Which Wood Species Works Best On Floating Stairs?

Custom Floating Stair Stringer looking down

The best wood species to use on your floating stairs is one that will hold up to daily use, is structurally sound, and is also breath-taking. The best species for you to choose will depend on your sense of style and the nature of your project.

White oak is Viewrail’s number one choice for floating stairs wood species. But remember, nature is not uniform, so your wood will not always be either. White oak contains a lot of movement in its grain pattern; there are cathedrals as well as light and dark spaces that make blending in nail marks and hiding wear easy. This level of variation makes white oak absolutely stunning on Viewrail floating staircases, and often pairs quite nicely with natural hardwood flooring and design accents. However, if you’d like to use something a bit more uniform on your FLIGHT, we recommend hard maple.

Viewrail’s Favorite Wood Species

Viewrail carries many wood species that will work well as treads on contemporary staircases. Each will give you a premium product that is as beautiful as it is strong. Below you will find a breakdown of the costs and benefits of the top wood species Viewrail offers for floating stairs, as well as a recommendation order supported by  over 15 years of working with lumber. Viewrail recommends these wood species in the following order:

  1. Quartersawn White Oak
  2. White Oak
  3. Red Oak
  4. Hard Maple
  5. Walnut
  6. American Cherry/Brazilian Cherry
  7. Hickory
  8. Ash

The following chart will give you some quick facts about each of these species, as well as their rating on the Janka scale (the Janka scale assigns each wood species a rating for its hardness out of a maximum 4000).

Wood SpeciesJANKA RatingHighlightsPictures
Quartersawn White Oak1360
  • Highly durable
  • Strong
  • Easy to stain
  • Easy to work with
  • Aesthetically pleasing
White Oak1360
  • Durable
  • Easy to work with
  • Easy to stain
Red Oak1290
  • Plentiful
  • Cost-effective
  • Durable
  • Easiest to stain
  • Middle-of-the-road
  • Safe bet
Red Oak Clear Finish
Hard Maple1450
  • Strong
  • Versatile
  • Stable
  • Consistent grain pattern
  • Susceptible to damage
Hard Maple No Finishhard Maple Clear Finish
Walnut1010
  • Rich
  • Looks amazing
  • In its natural state it requires no staining
  • Easy to fix dings, scratches, etc
Walnut No FinishWalnut Clear Finish
American Cherry995
  • Darkens with age
  • Easy to work with
  • Sands nicely
  • Three dimensional depth to its appearance
  • Easiest wood to get a high quality finish on
American Cherry No FinishAmerican Cherry Clear Finish
Brazilian Cherry2350
  • Very hard
  • Very strong
  • Darker than American Cherry
  • Will darken over time as it’s exposed to light
  • Less stable
  • Glue joints will likely show up over time
Brazilian Cherry No FinishBrazilian Cherry Clear Finish
Hickory1820
  • Lots of color divergence
  • Varied appearances
  • Extremely hard
  • Wears well
  • Takes lots of stain colors
Hickory No FinishHickory Cl;ear Finish
Ash1320
  • Cost-effective
  • Very durable
  • Very hard
  • Large cathedrals in the wood grain
  • Almost always stained
  • Looks like Oak, only with more grain
Ash No FinishAsh Clear Finish

Why White Oak?

Quartersawn white oak is Viewrail’s number one recommended choice for thick stair treads. Quarter-sawing produces stable wood while also creating a linear grain pattern that looks amazing on the front and back edges of your thick treads. Pairing quarter-sawing with the strong, domestic white oak produces a dimensionally stable tread that also happens to take stain extremely well.

All Viewrail wood species will add a beautiful, premium look to your FLIGHT floating stairs. There is no need to worry about making the “wrong” choice because Viewrail only offers the highest quality products.

Taking the Next Step with FLIGHT

If you’re interested in learning more about how much floating stairs cost and what FLIGHT could look like in your space, you can get a quote for floating stairs on the top menu bar. Or, if you’re feeling creative, you can use our “build your own floating stair” tool to create a virtual staircase.

Do you want to talk to an expert about customizing your project? Have any more questions about wood species or floating stairs? Give our experts a call at 1(574) 742-1030.

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