Custom Look with Lighting | Tips on Lighting a Staircase

Lighting in a staircase might often times be overlooked but can actually be beneficial in terms of aesthetic and safety. A well lit staircase can prevent potential accidents, and injuries from occurring and it can also make the space more visually appealing.

Depending on what you want to achieve, lighting a staircase does require some preliminary planning:

1) Planning

Think about features of the surrounding staircase such as the staircase material (is it made out of stone, wood, glass, or is it carpeted?), the paint (is the paint dark,light, or do you have patterned wallpaper?) and consider the texture of the wall (is the wall made of stone or brick?). Also consider the general mood you want to achieve in the space. This will help determine what colour temperature will work best with the materials in the space, but will also allow you to identify the appropriate size of the fixture and where the fixtures should be placed.  

2) Styling

There are a number of creative ways you can enhance a staircase area, here are a few examples:

a) Wall Lighting

Wall lighting is a great option for providing a general distribution of light to a staircase area. Often times, wall lighting is used to highlight a unique wall feature, such as stone or brick. In cases where there is a large amount of negative space, wall lighting can help create visual interest, evenly distributing light and creating shadows for a unique pattern on the wall.



Staircase Lighting Using Wall Sconces


In this particular project, the staircase is the first to be seen when entering the home so wall lighting was used for a grazing effect, highlight the beautiful stone wall to create a visual impact.


Niche Lighting at Staircase


In this project each floating niche is highlighted with accent lighting to showcase miniature artwork, while creating a contrast to the floating vertical wood shelving units. This creates visual interest on an otherwise bare wall.

b) Step Lighting

Step Lighting can be installed adjacent to the thread (step) or mounted directly on the rise of a staircase. This particular option is suitable if the feature point is the staircase itself, rather than the walls, and also provides more direct lighting on the steps for better visibility.


LEDme Modern Staircase

In this project the LEDme fixtures by WAC were used to illuminate steps, and also aesthetically compliments the sleek design of the staircase.

Recreational Room Staircase

Here the LEDme fixtures by WAC were used to illuminate the staircase to the recreational room in the basement. In this particular application, the stairs are covered in carpet.

CSL Step Lighting

In this project CSL step lights were used to help illuminate the steps and also helps distinguish the change in direction of the steps on the way to the second level. Their simplistic design compliments the finish of the walls creating a seamless look.

c) Strip Lighting

Another popular option is adding strip lighting to the edge or “lip” of the thread which will help illuminate the step below. On a floating staircase, strip lighting placed underneath the thread enhances the floating illusion. Other options include using strip lighting under the railing or using strip lighting to light the side edges of the staircase for a modern look. These particular designs, however, do require advance planning. Some strip lighting change colour which instantly changes the ambiance and mood in the space. 

3) Installing/Spacing

The general rule of thumb is to be able to illuminate the surface and avoid creating dark spots. The number of fixtures and the spacing will be unique to each home because it will depend on each client’s preference and intended purpose for staircase lighting. It is also important to keep in mind the possibility of glare depending on the type of fixture and where it is placed.

Some vendors do provide suggestions on how to optimize lighting when installing their product.

For instance, WAC offers great suggestions on how to install their LEDme Step lighting for the best results:
When mounting the LEDme Step Lighting on the walls, they recommend placing the fixture at least 12” above a thread to help spread illuminate to more than one step.

staircase diagram

Often times, fixtures are installed on every alternating step to ensure there are no dark spots and to avoid excessive lighting.

When mounting the LEDme Step Lighting directly on the rise of the staircase, it is recommended to mount the fixture at the center and closer to the upper thread. They also recommend to have one installed on every rise if the steps are narrower than 5’.

staircase diagram front view


Other Frequently Asked Questions About Step Lighting

1) Do I need a driver?

With LED products people will often ask if a driver is needed to ensure that the LEDs have the appropriate power supply to function. For the LEDme Step Lighting, a driver is not needed since it already has an integrated driver within the bulb. However, for other LEDs you may need to purchase a driver to ensure the proper functioning and longevity of the LED product.

2) How many can be wired together?

This is going to be dependent on the product that is chosen. For the LEDme, up to 200 of these fixtures can be connected in parallel, making it a great choice for a large staircase or if you are planning to use it as pathway lighting around your home. The LEDme can also be used in exterior settings making it a versatile choice.

3) Can Step Lighting be dimmed?

Dimming step lighting can be an option, depending on the product. If a fixture can be dimmed, manufacturers will often list the compatible dimmers for that particular product.


For more questions on lighting a stairway, contact or visit our showroom. Our Lighting Specialist are always happy to help, and we guarantee quality products at the best price!