White Stair Risers vs Wood – What Looks & Performs Best?

Updated: | Author: Brad Javernick | Affiliate links may be present.

Whether the stairway is located in the foyer or off the entryway, it is usually the first thing you see when you walk into a house. Therefore, it can set the tone for the rest of the home.

You want to make sure that your stairway matches your surroundings, complements the rest of your home, and suits your personal style.

White stair risers with a wood tread give a traditional, classic, and formal look, while wood risers give a casual and rustic look. White risers offer a nice contrast between the wood tread and the white paint. On the other hand, wood stair risers are a comparatively lower-maintenance option, best suited for high-traffic homes.

White risers bring out the natural beauty of the wood on the tread, and they make the stairway and surrounding area look more spacious. However, they get scuff marks, which could make the stairs look dingy and they require more time to maintain.

Wood risers work better for high-traffic homes and you don’t need to worry about scuff marks. However, it’s easier and faster to touch up the paint or repaint white risers than it is to replace the wood risers. Also, the wood tile you choose for the stairs can go out of style quickly.

What Are Stair Risers?

Each stair on a home’s stairway has two parts. The tread is where the foot is placed as you climb up and go down the stairs. The vertical part of the stairs between each stair is known as the riser.

What Looks Better?

It mainly depends on the kind of look you want for your home.

Features of White Risers

  • White risers look better if you want to give your home a more traditional, classic, and formal look.
  • They provide a nice contrast between the white paint and the wood treads.
  • White risers tend to highlight the natural wood of the tread.
  • They also make the staircase and surrounding walls look more spacious.
  • White risers can help to brighten a narrow or poorly lit stairway.
  • They can emphasize a darker stain tread or darker colored surrounding walls

Features of Wood Risers

  • Wood risers look better if you want to give your home a more casual and rustic look.
  • They hold up better in high-traffic homes.
  • Wood treads with wood risers will exactly match the color and wood of your hardwood floors.
  • With wood risers, you can choose the type, style, and design of your wood flooring and staircase to have it reflect your own style.
  • There are numerous wood options you can choose from for the wood including oak, poplar, maple, and pine.

What Performs Better?

To answer this question, ask yourself how much time you want to spend maintaining your stairs. Wood risers require maintenance a lot less frequently.

White Risers

While white risers give your stairway a refined and formal look for your home, there are some disadvantages you should consider when choosing between white and wood risers.

Scuff marks are the biggest disadvantage. Scuff marks are readily noticeable on the white paint of the risers.

The stairway is often one of the first features of the home you and your guests will see when you walk into the home. Noticeable scuff marks on white paint make the stairway look dingy when you enter the home and look up at them.

In order to keep the white risers from looking dingy from scuff marks, you will need to spend more time cleaning and touching up the paint than you would with cleaning wood risers.

Wood Risers

Wood risers give your home a casual and rustic look. There are advantages and disadvantages to wood risers in comparison to white risers.

Wood risers are a good choice for high-traffic homes because you don’t need to worry about scuff marks.

On the other hand, it’s easier to simply touch up or repaint white risers than it is to remove and replace wood risers.

Also, the type of wood you choose can go out of style quickly.

What Type of Paint Should You Use for Stair Risers?

If you want to paint your stair risers white, I recommend going with a semi-gloss paint. They tend to be more resistant to everyday wear and tear and can also be cleaned easily. You should also apply at least two coats of paint.

Final Thoughts

White risers look beautiful giving your home a traditional and elegant look, however, they may not be a good choice for a high-traffic home. Constantly cleaning scuff marks on the white paint or repainting risers in high-traffic homes may be too time-consuming to maintain.

While wood risers may be a better choice for high-traffic homes, it is much easier to repaint the tiles white than it is to remove and reinstall wood risers. Ultimately, you should choose the option that is a better match for the look you want for your home and a better match for your lifestyle.

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About Brad Javernick

Brad is a licensed home inspector and the editor of Home Oomph. He's a massive DIYer, and loves to take on new home renovation projects!

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