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How to Choose a Style of Stair Tread Nosing

stair tread nosing

Whether you have a grand entrance with a sweeping staircase or a simple set of steps leading to your basement, stair tread nosing is an important safety feature. And while its purpose is mostly utilitarian, that doesn’t mean you can’t install something that looks attractive. When choosing a specific type of stair tread nosing, there are several different qualities to look for. Depending on the environment, material, and your desired look, you need to be sure that the nosing you install works for your home and your needs.

Consider the Environment and Choose Your Material

Before you add stair tread nosing, think about the environment where it will be located. Is it going to be in an area with a lot of foot traffic, or will it be installed on a small staircase that only you use? This factor can make a difference when you choose the material for the nosing. If the area will undergo a lot of use, select something that’s durable and won’t get damaged very easily. A few of the most commonly used materials for stair tread nosing include PVC, rubber, aluminum, and wood. You can also find nosing made of lightweight metal in a variety of finishes like brass, silver, or bronze.

Think about the area where the nosing will be installed and base your material off of that. If you have a large staircase in a busy area of your home or business, you may need something made of PVC that provides a good foothold. If the staircase is going to be in a place that’s highly visible, consider adding something with an attractive finish or one that matches your current flooring color. Basic stair nose treading made of aluminum or PVC works well in places that are more hidden and not as visible to your visitors or customers. Don’t forget the material of your stairs. If they’re made of hardwood, bamboo, or engineered wood, you may want to install something made of wood in a finish that complements the existing staircase. For tile, laminate, veneer, or metal stairs, PVC might be the better option since it can easily grip onto this material and remain in place after it’s installed.

stair tread nosing

Choose Your Stair Tread Nosing Shape

Since residential stair tread nosing is made to look attractive, you’ll also want to choose the right shape for your stairs. Similar to the designs of kitchen countertops, the nosing comes in a variety of shapes that can enhance the look of your stairs and give them a uniform look that meshes well with your home’s overall décor. Here are the most common shapes of nosing you can choose from:

  • Pencil round: this shape resembles a sideways pencil and has slightly rounded corners with no sharp edges. The face of the nosing is flat and looks attractive on both modern and traditional staircases. This shape is an excellent choice for households with kids since the edges aren’t as rough as some other options in case your children take a tumble.
  • Square: despite what the name implies, the edges of this shape are actually slightly rounded. The rounded edge helps to prevent visible damage like dents, nicks, and scratches. The square shape will give your stairs visible definition and a bit of dramatic impact.
  • Half-round: also referred to as “bullnose,” this shape offers a smooth and curvaceous design on the edges with a flat surface between. Similar to a half-moon, the half-round shape is often applied to the bottom stair that extends a bit further out from the remaining stairs, also known as the landing.
  • Full round: this tread nosing curves all the way around the edge and onto the front of the nosing, giving it a smooth look and feel. This design looks elegant for grand staircases but it does not offer as much slip protection as other shapes. It is most frequently used only on the landing.
  • No overhang: this style is unique because it has a sleek look. The nosing sits directly flush with the riser below to make it look like the stairs are one continuous piece of wood. It helps reduce the chances of tripping while creating a contemporary, minimalist look.
stair tread nosing

Flat metal stair tread nosing with no overhang.

Finishing Your Look

Once you’ve decided on the material and shape, it’s time to decide what you want the final product to look like in your home. Are you going for a uniform look that matches your stair material, or do you want something that’s featured in a contrasting color or material from your current flooring? If you have dark wood stairs, installing a brass stair tread nosing will certainly stand out. Alternatively, you can add something that matches perfectly with your stairs so that the nosing is barely noticeable. It really comes down to your personal preference in terms of taste and safety.

BuildDirect can custom make stair treads and noses to your size and color specification. This nosing is available in hardwood, engineered hardwood, and bamboo for a perfect match. The wood moldings are made from a natural material, so there may be a variation in color and wood grain. Each piece of molding is made to order and you can choose from a variety of shapes and sizes to give you the perfect look in your home. The moldings are made from a different species than the floorboards but they are created to complement your flooring as closely as possible for a beautiful aesthetic.


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