Stair Treads: Frequently Asked Questions

Stair Treads: FAQs

What's the difference between vinyl and rubber stair treads?

Vinyl Stair Treads are the most common type of stair covering on the market and are ideal for light to medium-duty, indoor applications where traction is a concern but the cost is a major consideration as well. Vinyl treads are offered in the four most popular colors for commercial use and are a great option for emergency stairwells, garages, side and rear exits and any stairs needing greater traction.

Rubber Stair Treads are designed for more heavy-use commercial locations and the appropriate product for office buildings, schools, hospitals, high-traffic retail stores and the like. Rubber treads are available in a number of different styles, several thicknesses and a myriad of colors to suit any environment. Rubber offers more slip resistance, especially when wet, over vinyl and thus rubber stair treads can greatly increase traction on any stairwell.


Are matching risers and landing tiles available?

Risers are applied to the back (vertical rise) of the stair and provide a continuous, color-coordinated design with the corresponding stair treads. Coved stair tread risers are available in matching colors while more contemporary, corresponding colors are available for the landing floor tiles. Both straight edge and coved risers are available for rubber stair risers in all the same colors as the rubber stair treads. Matching color landing tiles are also available in rubber. Additionally, the straight rubber risers can be used as stringers to provide visual enhancement on the sides of the stairway.


Do you have samples?

Absolutely! We're happy to send out free color swatch samples so customers can get a good understanding of what they're buying before purchasing. Feel free to contact us with your address and we'll get the samples right out to you.


What's the best adhesive to use on my stair treads?

Each product pages lists the most appropriate adhesive to use for that particular product. In general, however, general, water-based, adhesives are ideal for environments where the smell could be an issue while contact cements best for constantly trafficked areas where the stairs can only be taken out of commission for a few hours. Other glues are designed for special use (stair tread noses, to meet certain government ratings, moist areas, etc.). The pros, cons and limitations are outlined in the description on each adhesive product page.


How can I prep my stairs for the stair tread installation?

All steps must be relatively level and free from nails, screws, staples and any major cracks as well as clean, dry and without any residual paints, oils, rust, grease, other floor coverings, glues or anything else that would not allow the new treads to lay flat and make full contact with the steps below.


Are vinyl and rubber stair treads oversized?

Yes, while metal treads are manufactured to exact specifications, rubber and vinyl treads are often slightly oversized so that they can compensate for steps that are slightly larger due to normal wear and tear, expansion and contraction over the years and natural variation. These treads can easily be trimmed to fit on-site without much hassle or experience needed.


How do we trim rubber and vinyl stair treads?

Vinyl and rubber treads can easily be trimmed in the field to ensure that each tread properly fits each step in its width (side to side) as well as its depth (front to back). Using a straight edge or T-Square will allow for easy trimming with a sharp blade in a razor (utility) knife or even a linoleum knife. If possible, the back of the tread should be cut with an underbevel for the best fit.


What if the depth of my stairs is different than the depth of the tread?

There is no need for stair treads to go to the back of the stair where it connects with the riser. Virtually all foot traffic travels across the first few inches when descending stairs and usually the first 6-8" while ascending steps. Plus, with vinyl and rubber treads, the high/low textured pattern does not continue all the way to the back of the tread. Thus, if the tread is not deep enough to reach the back of the stair it won't greatly affect the function. On the other hand, if the treads are deeper than the step (as they often are) then you can easily cut the treads down as described in the question above).


Can vinyl or rubber stair treads be used outdoors?

Although it's not at all uncommon to find both vinyl and rubber treads being used outside, even without any covering or awning above them, the elements can potentially cause these materials to wear down quicker than if they were placed indoors with the same amount of foot traffic. That being said, however, there is one type of rubber step covering, the Outdoor Recycled Rubber Stair Tread, that is designed specifically for outdoor use and will hold up well to rain, sun, UV light, snow, varying temperatures and the like. Plus, in general, rubber is more slip-resistant when wet and the formula of this recycled rubber tread has an even greater coefficient of friction which makes it ideal in these environments. All of the metal stair treads (aluminum, iron, etc.) are rated for use outdoors.


Why do vinyl and rubber treads sometimes crack along the front edge?

Without using an epoxy stair tread nose caulk a void is left between the nose of the stair and the stair tread and, with years of abuse and thousands and thousands of feet bouncing off the stairs, the nose of the tread can get stretched out and eventually crack. A small, simple bead of nose caulk on the underside of the nose of the tread will directly address and help prevent the stretching and cracking.

Are stair treads sold in sets or sold individually?

Commercial stair treads (those made of vinyl, rubber and metal) are always sold individually since different staircases may have a varying number of steps between floors, sometimes with a landing along the way; some areas have just a few steps up from, say, a sidewalk or, for instance, down a back entryway.  In residential settings, however, it is most common to have a staircase with 12 steps so residential (carpeted) stair treads are sometimes sold in a set in addition to being sold individually.

How can metal stair treads be customized/modified?  What colors should be used?  Holes or no holes?  Does installation hardware come with metal stair treads?

Metal stair treads - whether aluminum or iron - are a slightly more specialized type of commercial-grade stair tread and, as such, have more options.  First, although metal stair treads can be cut down in the field using the proper equipment, it's easiest (and usually more precise) for the tread to be sized to the exact dimensions specified when being produced.  This ensures consistency and properly finished edges.  The width (left to right) direction of metal treads can be sized to within a fraction of an inch.  Several types of metal treads can also be customized to a specific depth (in addition to custom landings, angles, shapes and other platforms also being available).  Often metal (and fiberglass) step treads are available in either a solid color or with one color on the rear of the tread and another, usually brighter/more eye-catching color in the front.  This is done to visually warn users of where the tread ends and to be conscious and careful while traversing the staircase.  Although some parts of the country have regulations as to what color could/should be used, most often customers choose yellow or glow-in-the-dark for the front color and a darker color for the rear when purchasing two-color metal treads.  Metal stair treads are often secured to the steps by both an adhesive as well as an anchoring device depending on the situation/environment they're being placed in.  Including the pre-drilled holes allows for easier, more secure anchoring, especially via Tapcon screws, wing anchors or lag bolts. Unless otherwise noted, the holes are appropriately spaced based on the size of the tread and drilled per a standard format (though custom locations are also readily available).  Depending on the type of metal stair covering and whether or not pre-drilled holes are selected, all applicable installation anchoring hardware is always included.

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