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9 Different Types of Wood Used For Stairs

In all homes, stairs always rise as a beautiful structure that provides elegance to every home. As a structure that we may not be able to see from all angles, we must take advantage of what we have in sight to make it look beautiful. When it comes to design a stunning staircase, the choice of the wood for the treads (stair parts) is essential. Not only will it be part of the aesthetic style of your home, you must also ensure the durability and longevity of the parts themselves. Among all the natural wood types available, certain types of wood (wood species) stand out for their unique properties and compatibility with various stair design themes.

This is why Dutchess Millwork enhances the characteristics of each type of wood with their functionality and charm, to guide you in choosing the one that will match your requirements.

Wood Stair Treads

1. Hickory

The rugged beauty of hickory’s appearance, which contains pronounced grain patterns, colour variance, and natural appearance can make each stair step a work of art.

Hickory is an excellent choice for rustic or farmhouse-style homes. It is one of the hardest and most durable woods available, ensuring that stair treads can withstand heavy foot traffic and the test of time.

2. White oak

White oak stands out as a superior selection for staircase treads, offering a blend of strength and classic beauty. Its hardy grain withstands frequent use, while its natural color palette, ranging from light beige to medium brown with an olive cast, adds warmth to any decor. Renowned for its straight, open grain and adaptability to stains and finishes, white oak is a versatile choice that harmonizes with diverse interior styles, making it a wise and attractive choice for enhancing a home’s staircase.

3. Maple

Maple emerges as a refined option for staircase treads. Maple wood is a sophisticated choice that offers a subtle elegance with its light tan and white colors. It’s durable enough to withstand regular foot traffic and features a gentle grain pattern that complements interior designs without overpowering them. Maple is an ideal selection for those seeking a modern yet understated aesthetic in their staircase, providing a perfect balance between functionality and style.

4. Mahogany

Mahogany is a luxurious wood choice for stair treads, known for its rich reddish-brown color and fine grain that lends a smooth, sophisticated finish. It’s highly durable, making it suitable for the wear and tear of staircases, and its workability allows for detailed craftsmanship. Choosing mahogany means investing in a timeless elegance that can adapt to various interior designs, ensuring both beauty and longevity for your staircase.

5. Walnut

Walnut wood is a luxurious option for stair treads, known for its deep, rich colors and unique grain patterns that add depth and warmth to a staircase. It’s durable, with good stability, and its darker tones help conceal dust, making it practical for everyday use. Walnut’s elegance and practicality make it a favored choice for those seeking a sophisticated and enduring staircase design.

6. Pine

Pine is an economical and adaptable wood choice for stair treads, known for its light color and ability to fit various design styles. While softer than hardwoods, it offers a good balance of durability and ease of customization, making it a practical option for those seeking a cost-effective yet charming solution for their staircase.

7. Cherry

Cherry wood is a luxurious choice for staircase treads with its warm rich hues that deepen over time, creating a lustrous patina. The fine, straight grain and smooth texture give it an elegant appearance. While not the hardest wood, cherry strikes a balance between beauty and functionality, making it a sought-after option for sophisticated homes.

8. Cedar

Cedar is an excellent choice for stair treads, offering a unique combination of aesthetic appeal and durability. Its characteristic red hue and straight grain provide a refined look, while its natural resistance to rot and environmental changes ensures longevity. Cedar’s soft texture and pleasant aroma contribute to a staircase that is not only visually appealing but also naturally enduring.

9. Ash

Ash wood is an outstanding type of material for stair treads, blending lightness and durability. Its light-colored sapwood and varied heartwood offer a versatile aesthetic, suitable for many design styles. With a straight grain and coarse texture, ash is resilient against shock and heavy use, ideal for indoor stairs. It’s a cost-effective hardwood alternative, providing lasting visual appeal for beautiful staircases.


10. Poplar

Poplar is a wood that offers a unique richness with its slightly darker grain, making it an excellent choice to add warmth to a staircase or to complement the lighter tones of a white oak. It’s one of the more affordable options for stair treads, though it is less durable compared to hardwoods like oak, maple, or hickory. Poplar’s grain appearance and rich color can enhance the aesthetic of a home, providing a cost-effective yet attractive solution for staircases.

Best Wood For Indoor Steps

When choosing the best wood for interior staircase treads, whether you’re looking for the traditional elegance of oak, the rugged durability of hickory, or the rich warmth of walnut, those wood types could meet your functional and design needs for a stunning staircase.

Best Wood For Outdoor Steps

For outdoor steps, the best wood options are those that combine durability, resistance to rot and decay, and aesthetic appeal considering the climate, the design of the stairs, and the level of maintenance you’re willing to undertake to ensure longevity and safety. Here are some top choices: 

1. Pressure-Treated Lumber

Ideal for outdoor use due to its resistance to rot and long-lasting nature. It’s a smart choice for ground contact and can be stained or painted after drying.


Offers a refined look with a nice red tint and luxurious grain. It’s slightly softer but lasts almost as long as treated wood and works better with oil-based paints.

Exotic Hardwoods (like Mahogany or Teak)

Provide luxurious, craftsman-like results. They are expensive but gorgeous and require sealing to maintain their beauty.


If you plan to paint your stairs, pine is an easy-to-work-with and inexpensive option. Ensure it is well painted to protect against rot.

Other Rot-Resistant Woods

Such as Douglas Fir, Teak, Black Locust, and certain types of Cedar, are also suitable for outdoor stairs due to their natural resistance to decay.

Best Type of Wood For Stairs is Your Choice

In the end, the best type of wood for stairs truly depends on your personal preferences, the overall design of your home, and your specific needs. Whether you prioritize elegance, resilience, or cost-effectiveness, there’s a wood species that will elevate your staircase and make it a stunning focal point in your living space. So go ahead, choose the wood that resonates with your style and enjoy the journey of creating a beautiful and functional staircase


What timbers are used for stairs?

Pine is the most common timber used to manufacture staircases. It is easy to work with, ideal for painting and can be stained, varnished, or waxed.

What type of wood to use for stair stringers?

Stair stringers, which are the main structural components of stairs, are available in a variety of natural woods, including oak, maple, and walnut. They can be made from engineered or pressure-treated wood. These stringers come either pre-cut for ease of installation or uncut for those who prefer a custom fit.

Which wood is best for staircase railing?

Oak is popular for staircase railing because is highly durable and has a beautiful fine-grained texture. Keep in mind that both red and white oak varieties offer enhanced resistance to warping and are quite amenable to various woodworking processes.

Is pine or oak better for stairs?

You can choose based on your budget, desired look and expected traffic. Pine is less expensive than Oak and has an excellent finish, but is not hard or strong enough compared to Oak. Oak is a strong and beautiful wood that will give you beauty a long time, but will be more expensive.

What is the best wood to use for outdoor steps?

For outdoor stair treads, you have several options, such as pressure-treated lumber. It is highly durable and rot-resistant, making it a practical choice. Natural hardwoods like mahogany or teak are luxurious but costl. Pine is affordable and easy to work with, ideal for painted stairs. Cedar offers a beautiful red tint and grain, with natural longevity.

Should I use pressure-treated wood for outdoor stairs?

Yes, using pressure-treated wood strikes a balance between durability, affordability, and practicality, making it an ideal choice for outdoor stairs that need to withstand the rigors of outdoor conditions. Pressure-treated wood is specifically treated to resist decay, insects, and weather conditions, making it a durable option for outdoor use. It’s commonly used for deck stairs and other outdoor structures where the stairs are exposed to the elements.

What is the strongest wood for stairs?

The selection will be between Pine, Oak and Hickory, certainly you’ll select the one that matches your requirement. Pine is softer than oak but the stairs treads have incredible durability. Hickory provides durability and beauty, but is the most expensive. The traditional Oak is the best selection, has a variety of colors and you can use all along the stair, like for stringers, railings, treads, post and balusters

What is the best wood for interior stairs?

Due to the durability and various color options, the Oak remain as a favorite among the other woods, can be used to match various design styles.