Stair tread installation and maintenance tips

How To Install Stair Treads

The purchase of rubber or vinyl stair treads warrants proper installation and maintenance procedures in order to assure complete satisfaction. For unusual and special conditions, contact The FloorMat Store for recommendations.

Where To Install stair treads

Install stair treads on any smooth dry interior step provided the shape of the step conforms to the underneath contour of the stair tread; particularly at the section where the flat part of the tread joins the nosing. A tight fit between stair treads and steps is essential. We recommend the use of Epoxy Nose Caulk on all stair tread installations (required with adjust-a-nose treads).

Where Not To Install stair treads

If the shape of the steps does not conform or cannot be conformed to the shape of the stair tread, we do not recommend installation of stair treads unless special instructions are carefully followed. Although this is somewhat common practice, we do not advise installing rubber or vinyl stair treads on exterior steps. The patterns molded or extruded into the surface of rubber or vinyl stair treads will facilitate the channeling of some wetness through the recessed pattern and provide some anti-slip coefficiency, however any surface, even rubber and vinyl stair treads can be slippery and hazardous in wet, oily or icy conditions. It should also be understood that use of vinyl or rubber product might experience negative effects such as hardening, cracking, warping or curling due to exposure from UV light, acid rain and temperature fluctuations. When purchasing rubber or vinyl stair treads for exterior application, be aware the manufacture will not honor a warrantee for exterior use of these products.

Room Temperature

Materials, room and adhesives should be no less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees C) 48 hours prior to, during and after stair tread installation.

Repairing Worn and Uneven Edges

If an open space exists underneath the nosing of the stair thread when it is applied against the step you must fill the space with Epoxy Nose Caulk. It is essential that there be no space between the step and the stair tread when the installation is completed. Failure to apply epoxy nose caulk as needed may cause the front edge of the stair tread to crack and pose an un-safe condition if not replaced immediately. 

Preparation for Installation of Stair Treads

Surfaces of steps must be level, clean, dry and free from oil, grease, rust, paint, varnish and old coverings, adhesives and any other foreign substance. Wooden steps should be thoroughly nailed down.

Worn or dished-out steps, cracks, holes, depressions or any other irregularities on the step should be repaired by filling or sealing and smoothing with an appropriate underlayment compound.

Fitting and Cutting Stair Treads

Stair treads reads are usually supplied over size, with untrimmed ends, to allow extra material to compensate for variations in step dimensions.

Stair Treads should be individually trimmed to fit each step, both in depth and from side to side. The rear edge should be cut with a slight under-bevel for a better fit. The stair treads can be marked with an awl and cut using a steel straight edge and a linoleum knife. Caution is required to avoid personal injury while using any sharp tool to score or cut the material.

The most important factor in proper stair tread installation is to see that no air space exists underneath the nosing part of the stair treads. The stair tread must not flex or move as traffic walks across the steps. Epoxy Nose Caulk should be used under the nose of the stair tread to fill any air space as described on the label.

It is important to use the correct adhesive. For vinyl stair treads, contact adhesive must be used. For rubber stair treads treads, install with contact or suitable rubber flooring adhesive, depending on service conditions. Cove base adhesives are not recommended.

Installation of Rubber Stair Treads

After the steps have been prepared and the stair treads cut and fitted as described, begin installation by spreading adhesive on the stair step completely covering the surface and the nosing.

When using contact adhesive, the adhesive should then be spread on the bottom of the stair tread and completely underneath the nosing. Always follow instructions on label of adhesive container.

We suggest coating two steps and two stair treads at one time, then install the stair treads as described below. An alternate suggestion is to apply adhesive to every other step on a flight of stairs, install these stair treads; go back and do the remainder.

Install Stair Treads

Set the stair tread into its proper position on the step, beginning at the nosing and pushing back firmly and as tightly as possible, holding up the back surface of the stair tread. After nosing is completely in place, begin at the front and move back on the surface of the stair tread towards the riser; the stair tread should be pushed down firmly onto the step.

After installation is completed, roll newly installed stair treads with a hand roller, making certain that the stair tread nosing is fitted tightly against the step nosing. If any difficulty is experienced in holding the nosing to an under stair, use a few hardened steel headless brads to secure it while the adhesive is drying.

Rubber or vinyl stair risers should not be installed to extend up underneath the nose of the stair tread. The top of the stair riser should butt against the bottom of the stair tread nose.

Final Precautions

Any adhesive or caulking compound on the surface of the stair treads should be wiped off before it dries, using a cloth dampened in denatured alcohol. If adhesive has dried, remove carefully with #00 steel wool and denatured alcohol. Rub lightly to avoid dulling and scratching stair treads.

It is important that traffic be kept off the newly installed stair treads, until the adhesive has set up sufficiently to prevent movement and assure a firm bond.

 Where construction work by other trades requires traffic over newly installed stair treads, protect stair treads with heavy building paper or planking as needed.

Do not wash or apply any surface treatments to stair treads for abut one week after installation to allow sufficient time for the stair treads to become tightly bonded to the steps.

Maintenance Tips

The following simple steps for correct care are recommended:

Daily sweeping with soft hair push broom, also before and between washings, will cut down the number of washings and remove dirt and foreign matter.

During bad weather any accumulated rain or slush should be wiped promptly from stair treads to prevent slipping. Wipe up spillage before it has a chance to harden.

When cleaning is necessary, wipe with a cloth or damp mop, using clean room-temperature water. Do not flood stairs.

In stubborn cases, damp mop with room temperature water and solution of liquid detergent suitable for rubber floor covering or a solution of ammonia and water. Immediately rinse stair treads with clean room-temperature water, changing rinsing water frequently.