Vinyl Stair Treads vs. Rubber Stair Treads
For commercial applications there are two types of stair treads available today – vinyl stair treads and rubber stair treads. Although similar in appearance, these two stair tread compounds offer different pros and cons depending on the situation. Following is an explanation of these pros and cons for both vinyl treads and rubber treads.
Vinyl Stair Treads are the most common type of stair covering on the market. Vinyl treads are a go-to product for lighter duty applications where traction is a concern but cost is major consideration as well. Vinyl stair treads, like rubber treads, must be glued down for permanent application. This allows for a solid stepping surface and helps prevent tripping. Each of the three thicknesses of vinyl treads are available up to 96” (8’) wide and can cut down to any width as needed. The ribbed top surface pattern helps scrape dirt and debris from shoes while increasing traction for greater slip resistance. Vinyl treads are offered in the four most popular colors for commercial use, which should correspond with and complement virtually any stairway. Corresponding color risers are available to provide a finished, continuous look. Additionally, these treads are available with grit strip inserts (similar to sandpaper in texture) for even greater traction as well as glow-in-the-dark inserts for those visually impaired or needing to meet specific code regulations. In general, vinyl treads are meant for light to medium traffic indoor locations and, thanks to their low cost, are a great option for emergency stairwells, garages, side and rear exits and any stairs needing a 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. Although a smooth surface pattern is available, all other rubber treads offer a high-low surface pattern, such as diamond, raised disk, ribbed, chevron, etc. designs. Having the textured surface increases slip-resistance and helps scrape dirt and debris from shoes. Rubber stair treads are available up to 72” (6’) wide and can also be cut down to any desired width. Both straight and coved stair risers as well as stringers are available in the 10 solid and 16 marbleized colors to complement all the rubber treads. Stair risers and stringers provide a clean, continuous appearance and further help protect the stairway. Furthermore, matching pattern and color rubber floor tiles are also available. Like vinyl treads, rubber stair treads are available with both grip strip inserts in several colors as well as glow-in-the-dark inserts for visually impaired individuals and/or low light areas. In general rubber treads are specified for medium to high traffic locations where safety, and perhaps appearance, are the most important factors.
Vinyl and rubber stair treads both offer protection while increasing slip-resistance in stairwells. While both are available in different colors and thicknesses, choosing the correct stair tread will depend on location, traffic, budget, aesthetic and building code concerns.