Skip to Content

4 Best Woods For Stair Risers That Offer Endurance

Picking the right wood for interior decorations can be quite tricky. Especially if we’re talking about stairs here. The entire durability and appearance rely on the wood types used for stair treads and risers.

Well, don’t be confused anymore because we’re here to make it easy for you.

What is the best wood for stair risers?

White oak is the best option if the finish is your priority. However, paint grade wood like poplar is also great for color. For the strength and stability of risers, hard maple is the way to go. And pinewood is the reliable choice for its low price and availability.

This was a little hint of how great these woods work for stair risers. To know in detail about it, head over to our article.

4 Best Wood For Stair Risers and Why They’re Good?

Stair risers are such a versatile part of your stairs, that you can literally put different kinds of wood to work for these. They’re the vertical element in stairs that make up the space between two stairs. So you could say, the risers are a kind of support between two steps. 

So choosing the best wood for making the risers would be a tough job. The top choices of wood for risers would be white oak, poplar. maple or pine. All of these woods have their own properties that make them suitable for making stair risers.

White Oak: The Premium Wood Option for Stair Risers

White oak is the most expensive one out of all the woods. So using this one for your risers would not only give them a beautiful finish. But it will also last for ages. White oak is one of the finest woods used for furniture and stairs. 

The best part about white oaks is that they are extremely hard and strong. So you know your stair risers will be able to take the heaviest loads. And since risers are most important for the support, it gets the job done easily. What else is there to ask for?

Oh, there’s more, white oak gives the finest finish and shine when sanding is complete. Trust me, you’ll fall in love when using white oak for furniture. It also doesn’t warp and avoids shrinking. This quality is quite a necessity for support systems like risers for the treads.

However, painting this expensive wood can be a difficult task as you’ll need to be extra careful and handle it with caution. If you can do so, your risers are going to come out perfect. 

Poplar: A Versatile and Yet Lightweight Option for Stair Risers

Poplar woods are one of the best woods for stair risers. This is because these are versatile, lightweight hardwood that can be used as great support for the stairs. Moreover, it is a  paint grade wood that can be very easy to color. 

Hence, poplar works great for making or using furniture. It is especially preferred as a support system for furniture. It may not be the best wood for basement stairs but it definitely stands out for risers.

Even though poplar is quite cheap, it can hold paint better than expensive ones. Moreover, poplar is resistant to decay and works very well with saw, lathe, or routers. You just have to make sure the cutting tools are sharp enough.

But there’s a catch – poplar needs to be cut with only sharp materials otherwise it’ll tear apart. It can also get dents if someone kicks on it but we’re assuming stair risers don’t get kicked so often. Or people don’t usually stumble because of the risers. 

Hard Maple: Offers A Handful of Color Options

Maple is another good quality wood for the stair treads and risers. Hard maple is extremely strong and resilient in terms of damage. It is probably the strongest wood between the four options. You don’t have to worry about your stairs being imbalanced. 

Furthermore, maple has a range of colors so you might not need to paint them. Even if you do, they can hold the paint and will be stained just perfectly. So you can use primers to remove smells and stains in case you’ve got something on it.

Besides, the finish after sanding is exceptionally fine and sharp. And you can rely on these for years because of their high durability. 

Now, it’s a good thing that it is durable and easy to clean because hard maple can be expensive. So if you’re ready to spend a lot, you should go for hardwood. 

Pine Wood: The Budget Choice for Your Stair Risers

Pinewood is the cheapest wood that can be used for any furniture. Now if you don’t prefer inexpensive but durable stair risers, you can always opt for this wood.

Pinewood is an extremely versatile softwood. So you can cut or paint the wood the way you like and still get a good finish. Moreover, pinewood is the most commonly available wood that you can get for the risers. 

Now a big drawback for pine wood is that it can dent or get scratched pretty easily because of being softwood. So you’ll need to be careful when using deck screws or wood screws on them. Hence, it might not be so durable in terms of appearance. But you can always fix that with regular paint sessions. 

So just think according to what quality you want your stair riser to have. Pick any one of these woods and you’re all set!


Do stair risers need angle?

Yes, stair risers need an angle. The intersection of treads and stair risers is a 90-degree angle. Other than a set of concrete or stone steps, all stair risers need that angle.

How to protect stair risers from scuff marks?

To keep the stair risers protected from scuff marks, you can coat the paint with clear polyurethane. It is more scuff resistant than any paint.

Can you install all the stair treads before installing risers?

No, you need to install at least one riser ahead before installing the treads, installing two ensures proper strength and performance.


You can use any kind of wood for stair risers because you’ll only be using these for the framework and support of the stair treads. 

But we’d say our suggestions would be the best wood for stair risers because all the properties align with the requirements of building a stair riser.

We hope our detailed discussion will clear all your doubts. Let us know if it helped.