Laminate on Stairs?

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Calman

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Hi folks!

I am about to tackle installation laminate on our main stairs in the home (I know, GASP, splits the audience in half!!! lol).

Okay, so after much research, the pros and cons, I still want to go this route. Our laminate is quite thick and textured with the green rubber backing on it. After asking advice from many professionals, 90% suggest removing the backing and gluing to the tread of the stairs. I am opting to install ½ sanded plywood (painted white) for the risers and make my own stair nose, as these are the costly part of the project, should you buy "off the shelf" laminate stair nose products.

So, my main question/concern right now sits with the stair nose. Although gluing down the stair nose is pretty obvious, I see many YouTube videos, where they use a nail gun to further secure the nose. My question is, can I nail the stair nose into the laminate tread edge, or do I still have to leave a gap on the front edge, where the stair nose overlaps the laminate tread (even although the laminate tread will be glued with no concern regarding expansion gaps).

I hope this makes some kind of sense, otherwise, I will attach a diagram of my intentions, or other examples from around the web.

Many thanks in advance, really appreciate any feedback on this!!

Best Regards,
Cal :)
 

nealtw

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I have walked up and down one set of stairs with the nose higher than the rest of the tread. It would not be in a house of mine, I don't understand why any insurance company would be happy about having and accident ready to happen in a house. If you can make you own nose make your own treads.
 

joecaption

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Just a really bad idea!
This has been asked and answered by real full time flooring guys on this and every DIY site I've seen and all said, and I agree 100%, no way!
Use real wood stair treads!
 

slownsteady

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Calman

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Thanks for the feedback guys, really appreciate it!!

I am now in a lot of doubt, as I thought that laminate on stairs was now considered a feasible options these days (especially as our laminate is pretty thick, textured and resilient). Our budget is tight, as we are pending a new roof upgrade in the coming weeks (6-7k), so since we had left over boxes of laminate from our upper floor, it seemed like something to check out, as far as the "stairs project" is concerned.

If it's a definite "no no" ... then it really annoys me that their are so many websites/youtube videos which suggest that laminate on stairs are a safe option, should you do your homework and take your time when installing. Most sites said that expansion gaps were not a concern, based on the minimal area the boards cover and again, with our laminate, it's said to be tougher than your everyday thin laminate planks. Of course, the only concern I read (which goes with any area of installed laminate flooring) .. was significant water (animal accidents/plumbing issues/flooding etc) getting between the joints and swelling the planks.

Could you outline what your concerns would be? (expansion, moisture, grip, stair nose safety etc.)

So, I really don't know what to do now, as I don't have the extra budget to go with the suggestions above and a bit depressing to learn that laminate is not an ideal method, regardless of hundreds of web sites suggesting it's a daisies and buttercups alternative to engineered/real wood applications.

Best Regards,
Cal
 

nealtw

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The ones I have seen , the nose is 1/4" higher than the tread . Just lay some on the nose of the treads that is 1/4" high and walk up and down the stairs. I was helping an elderly lady look at houses, she was very uncomfortable coming down where you had to be very sure of where you were putting your foot.
I found this, I have not seen it before. It does not overlap like a transition, I would do this one.
 
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bud16415

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I’m not a pro, but have done my share of laminate work.


I will not disagree with the pros but as a DIYer if it were mine and in your position I would go ahead and give it a try similar to your original plan.


I know the edging Neal is talking about that stands above and over the laminate and I would not want that on a stair also. If you have the ability to mill your own nose piece from wood, I don’t see a problem with filling in the tread with the matching laminate.


I would remove the padding as it will compress over time mostly in the center and leave a small trip hazard. I would have the nose piece solidly attached to the stair structure first and then just lay in the tread piece with a couple dabs of glue. It wont need expansion it is too small. I would rather see a small crack where the nose meets the tread than have a hump and overlap.


I did the blend between my kitchen and living room like this as there was a ¾ inch step. I made a threshold out of white oak that tapered down and wrapped around the door casing and trim about 8” wide. It has held up great and is very easy to walk over, no one trips. The only thing I did wrong was I should have replaced the attached pad at the edge with something solid as I got the little dip. I pulled it up and slid in a shim to solve that.


I would not nail anything into the edge of the laminate.


If you have the time and the material and not the money why not give it a try and see how it works.
 

mabloodhound

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If you decide to go ahead with this, I would nail the nosing to the sub-tread, not the laminate, along with the glue. A gap should not be necessary and do not have the nose higher than the tread.
 

joecaption

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I've done just one stairway with Laminate under durrest and used the nosing like Neal posted.
This house was new construction so everything needed to be inspected.
The inspector was not pleased with the nosing not sticking out the required 1 to 1-1/4" but let it go.
Years later the new homeowner had me tear it all out and replace with real wood treads because the nosing was cracking and the paper thin (what looked like peel and stick shelving paper) covering on the nosing had worn through and was peeling off.
 

bud16415

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I could be wrong but it sounded like the OP was going over existing steps and wanted to make and stain to match his own nose pieces from hardwood. Without photos it is hard to say what he is dealing with.


I agree some of this laminate trim is junk. The first floor I did was a cherry looking stuff. I took regular unfinished trim samples to my paint store and a piece of the flooring. They played around for a day and same up with a perfect match stain and poly. Still looks good 25 years later.


Making his own nose piece he can get the right hang out and finish it with another trim below. What he’s talking about making a new riser if he’s doing an overlay he can chop the old nose off before he starts.
 

Calman

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Many thanks for further detailed replies folks .... super appreciate it.

First of all, I have a ton of respect for the professionals in trades and I always value their opinion highly!!!

For an average home DIY'er .... my question would have to be: Q: Is laminate simply not a professionals choice, but done right, a "decent" enough approach for your average home owner?

Here are a couple of examples, which shows the stair nose ideas I have been researching. Of course, the depth of the laminate may not work with the Oak Nose example, but my amateur drawing may give you a better idea of what I am looking at. Of course, whichever way I go, removing the green rubber backing and gluing/nailing the nose to the original tread/sub floor (and not the laminate edge) would be my main focus. So, please see my attached photos, which hopefully help you understand my research to the possible approach to this project, so far!

Best Regards,
Cal :)
 

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nealtw

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Most people are co ordinated enough to step over a raised transition but on a stair case I believe they are dangerous as there are impossible to miss.
 

Calman

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Okay, so as the old phrase goes "Let the dog see the rabbit!"

So, with that said, I am now including (had to dig around in many, many, many DIY folders - said in Captain's Voice from Police Academy!!) .. a few photos of the project to date, so this will provide a better visual of what I have in front of me (in more ways than one).

As well as the attached photos, here are two web links, where I initially planned my approach/stair nose style/material, based on these images ...
http://actonlng.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/laminate-stair-nose-installation-do-you-want-to-install-laminate-flooring-on-your-stairs-shaw-laminate-stair-nose-installation.jpg
https://www.homedepot.ca/en/home/p.poplar-d4s-1x4x6-feet.1000172689.html

As you will see from my photos, the stringer on the railing side had a lip which was pretty beat up over the years and wold have caused a trickier install (even with the carpet nose removed). So ... I burned out the lip and installed plywood sections to vertically "level out" that side of the stairs, in the hope of creating an easier set up for the project ahead.

Best Regards,
Cal :)
 

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bud16415

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I also don’t care for the overlapping raised surface. That is made that way to let a large floor surface expand under the trim piece. For me with a stair tread there wont be this movement and the joint can be a tight butt up.


If you have the skills you can cut the T&G on the edge of the nose if you feel it needs locked in.
 

nealtw

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I would find a real hard wood 1x3 that could be stained and finished to match your material and make you own nose that matched the height if you have to add 1/8 or 1/4" under the lam. to make it work.
I believe they glue this stuff to the treads and if that is true, you could likely get away with just a but join between nose and Lam.
 

mabloodhound

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Overlapping the laminate is a bad idea. Butt joint like Neal said. And if thickness needs to be adjusted, cut a rabbit in the nosing.
 

Calman

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Hi folks!

I'm certainly warming to the Butt Joint approach, as it gives me hope in the laminate installation. I am fairly confident that I can achieve nice clean edges between the lengths of the laminate planks and hardwood stair noses, so I will gladly keep you in the picture, as the project progresses. I am still leaning towards 1x4's for the stair nose, as more of the nose surface can be secured to the stair tread/subfloor (that's my logic anyway). Also, would you recommend a strong gluing application under the laminate planks (the typical zig-zag lines of glue) ... or should i consider that sometime in the future, someone may want to remove the laminate on the stairs, therefore, a limited amount of glue to hold the planks would be a better approach??

Best Regards,
Cal :)
 

slownsteady

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Don't go light on the glue. The stairs under the lam will be trashed anyway if someone in the future wants to take them off. So you might as well make them as secure as possible.

I watched a few of the lam install videos on Youtube because of this thread. The thought that kept crossing my mind is "I wonder how those stairs are holding up now?" No one ever goes back and makes a video of the project one or two years afterwards. How can you tell who put it in right if you don't see the final result???
 

Mastercarpenty

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I make my own. Two long rectangles of plywood with a slot in the middle of both, and two triangles at the ends. Carriage bolts, washers and wing nuts attach everything. Perfect pattern every time. Works as well as the $100+ store-bought ones which I've also used.

Pro Tip: When working against inside skirts, always use a block and hammer-tap the entire length tight to the wall with the block first. Then when gauging the risers, set and lock the end angles, hold one side of the gauge with your thumb pushing the other side outward, then tap the unheld half outward with your hammer which helps push the skirts tight to the wall if anything happened to loosen up. Cut risers one thin pencil line wider than the gauge for a snug fit. When gauging the treads just push, don't tap, and cut the pencil line out but no more. Perfect fit every time.

Phil
 
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