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What Are the Different Types of Stair Treads?

By Norma Jean Howland
Updated May 16, 2024
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Stair treads can be an important safeguard both inside and out, since they can prevent falls and injuries. These safety devices are made from different materials in a variety of styles. For example, oval, braided rug treads that add color and texture to a wooden staircase are available. Non-slip stair treads can also be made from cotton, rubber, vinyl, or fiberglass. For outdoor stairways, slotted steel treads are available as well as heated stair treads that melt snow and ice on impact.

Inside the home, stair treads not only keep homeowners safe but also protect the steps from scratches, wear, and tear. Some stair treads are miniature rugs, attached to each step, that have a texture that creates a non-slip surface. They can be oval, rectangular, or oblong and can cover all or part of the step. There are also fabric stair treads, made from cotton, with non-slip backing. This kind of tread can laid temporarily and removed for laundering or attached permanently with glue or carpet nails.

Rubber treads are used both indoors and out, some offering detailed scrollwork and intricate designs. Other types of rubber treads are actually constructed to be part of the riser itself, with ribbing at the edge of the step for traction. Vinyl treads are popular because they are available in colors that match most staircases. Since vinyl can mimic wood and may even be mistaken for it, this type of tread is often used for wooden stairways. Fiberglass treads are also helpful in preventing falls.

Outdoor stairways can be a challenge during the winter, and heated rubber treads can make maneuvering these stairs much easier. These treads maintain a constant temperature, keeping snow and ice from forming, no matter how cold it gets. Usually, they plug into an outlet and are secured to the stairs through grommet holes. They keep the stairs snow and ice free and come in sizes that fit most stairways.

Another type of stair tread is the open, metal type, which is used extensively on steel staircases in outdoor settings. This kind of tread has a slip resistant surface with openings that allow snow and ice to fall through, so that it does not build up. Usually, these treads are made from stainless steel, which is lightweight, sturdy, and economical.

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