LED Lighting Expert Written by Ben Teele | A Leader in LED Technology

Enhancing Safety & Style: A Guide to LED Lit Stairs

Adding LED lighting to your staircase offers numerous benefits, enhancing both aesthetics and safety. Careful consideration of factors such as the type of stairs, strip light placement, color temperature, and safety concerns is crucial. Our comprehensive guide provides valuable insights and practical tips to transform your staircase into a stunning focal point. Whether you're illuminating indoor or outdoor stairs, straight or spiral, discover recommended types of strip lights for various applications, explore the benefits of installing strip lights under the bullnose, and calculate the total amount of strip light length required for your project. From installation tips to lighting design options and safety precautions, we've got you covered every step of the way.

Type Of Stairs

  • Indoor vs. Outdoor: Consider the environment where the stairs are located.
  • Design Variations: Straight, spiral, or floating stairs each have unique installation needs.
  • Strip Light Placement: For optimal safety and aesthetics, locate strip lights in a location they won’t cause a tripping hazard or be damaged, such as under a bullnose.

Benefits of Installing Strip Lights Under the Bullnose:

  • Protection: Shields the strip light from damage.
  • Even Lighting: Provides consistent illumination of the riser.
  • Safety: Reduces tripping hazards.
  • Glare Reduction: Using a channel on a bullnose minimizes glare.

Calculating Strip Light Length

To determine the total length of strip lights needed for your project, consider the number of treads on the staircase and their width. Standard stair treads are usually 3’ or 4’ wide. For example, let’s do the math for a standard, single-story staircase with 13 stairs. If each stair has a 4’ wide tread, then to calculate the total feet of strip lights needed we will multiply 13 by 4, which equals 52’ of strip lights that will be needed for this project.

The types of strip light we would recommend, based on light color preference are:

Color Temperature: Warm, neutral, or cool white, depending on the ambiance.

To choose the perfect color temperature for your stair installation, consider these factors:

  • If your home has warm wood tones, warmer light temperatures like 2700K or 3000K would be more common for your stair installation.
  • If your home has grey tones, cooler temperatures like 4000K are more frequently used.
  • For modern homes, offices, or commercial buildings, daylight colors such as 6000K are often preferred.

Stair Lighting Installation Tips for Stairs

Once you have selected your strip lights, consider using a mounting channel for your installation. Our aluminum channel with a frosted lens is an excellent solution for stair lighting. For installation, the channel will need to be cut to the length of the stair tread. If you are installing the channel with screws, remember to install the channel on the stairs first, using countersunk screws, before affixing the strip light into the channel. If you are using mounting clips, it will be easier to cut and attach the strip lights into the channel before attaching the channel to the stairs.

Alternatively, you can use LED light bars. This option saves time and energy as they are custom-made, ready to install, and can be ordered in one inch increments up to 78 inches in length. They are made-to-order at our facility in Minnesota, and the only assembly required once you receive them is mounting them to your stairs. One important factor to keep in mind when considering light bars is that you must use mounting clips to install them; you cannot screw directly through the channel.

Types Of Stair Installations

  • Straight wood-framed stairs: These are the easiest and most common types of stairs. A bullnose is recommended for safe strip light installation, to prevent tripping over or damaging the lights. The wiring can be concealed behind the stringers on the stairs.
  • Outdoor concrete stairs: Outdoor concrete stairs usually do not have a bullnose, making installation more challenging. Waterproof LED lights are recommended. You may consider using a recessed channel to safely install the lights, removing any tripping hazards.
  • Metal spiral stairs: For metal stairs, consideration must be given to where the lights will sit as these stairs typically do not have a riser.
  • Floating stairs: Floating stairs require careful planning, as light installation needs to be considered during the initial construction of the stairs. Retrofitting lights into floating stairs is difficult.
  • Carpeted stairs: LED strip lights should not be installed on carpeted stairs due to the heat generated by the lights, the lack of a bullnose, and the material being insufficient for the strip lights to adhere to.
  • Wooden deck stairs: Wooden Deck stairs commonly have a bullnose, allowing for safe installation of the lights. Waterproof strip lights are recommended if the lights will be exposed to the elements, along with silicone adhesive and mounting straps.

Power Source

All our strip lights require a low-voltage, DC, power source to operate. This power source is typically a power supply, which should be placed where it will not be stepped on, often under the stairs for accessibility.

If you only need to turn the strip lights on and off, use a non-dimmable power supply. If you prefer to control the lights with a standard dimmer switch, you'll need a dimmable power supply. If using color-changing strip lights, or tunable white strip lights, use a non-dimmable power supply along with a controller as all the dimming will be done through the control unit. For more information, check out our article on how to choose the correct power supply.

Safety Tips

  • Installation Safety: Ensure proper electrical work to avoid short circuits or a voltage drop of more than 10%. Follow the national electrical code in your local area, and have your work checked by an electrician.
  • Durability: Use IP68 weatherproof LEDs for outdoor stairs to ensure longevity.
  • Brightness: Provide sufficient illumination to prevent accidents without causing glare.
  • Maximum Run Length: Do not daisy-chain strip lights beyond the maximum run length, which is 16.4 feet for most strip lights.

Best Types of Products

Indoor wooden stairs with LED strip lights White stairs with LED strip lights Outdoor Stairs with LED strip Lights

Incorporating LED lighting into your staircase not only enhances its aesthetic appeal but also improves safety. By carefully considering factors like the type of stairs, strip light placement, and color temperature, you can create a well-lit and visually appealing staircase that complements your home or building. Installing strip lights under the bullnose provides protection, even lighting, and reduces tripping hazards, while choosing the right strip light type provides the desired ambiance. From installation tips to lighting design options and safety precautions, aspectLED is here to support you every step of the way in achieving a safer and more beautiful staircase with LED lighting.