Contrasting Color on Stair Treads Prevents Falls

Contrasting steps

We all know that signs are easier to read when the letters are depicted in stark contrast to the background. In fact, the black letters on this screen in contrast to the white page are so easy on the eyes that you probably aren’t even aware of how well that combination works. It’s the contrast between the black and white that makes it easy on our eyes. Contrasting colors, textures and materials are design features that also make it easier to see tripping hazards in and around our homes. Many people have single stair entryways that blend into the walkway and present a significant tripping hazard. Sets of two or three stairs can be just as troublesome when unmarked as a full flight of stairs. In commercial structures, it’s common to see stair tread edges marked with contrasting paint to make them easier to see. While a bright yellow or white paint can be an effective strategy, there are other ways to accomplish the same effect and still maintain a design aesthetic. For example, consider adding a different brick or tile to your hard surface stair nosing or entryway. Wooden stairs can be stained to contrast their edges. Carpeted stairs can be inlaid with contrasting colors to signal the edge of the stair tread.


Depending on your stairs; concrete paint for striping runs $30 a gallon; stain for wooden stairs runs $15. Tile or brick edging costs $2 to $5 a piece plus installation. Replacing stair nosing with a lighter or darker strip of wood runs $30 for a 94-inch length that will need to be cut to fit and installed by a professional.


  • Defines the edges of stair treads and entry steps visually to help prevent tripping.
  • Adds style and aesthetic appeal to the design.
  • May add value to the home.


  • Hire a licensed designer to help select the best edging for your stairs.
  • If you are thinking of eliminating carpeting on your stairs, now is the time to consider the design of the painted or stained wood tread.
  • Different wood on the nosing of the stair can achieve a contrast and make an attractive design statement.
  • Painting your risers white or another contrasting color can also help those climbing the stairs see each stair tread.
  • Hire a handyman to install brick or tile stair tread edging.


Friedman, Daniel. (2010). Stair Tread Specifications & Defects. Retrieved April 1, 2010, from HGTV website:

Hardwood Installer, (2002-2010). Installing Hardwood on Stairs. Retrieved April 1, 2010:


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