How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring On Stairs in 6 Steps
| Fact Checked By: Sonal Agarwal
Published: April 13, 2021 | Updated: January 7, 2022
Thinking about updating your staircase with new luxury vinyl flooring, but you’re not sure if you can install it yourself? Good news! This guide will show you how to install vinyl plank flooring on stairs in just six steps.
Though it can seem intimidating at first, it’s actually not that difficult to install flooring on stairs. And we’re here to make it even easier. Learn what tools and materials you’ll need, and follow step-by-step instructions to complete your next DIY project.
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Tools and Materials
To ensure your vinyl plank flooring installation is a success, you need to start with the right tools and materials for the job. Here’s what you will need!
- Caulk gun
- Fine-tooth blade
- Tape measure
- Carpenter square
- Drill or nail gun
Before you install vinyl planks, you need to prepare the stairs. Keep these tips in mind as you get everything ready for installation.
You’ll need to let your vinyl planks acclimate to your space for up to 48 hours, so you’ll have plenty of time for preparation.
- Remove any existing molding or trim around the stairs
- You need to make sure there is room for the stair nose (the top edge trim of the stair). To do this, remove stair overhangs using a jigsaw, and cut back the baseboard.
- Ensure the stairs and any landings are level, without any bumps. You can level out cracks or bumps (like exposed screws) by using caulking
- Sweep or vacuum up any dirt or dust
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How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring on Stairs
Now, it’s finally time for the main event – installing the vinyl planks on your stairs! We’ve got step-by-step instructions to walk you through the whole process. As you install, you should start from the bottom of the staircase and work your way up.
How to Install a Stair Riser
A stair riser is the vertical surface of each stair. The first thing you need to do is determine if you want to install vinyl planks on this surface, or if you want to give it some other treatment, like staining or painting it in a coordinating color.
If you choose to install vinyl flooring on each stair riser, here’s what you’ll need to do.
- Measure the length and height of the riser and cut a vinyl plank to fit.
- Spread adhesive on the back of the plank and firmly press it against the riser.
- Fasten the corners and edges with screws or nails, so the plank stays secure as the adhesive dries. Don’t install fasteners in the middle of the plank, where they are easier to see.
Measure and Cut the Tread and Stair Nose
The stair tread is the flat part of the stair, the part that you walk on. Over time, your stairs may have shifted, so the space where your tread fits may not be exactly square. You can use a carpenter square to check this.
A stair nose is a piece of trim used on the top edge of each stair. The stair nose creates a more polished look, makes the stairs safer, and ensures the edges of the steps don’t wear down quickly from high traffic.
Some stair treads come with the stair nose built-in, so you only have to work with a single piece! This saves you time and makes installation a lot easier.
|Pro Tip: It’s important to measure every single stair as you install. The dimensions are probably not the same from step to step.|
- Measure the bottom stair tread and determine if it is square. You may have to cut the edges at an angle to ensure the corners fit if the tread isn’t square.
- When you measure the depth of the tread, make sure to account for the width of the stair nose. You will need to cut the vinyl plank short enough to make sure the stair nose fits exactly on the edge of the stair.
- If the depth of the stair is wider than a single plank, you’ll need to connect an adjacent plank to fill the space. After you cut along the length of the second plank (rip cut) to make it fit, the partial plank should be positioned at the back of the stair tread, with the full plank at the front.
- Dry lay the tread and nosing to make sure everything fits before you install it.
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How to Install a Stair Tread
Once everything fits perfectly, it’s time to install!
- Apply adhesive to the back of the stair tread and lay it in place, pressing down firmly as you do so.
- Install nails or screws in the corners and along the back edge where they will be less obvious and covered by a riser if you’re using them.
How to Install a Stair Nose
Stair nose installation depends on the type of nosing you have. There are two kinds. One type snaps over the vinyl plank. The other type doesn’t go over the plank but instead requires a strip of wood called a shim. Determine which kind of stair nose you have, and follow the directions accordingly.
If you don’t need a shim:
- Simply spread adhesive onto the nosing and fit it over the tread to cover the edge of the stair.
- You should not drive fasteners through this kind of stair nose.
If you need a shim:
- First, glue down the shim over the bare edge of the stair, and then glue the nosing on top of that. It should not cover the stair tread at all.
- Drive four or five fasteners along the length of the nosing, keeping them an inch from the edge of the tread.
|Pro Tip: You can skip this whole process if you install a one-piece stair cover that combines the stair tread and nose. It’s DIY-friendly and creates a seamless look on your stairs.|
Repeat Steps Until Stairs Are Complete
You can follow the steps above for each stair until you finish the project. Remember to work your way up the stairs, and not down. If you have stair landings, below you can find instructions to install vinyl planks on a landing!
How to Install Vinyl Planks on a Landing
If you want to install vinyl planks on a stair landing, you can follow the same directions that you would with a standard floor. The only change is that you need to add a stair nose along the edge first.
- Measure the dimensions of the landing. Based on this, calculate how many rows you need, and determine if you need to rip cut the final row of planks to fit along the wall.
- Cut the planks to fit and do a dry lay to make sure everything fits together nicely before permanently installing.
- Start by installing the first full plank and the stair nose at the edge of the landing. Then work your way back to the wall. These planks should be glued down, and not floated.
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If you still have some questions about installing vinyl planks on stairs, don’t worry! We’ve got the answers.
What is a stair riser?
A stair riser is the vertical surface of a stair. Not all staircases have risers, and you don’t always have to install flooring on them. They can also be stained or painted.
What is a stair tread?
A stair tread is the surface of the stair where you walk or “tread.”
What is a stair nose?
A stair nose is a piece of trim placed on the edge of a stair. Is it designed to reduce the risk of tripping or slipping, and it makes the edge of the stair more durable since that’s where most of the foot traffic is focused.
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Give yourself a pat on the back, because now you know how to install vinyl flooring on stairs! See, it wasn’t so bad.
Once you know the basic steps, you can apply this lesson to other types of flooring, like laminate or even solid hardwood. The choice is all yours. Are you ready to start your project?