How to Lay Linoleum on Stairs

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Things You'll Need

  • Rags

  • Mineral spirits

  • Level

  • Filler putty

  • Linoleum tiles

  • Utility knife

  • Latex adhesive

  • Notched trowel

  • Hand roller

  • Metal stair nose

  • Construction adhesive

Linoleum flooring can only be installed on small stairwells.

Linoleum flooring is a popular choice in many homes and businesses thanks to its nearly no-maintenance lifestyle; a simple sweeping or mopping once or twice a week will keep most linoleum looking like new. No linoleum flooring is approved for installation on a full stairway; the surface of linoleum is slippery even when it is dry and creates a serious hazard for those traversing the steps. However, you can line one or two steps with the material, such as those leading from one level of your house to another. If you decide to do this, you must install nose molding over the stairs to help prevent slipping.

Step 1

Clean the stair surfaces with a rag dampened in mineral spirits to remove all surface contaminants, which will effect the way the adhesive bonds to the surface.

Step 2

Run a level across the stair tread to ensure that it is completely flat. If necessary, fill in low areas that vary more than 1/16 inch with wood filler putty. Allow all putty to dry completely before continuing.

Step 3

Line up the linoleum tiles on the stair tread, and mark the line where the linoleum extends over the tread if it is too long for the tread.

Step 4

Cut the tile along the marked line with a sharp utility knife to ensure that it will fit securely on the tread. Repeat lining up and cutting the tiles until you can cover the entire stair tread.

Step 5

Spread latex adhesive over the stair tread with a notched trowel. Spread a thin layer (¼ to ½ inch thick) and scrape the notched edge of the trowel back through the adhesive to create small ridges. Follow all adhesive instructions to determine if you have to wait for the adhesive to dry slightly before continuing.

Step 6

Firmly set the linoleum tiles into place and press down to secure them. Wipe away any excess adhesive that runs from the joints with a damp rag. Run a level to ensure that the tiles are completely flat.

Step 7

Roll the tiles within half an hour of installation with a hand roller to ensure they have bonded fully with the adhesive. Repeat installation for all treads (and risers, if you desire) and allow the adhesive to dry for 24 hours. Do not allow anyone to use the stairs during this time.

Step 8

Line up metal stair nose on the edge of each step. Trace the edge of the stair nose with a pencil to create a line on the linoleum marking where the stair nose piece ends.

Step 9

Spread construction adhesive along the entire length of the stair, from the edge to the line that marks the end of the stair nose.

Step 10

Firmly press the stair nose into place. Wipe away any excess adhesive with a damp rag. Roll the stair nose with the same roller as before to ensure that it is secure. Attach a metal nose to each stair and allow the adhesive to dry for 24 hours before letting anyone use the stairs.


Read and follow all instructions that come with your stair nose. Some products require the use of screws as well as adhesive.

Some manufacturers also offer rubber or linoleum stair nose pieces, but these must be installed by a professional. If you would rather use these than the metal applications, contact a professional installer.


Never install linoleum on a full stairwell. The slippery surface presents a serious safety hazard.


Samantha Volz

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.