previously mentioned, using vinyl floors on your stairs also has its share of setbacks. Here are some of them to consider.

1. Tough to Remove

After the adhesive backing hardens, you'll find that the glue will be challenging to remove. While this is excellent if you're satisfied with your existing floors, it may present some challenges once you decide it's time to update it.

Don't worry. All you need is a bit of elbow grease to remove vinyl floors. It's best to prepare your time and patience for the removal process, too.

Pro tip: Ensure that the vinyl is placed with utmost precision. If it has been haphazardly installed, it may look like a mess.

Incorrect placement may ruin the look of the vinyl floors instead of mimicking the look of natural or wood tiles.

2. Older Vinyl Floors Could have Asbestos

Older homes, such as those built before the 1980s, are likely to have asbestos in their vinyl floors. Asbestos has been linked to several health risks, including cancer.

We don't mean to sound the alarm here. If you're 100% sure that your vinyl floors are in prime condition, without any cracks and the like), there's a high chance the asbestos is contained safely.

If you want to remove or replace your old vinyl floors, it's best to hire a professional to handle them for you.

They can also test the floors for any asbestos presence. These professionals have the right tools and expertise to remove the toxic flooring on your behalf if found on the floors.

3. Possible Environmental Impact

If you want your home to be as green as possible, vinyl may not be the best option for this initiative. The material is considerably non-biodegradable so that it may stay as compost for long years without any decay.

Additionally, it also presents inconsistencies in various substances. It makes vinyl challenging to recycle. When burned, vinyl material is found to produce harmful fumes such as Dioxin and Phthalates, which may damage the environment. Exposure to these gasses may also put your health at risk (asthma and kidney or lung problems)

Vinyl flooring is composed of polyvinyl chloride and other compounds such as fillers, pigments, plasticizers, and stabilizers.

Since manufacturers are now aware of the many ill effects of PVC, many are now producing vinyl flooring with lesser levels.

4. Surface Liability

Since vinyl flooring has a soft cushion feel, it is at an increased risk of frequent scratches or unwanted cuts. The good news is that vinyl plank or tile may be individually removed if damaged. It makes the replacement process a breeze.

Let's say you place heavy furniture or appliances near the stairs. In that case, you may use protective coasters or foot pads to protect your vinyl plank flooring.

5. Underlayment Issues

Every vinyl flooring requires a flat, even, and smooth subfloor. That said, any subfloor faults (such as dirt particles or uneven surfaces) may be visible on the vinyl flooring's result.

Picture out the little bumps and bubbles on the vinyl surface– it makes for a rather untidy sight, right?

To ensure a flawless vinyl surface floor on your stairs, you will need to have the correct vinyl flooring underlayment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use vinyl floor for my stairs?

Vinyl floors can give many homes a complete and harmonious decor, making them suitable for your stairs. It is also significant due to its small size and easy installation process. You can use a vinyl sheet if you need to cover the corners of the stairs because it can quickly spread out at once. You can opt for vinyl-made stair treads; either way, the suitable layout can still give you a flawless finish.

Can I use luxury vinyl on the stairs?

Despite its high price, luxury vinyl is considered the best choice to use on the staircase. It can produce a pleasing and performing floor and stairs. It can give a much more solid ceramic or hardwood feel due to its thickness. If you prefer a simple yet striking look, the luxury vinyl is also best for ceramic and wood-looking ideas. It is ideal for those who like unique styles for their stairs.

Kenneth Wilson
December 12, 2021

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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