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Shopping around for the best stair treads is more than a simple matter of finding a step with the right dimensions for your space (though that is a vital component to the decision making process). It is of great benefit to you and anyone sharing your space to take the time to really understand the various materials, styles, and other features available for your tread needs.

Once you know what the options are, you then have a better understanding of what you need to do for either indoor or outdoor spaces, what safety features are necessary for your treads, what maintenance you’re likely looking at for down the road, and what the overall cost is likely going to be to you. This simple knowledge base allows you a much better overall shopping experience.

Measurement Requirements
Getting down to brass tacks, the first step you’ll want to take is to measure out the space you’ve set aside so you know what size you’re looking at for you stair. Is this a wide open space with plenty of room for something on a grander scale? Or is your space a little more limiting?

How wide is your space? And what is your finished floor-to-floor height? This second measurement will help you determine your rise and run for each step, and how it will calculate for spiral stairs vs. straight stairs will be different. So knowing how your space affects the calculation for each is important. Spiral stairs generally have a 30 degree rotation for each tread. So knowing your height and overall rotation will tell you how many treads you’ll need.

Materials Selection
Knowing the theme of your interior, or exterior, décor is another important step before jumping on this decision. Salter helps make it easier to match your décor and theme by offering a wide range of quality materials. We offer several different wood species for indoor and outdoor purposes ranging from brightly toned grains to deep, richly colored grains. Among our species selection is included:

* Red Oak
* White Oak
* American Cherry
* Brazilian Cherry
* Maple
* Walnut
* Hickory
* Douglas Fir
* Pine
* Alder

for indoor, and:

* Teak
* Mahogany
* Cedar

for outdoor.

So your options for selecting the right wood accent for your home, from rugged log cabin with hickory to Victorian study with mahogany, are highly varied. These wood accents provide a great accompaniment as tread covers to their metal tread partners.

Beside wood tones, there are modern industrial or urban looks you can create through the selection of steel, aluminum, or galvanized steel. Steel and aluminum can be custom finished to any color you desire. Or you can choose to order them unfinished and apply your own custom paint job. These custom finished or painted metal elements are the perfect pairings for urban chic apartments with unique personality.

Galvanized steel has a great rugged, aged look once the galvanization has weathered into a battleship gray. Making it great for seaside settings. However, galvanized treads can be painted too, after the weathering process.

Indoor and Outdoor Needs
It’s important to realize that some materials are not as suitable for outdoor applications due to their decreased ability to resist corrosion and rot. Those woods above listed as outdoor wood options are categorized that way because they resist moisture and warping when exposed to the elements. That’s why woods like cedar are frequently used for decking. So if you want an outdoor wood accent for tread covers, stick to those above three options.

Your metal options are really within the realms of aluminum and galvanized steel for your treads when it comes to outdoor needs. Aluminum is naturally corrosion resistant and the galvanizing process armors the raw steel to be corrosion resistant as well.

You can use standard steel treads for your outdoor applications, but you will have to prime, paint, and seal them properly. Additional coats and touchups will be necessary down the road to stave off corrosion.

Style Options
Beyond the material selection itself and the finish options, you can customize the look and theme created by your tread further through Salter’s plethora of style and design choices.

The lower line of your tread can be straight for a simple look or curved in various ways for a hint of elegance. That treads bottom line can also be raised (to the point of being non-existent for a very open-air feel perfect for those going with a minimalist look), or lowered for a very closed look.

Various styles and patterns of cutouts are also available, giving you several choices for an ornate feel.

Safety Features
Besides stylistic preferences and material choices, another very important factor that will affect the structure of your treads is that of safety considerations.

If these treads are going to live outside, then you’ll want to consider things like rain, snow, or other elements that will cause moisture in some form to gather atop your treads.

If you’re dealing with frequent rain, then something like a slip-resistant, diamond plate tread is a prudent choice. Or even if you live in a dry state like Arizona, but your stair is near a pool, then slip-resistance is still key for your safety needs.

If you’re looking at heavy snowfall at some point in the year, then consider a tread that’s perforated or grated to allow fall through. Climbing stairs with heavy or frozen snow piled up is hazardous and just a bad idea. Salter provides all of these options with the safety of you and your family in mind.

Maintenance Requirements
One more question you need to ask yourself about tread material selection is what sort of time and effort you’re willing to put into maintenance.

Aluminum is your best bet for a zero maintenance option, but if you like the steel outdoors, then, as stated, initial prime, paint, and seal followed by regular touchups will be necessary. Steel may even require periodic rust removal prior to re-touching.

Galvanization has low maintenance, but if you do find yourself having to remove corrosive patches or touching up scratched galvanization, there are special zinc-heavy paints you can use.

Wood will require a little polish and seal now and then. How often depends on the species of wood you select. Outdoor wood will require minimal upkeep—similar to your decking material. Indoor wood upkeep is more about maintaining the luster and color you enjoy and less about preventing moisture damage.

Cost Range
Every decision you make out of all the previous factors affects end cost for your treads up or down. A more exotic wood species will add to your price than a less expensive domestic wood. As will more ornate styles, or more expensive metal materials like aluminum. Even the overall size of the treads will affect cost. More material, more cost. So work out your budget before getting too deep into picking out your stair treads.

But once you have a firm grasp of your personal budget, know the general theme your trying to create, and understand what works best for inside vs. out, working toward your best tread options will be a much easier and more enjoyable experience.

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