January 18, 2018

The Technical World of Stair Nosing


Stairs are some of the most dangerous areas of your residence and workplace. Even the slightest loss of balance can lead to falls, injuries or casualties. Studies show that these kinds of slips and falls are the most common cause of indoor injuries each year. They also account for over 50% of all the injuries reported to have occurred in public spaces. Stairs are the worst places to fall, especially when in descent. Moreover, the likelihood of serious injury is increased dramatically by the sharp edges of the stair treads.

But stairs are a necessity in today’s buildings, even those with elevators, as they provide a much needed escape route in case of fires or other emergency situations. Whether it’s a small home or an enormous office building, the responsibility of creating safe staircases rests on the shoulders of builders, engineers, project managers and code enforcement officials. Therefore, the use of stair nosing is highly recommended by New Zealand’s building safety regulations and standards.

What is Stair Nosing?

Let’s start with the basics. To decrease the risk of falls or slips on stairs, you need to apply a non-slip surface to either the whole stair or, at the very least, its leading edge. This can be done with special paint, anti-slip tape or, ideally, stair nosing.

Stair nosing (also called stair covers, stair edging, stair trims, stair treads and non-slip treads) significantly enhance the safety of a staircase. They can be made of many different materials but most are wood, metal, laminate, stone, or tile. Some stair nosing profiles have an anti-slip, grooved PVC tread that works especially well in wet areas. Stainless steel stair nosing profiles are also available and are highly suitable for protecting stairs in swimming pools, hospitals and other public areas, as they exhibit extraordinary resistance to damage and moisture.

Stair Nosing for Laminate

Many people install laminate flooring onto their stairs to give them a sophisticated appearance, making them look cleaner and more refined. Laminate flooring is easy to clean, highly durable and long-lasting. However, to make sure that your laminate stairs are safe, it is best to use a laminate with a matte or textured finish.

Stair Nosing for Carpets

Carpet stair nosing makes stairways more attractive. They also help people ascend and descend the stairs easily, as they offer more room for their feet to rest on. Usually, carpet stair nosings are recommended to have at least a one-inch depth. There is a wide range of metal stair nosings available for carpeted staircases which give a unique look to the stairs. These also help protect the edges of the carpet against fraying, resulting in a longer lifespan and reducing tripping hazards.

Stair Nosing for Vinyl

Vinyl is one of the most durable and commonly used materials for stairs. Vinyl stair nosing can be installed flush with vinyl treads to prevent unsightly and unsafe bumps from forming. In addition to being slip-resistant, vinyl stair nosing can be easily customized to match the colour and pattern of the vinyl treads. You can also mix-and-match colours to create an eye-catching contrast, improving visibility and safety.

Stair Nosing for Tile

Ceramic tile stairs are the ultimate in aesthetics, durability and ease of cleaning. But these tiles, by nature, have brittle edges that should not be left uncovered, otherwise they can be prone to developing chips and cracks. To protect these edges, we recommend classic stair nosings in solid brass, stainless steel or anodized aluminium.

PVC Stair Nosing

A range of flexible PVC stair nosings are available to protect vinyl, tile and carpeted tread edges. PVC stair nosings are available in smooth finishes or with a textured, slip-resistant finish for additional grip. Some PVC stair nosings are designed to fully encapsulate the tread’s edge to reduce daily wear and tear. These are available in many different sizes and colours, and are affixed to the stairs with adhesives.

External Stair Nosing

External stair nosings include aluminium profiles with anti-slip carborundum inserts, GRP stair nosings (also known as fibreglass stair nosings), hardwood stair nosings and slip-resistant rubber treads. However, profiles with diamond-textured inlays are the sturdiest and are usually used in high traffic and commercial settings. They are also incredibly slip-resistant and don’t fade when exposed to direct sunlight.

Brass Stair Nosing

Brass stair nosings are beautiful and add elegance to almost any staircase. Brass is naturally durable and unaffected by most corrosive chemicals. However, keep in mind that with the passage of time, brass oxidizes and tarnishes. Hence, you will need to treat the nosings regularly with a special polish to maintain their shine.

Glowing Stair Nosing

These high-tech stair nosings glow in the dark to prevent falls and slips in dim lighting. They consist of an anti-slip insert and a photoluminescent strip attached to an aluminium profile. This strip soaks up artificial and natural light during the day and emits it in dark situations, like in the evenings or during power outages. They are often featured in theatres, cinemas, auditoriums, lecture halls, garages and other shadowy interiors.

The Cost of Stair Nosing

When plans are being developed for a new building or the restoration of an existing building, there is often a limited budget allocated to flooring accessories like stair nosing. But, in many cases, these details play a huge role in the final appearance of the project. So, you might be wondering: how much does stair nosing cost?

The cost depends heavily on the brand and type of product chosen. On average, however, the following can be estimated in New Zealand:

  • 50mm x 30mm x 2.4m = $60.00 – $90.00
  • 75mm x 35mm x 2.4m = $90.00 – $120.00

Just like any other purchase, there are a lot of variables to consider when selecting stair nosings. To get a more accurate estimate, you must also think about the following:

The Step Shape

For stair nosing, you must first consider your step’s shape. Is it straight, slanted backwards or rounded? It is also important to think about the thickness of the nosing needed. Having this information on hand will help you narrow down your list of available options.

The Finish

After choosing your desired profile, it’s the time to decide on your preferred finish. This is the point where price varies significantly. If you have a limited budget, it is better to avoid bronze stair nosing and go for more economical choices like PVC or aluminium. There are cheaper alternatives available but keep in mind that these will usually only last for 2-3 years before needing replacement, whereas high-quality PVC nosings can survive upwards of 10 years.

Specialty Inserts

You can further modify stair nosings by adding colour inserts. Most contractors don’t charge an additional cost this feature. However, speciality inserts like Xtra-Grip Plus and photoluminescent strips may come with upcharges.


To give your residential or commercial staircase an affordable and high-quality finish, Click here to have a look at the full range of the stair nosings that Total Tactilez have