Stair Riser Ideas

Stair risers are an often over-looked part of the home. Decorating stair risers and treads can add plenty of style and personality to your space. Take a look below to get some inspiration with these stair riser ideas.

What Are Stair Risers?

A stair riser is the vertical space between one stair tread and another stair tread. Risers may be closed or open, depending on the type and style of stairs. Risers are often confused with stair treads which are the horizontal surfaces on a set of stairs that you step on when moving between the different levels of a home. The standard stair riser height in the United States is between 7 inches and 4 inches. It is always best to consult your local building codes and you should always follow the measurements as stated by your local building codes for stair risers.

Stair Riser Ideas

Continue reading below to see some of my favorite stair riser ideas and get inspired to decorate, update, or replace your stair risers.

White Stair Risers

One of the simplest and most popular ways to decorate stair risers is to paint them in a nice white color. White painted stair risers provide a nice contrast between the bright white paint and the natural wood of the treads. White risers also have the benefit of making your staircase look bigger and wider while also brightening the space.

As far as what sheen to select for you white painted stair risers I would always recommend using a semi-gloss paint for risers. This is because the stairs are a high traffic area and the white painted stair risers will almost certainly get scuffed up and you want to be able to clean them up occasionally and the semi gloss paint will allow you to do just that.

If you choose to paint your stair risers white check out these white paint color reviews I have previously written about on the blog; Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace, Sherwin Williams Greek Villa and Behr Whisper White.

Black Stair Risers

Black stair risers with wooden treads and a black handrail
Via Five Point Construction

I absolutely love the recent trend of black stair risers or, any dark color for that matter. Black stair risers instantly create a beautiful focal point for your entire home. I especially love the look of black stair risers with a light wood stained tread. This design leads your eye directly to the stair landing and the design elements located there.

Since these stairs are open and receive plenty of natural light, painting the stair risers black is an excellent design choice. It doesn’t make the space feel dark or enclosed which could easily happen if your stairs aren’t as open as the staircase shown here. This design would also require less cleaning than white painted risers as black would hide the dirt and grime better than white. I love the look of a black stair riser and a light stained wood tread. You could even add a nice bright white runner to enhance this look even more.

Wood Stained Stair Riser

Stained wood risers are a classic and timeless look that never goes out of style. You can choose a light wood stain to maintain an open and inviting space or choose to use a dark wood stain for your stair risers to create a unique focal point in your home. One thing to keep in mind if you are choosing to use wood stain on your stair risers is their condition. If the stair risers previously had carpet affixed to them then the wood may not be in great shape and the flaws in the wood will be put on full display once stained. Additionally in newer homes, the stair risers tend to be made from plywood or some other cheap material so installing an overlay may be necessary prior to moving forward with using wood stain in your home.

Wood stains are much more durable and longer lasting than painted stairs. Painted stairs will have to be frequently touched up to maintain that clean and crisp look.

Typically if you wanted to use wood stain on the stair riser you would use wood stain on the tread as well, obviously that’s not a requirement but it is uncommon to see a wood stained stair riser and a painted tread. 

If you love the look of a wood stained staircase check out these wood stain reviews for inspiration for your next remodel blue wood stains, gray wood stains and white wood stains.

Wallpaper on Stair Risers

Stair risers with floral wallpaper attached. The treads are white and the walls are a lovely shade of baby blue
Via Brewster Wall Coverings

Another stair riser decor idea is to use wallpaper. There are so many options when it comes to wallpaper, from bright colorful patterns to darker whimsical designs. Be sure that the wallpaper you choose is a high-quality one and will hold up well in an area of your home that receives plenty of traffic. Wallpapering stair risers is a great way to add some personality to your staircase. It also provides visual interest, making the space more dynamic and interesting. Whether you prefer bold, bright colors or delicate floral prints, there’s a wallpaper design for everyone’s stair risers. Wallpaper is also super easy to install. I recently completed a project that can turn any wallpaper into removable wallpaper.

Wallpaper is relatively inexpensive so it can be easily removed if your tastes change or you want to refresh on your decor.

Stair Riser Tile Ideas

Homeowners are now adding porcelain or ceramic tile in unusual places including as an accent or focal point for their stair risers. Adding tile to your stair risers is just one of the ways you can transform your staircase from boring and bland to a focal point in your home. Porcelain and ceramic tiles offer a beautiful look and feel while providing the durability you need for your stair riser decor. 

Mosaic tiles on your stair risers is also a recent trend that is growing in popularity. I love that look as it gives a coastal staircase vibe and you know I am here for that. You could also use a textured tile for your stair risers. Textured tiles instantly give depth and add personality to any space.

Using tile on your stair risers can also give you an additional place to tie in your kitchen or bathroom tile decor with the rest of your home. If you have a coastal home what better way to continue that decor style upstairs then by having a coastal staircase to tie in the upstairs to the down stairs.

Something to consider before installing tile on your stair risers is what are you bonding the tiles to? Bonding the tiles directly to wood isn’t not usually recommended. What you should do is to first make sure the stairs are sturdy and can handle the additional weight of the stair riser tiles. Then you will want to add a nice layer of thin set and then attach a cement backer board onto the wood stair risers. Then you can apply your tile onto the cement backer board using an appropriate thin set for the tile you are applying to your stair risers. It is important to leave a small gap along the perimeter of the tile to allow for expansion. Once that is nice and dry you can now grout your tile stair risers. If this is out of your DIY capabilities consult a professional. On average you can expect to pay about $10 – $20 per stair riser depending on the materials used.

An added benefit of tiled stair risers is that maintenance is almost noting. Tiled staircase risers do not require touch ups like painted or stained risers do. 

Decals or Stickers

(Also known as peel and stick decals) If you’re looking for a more cost-effective solution or you are constantly moving around the world like me, you could choose to use stair riser stickers or decals. Decals are basically like giant stickers that can be attached directly on top of the wood stair risers. Removable stair riser decals also make for a easy DIY project. But, the primary benefit to stair riser decals is that they can easily be removed when its time to move or if your decor style changes. Peel and stick decals add a nice decorative element to your staircase while also being a budget friendly decor idea.

Stair riser decals are available in both paper and vinyl options, which makes them very easy to install without any major headaches. All you need is a bit of adhesive tack or double sided tape and your favorite design and you’ll have beautiful decor for your stairs in no time! 

Stencil Decor

If you’re looking for a truly unique way to decorate your stair risers, stenciling is the perfect solution. Stencils are available in a huge variety of styles. So, you’ll easily be able to find one that matches your home decor or one that adds some contrast and personality to your staircase. Stenciling is also super easy and requires very little prep work. There are tons of stencil tutorials available online so installations should be a breeze.

Vinyl Planks

Finally, if you’re looking to add character and appeal to your stair risers without sacrificing durability or functionality, you could choose to use vinyl plank flooring as stair riser decorations. Vinyl planks are a fantastic option for homeowners who want to decorate their stair risers but want something inexpensive and more durable than most other materials and easier to maintain.

Vinyl planks are waterproof, stain-resistant, and durable enough to handle constant foot traffic while also adding a beautiful aesthetic to any staircase. Plus, they can be custom cut in any shape or size allowing you to completely customize the design of your stairs.

Final Thoughts

As a side note when preparing your stair risers and treads for a remodel you can’t forget about the handrail. Handrails are often times made of the same material as the stairs and you probably want the handrails, stair risers and treads to all match.

Stair Riser Ideas: Conclusion

In closing , there are many different ways to decorate your stair risers, from black stair risers to white stair risers, vinyl planks and wallpaper. Whether you’re looking for a subtle or bold look, there are plenty stair riser ideas available to help you achieve the perfect decor for your staircase. So what are you waiting for? Get ready to start decorating those stair risers!

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