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Oak Staircase vs. Maple Staircase For Fairfax, Virginia, Homes

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Step Up Your Staircase Game: Oak vs. Maple Showdown

Beautiful white oak staircase in a home foyer

Are you in the process of revamping your home, finding yourself at a crossroads in choosing the right wood for your staircase? Wondering which material strikes the perfect balance between enduring strength and aesthetic appeal?

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of choosing between an oak staircase and a maple staircase, laying out all the facts you need to make an informed decision.

By the end of this read, you’ll be closer to making the right choice for your staircase install or remodel in Fairfax, VA.

Oak Staircase vs. Maple Staircases For Homes In Fairfax, VA

White oak staircase with white risers and cable balusters


Winner: Depends on Preference

When it comes to the visual appeal of your staircase, the choice between an oak staircase and a maple staircase is a matter of personal preference.

Oak stairs boast a traditional charm; with their pronounced grain patterns and warm, reddish hues, they bring a sense of coziness and timelessness to your space.

On the other hand, maple staircases offer a lighter, more understated elegance. With their fine grain and smooth texture, they can brighten up a room and give it a contemporary feel.


Winner: Oak

In terms of durability, oak staircases take the lead, especially in bustling Fairfax homes. Known for its robustness, oak stands up well to the daily wear and tear of family life, maintaining its integrity even in high-traffic areas.

Maple, while also a durable option, is a bit softer than oak, which might lead to signs of wear over time, particularly in spaces with constant foot traffic.


Winner: Tie

Both an oak staircase and a maple staircase require attention to keep them looking their best.

Regular cleaning of wood stairs and the occasional refinish will go a long way in preserving their beauty and functionality. Oak’s harder surface may offer better resistance to scratches and dents, but maple’s smoother finish makes it easier to clean and maintain.


Winner: Maple

When it comes to cost, maple staircases generally present a more budget-friendly option, making them an attractive choice for many Fairfax homeowners.

Oak staircase costs, while higher, offer a solid investment due to their durability and timeless appeal.

Resale Value

Winner: Oak

Homes featuring oak staircases tend to command a higher resale value, thanks to oak’s widespread popularity and perceived luxury.

Maple staircases also add significant value to a property, but they might not carry the same universal appeal as their oak counterparts.

Environmental Impact

Winner: Depends on Sourcing

Both oak and maple are hardwood species, and their environmental impact largely depends on how they are sourced and manufactured.

Whether you choose an oak staircase or a maple staircase, ensuring responsible sourcing is key to making an environmentally friendly decision.


Winner: Tie

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or prefer to leave it to the stair professionals in the DC area, installing a maple or oak staircase in your Fairfax home is a feasible project.

The installation processes for both types of wood are quite similar, and the choice of wood doesn’t significantly impact the ease or difficulty of the task.


Winner: Oak

When it comes to longevity, oak stairs have the edge. With proper care, an oak staircase can grace your Fairfax home for decades, standing up to daily use with resilience and stability.

Maple staircases also boast a long lifespan, but they may require more frequent maintenance to keep them looking and functioning at their best.

More Information On Staircases

Understanding Stair Components

Wood staircase and railing with black metal railings

Stair Treads

Stair treads are the horizontal components that provide a surface for stepping. They bear the brunt of foot traffic, making their durability and stability paramount.

Oak stair treads are a popular choice due to their strength, while maple stair treads offer a smoother finish.

Hickory stair treads tend to have the longest lifespan.

Walnut stair treads, while pricier, need more maintenance and attention if you want them to last.


Risers are the vertical components that sit between each tread. They contribute to your staircase’s stability and can also be a significant design element.

Oak and maple both provide sturdy options for risers, ensuring a secure and stylish staircase.


Stringers are the structural elements that support the treads and risers, running along either side or in the middle of the staircase. They need to be strong and durable, with oak being a preferred material for its longevity and strength.


Handrails offer support and safety as people ascend and descend the staircase. They can be crafted from various materials, including oak and maple, to provide a secure grip and add an aesthetic touch to the staircase.


Balusters are the vertical posts that support the handrail. They play a crucial role in the safety of the staircase, preventing falls and accidents. Oak and maple both offer sturdy and stylish options for balusters.

Newel Posts

Newel posts are the larger vertical posts that anchor the handrail at the bottom, top, or turns of the staircase. They provide additional support and stability, with oak being a durable option and maple offering a smoother finish.

Benefits Of Stair Tread Remodeling

Stone picket pattern risers on stairs

  • Enhanced Safety: New stair treads ensure a stable and secure surface, reducing the risk of slips and falls.

  • Aesthetic Improvement: Upgrading your stair treads can transform the look of your staircase, adding value and appeal to your home.

  • Increased Longevity: High-quality materials like oak and maple can extend the lifespan of your staircase, ensuring it remains in top condition for years to come.

  • Easy Maintenance: New stair treads are easier to clean and maintain, keeping your staircase looking new and fresh.

  • Customization Options: With a variety of wood options available, you can customize your staircase to suit your style and preferences.

Wood Options For Stair Treads

Economic Wood Options

Poplar, beech, ash, red oak, and hickory are economical choices that don’t compromise on quality. Each wood species has unique characteristics, offering a range of options for homeowners on a budget.

Mid-Priced Hardwood Options

White oak, hard maple, cherry, and walnut strike a balance between quality and affordability. These hardwoods provide durability and a rich aesthetic, making them a popular choice for stair treads.

Luxury Wood Options

For those seeking premium options, mahogany and birch offer unparalleled durability and a fine-grain finish. These luxury woods ensure a stunning staircase that stands the test of time.

Other Considerations When Choosing Hardwood For Stairs

Narrow wooden staircase next to a blue wall

Diversity In Wood Species

A diverse range of wood species is available for staircases, each offering unique characteristics and benefits.

Oak staircases, for instance, are known for their durability and traditional appeal, making them a popular choice among homeowners.

Maple staircases, on the other hand, provide a lighter aesthetic and are moderately hard, ensuring durability while offering a subtler appearance.

When choosing the best wood for your staircase, consider how it will complement the other wooden elements in your home, such as flooring, doors, and furniture.

Prefinished vs. Unfinished Treads

Prefinished stair treads are a convenient option as they come sanded, stained, and sealed, ready for installation. This can save time and ensure a consistent finish across all treads.

Unfinished treads, while requiring more work post-installation, offer the flexibility to customize the stain and varnish to match your existing woodwork and floors.

Color And Texture Considerations

The natural color and texture of the wood are significant factors in the overall aesthetic of your staircase.

Oak, with its wide range of shades from light brown to dark and its prominent grain pattern, offers versatility in design.

Maple, being one of the lighter woods, provides a smooth texture and a straight grain, contributing to a modern and sleek look.

Durability And Hardness

The durability and hardness of the wood are paramount, especially in high-traffic areas like stairs.

Oak is renowned for its strength and ability to withstand wear and tear, making it a durable choice for staircases.

Maple, while slightly softer than oak, still offers sufficient durability for most homes.

Consider the level of foot traffic in your home and choose a wood that can withstand the demands of daily use.

Stain And Finish Options

The final appearance of your staircase will significantly depend on the staircase stain and finish you choose.

Oak takes stain well, allowing for a range of color options from light to dark.

Maple, with its naturally light color, can be stained to achieve a desired shade, though it is known for its beautiful natural finish.

Ensure you choose a high-quality stain and varnish to protect your staircase and enhance its appearance.

Budget Considerations

Oak staircases, while offering longevity and a timeless appeal, tend to come with a higher price tag.

Maple staircases provide a cost-effective alternative without compromising on style and durability.

Consider the long-term value of your investment and choose a wood that offers the best balance between interior wood staircase costs and benefits.

Other Wood Species For Staircases

Walnut Stair Treads

Walnut is known for its rich, dark color and luxurious appeal. It is a popular choice for those looking to make a statement with their staircase. Walnut tends to be on the pricier side as it is a more premium option.

Hickory Stair Treads

Hickory stands out with its unique grain pattern and bright, natural color. It is one of the hardest domestic hardwoods available, ensuring a resilient and long-lasting staircase.

Additional Tips And Advice

Small wood staircase with white risers leading to a den

Choosing The Right Finish

A high-quality varnish will protect the wood from wear and tear, ensuring longevity. Consider the level of gloss you prefer, as this can affect the overall look of the staircase.

DIY vs. Professional Installation

While some homeowners may opt for a DIY approach to installing their staircase, it is often recommended to hire a professional. A professional installer will ensure that all components are correctly fitted, providing a safe and secure staircase.

Seasonal Considerations

Wood is a natural material that can expand and contract with changes in humidity and temperature. This is an important consideration in areas like Fairfax, Virginia, where there are distinct seasons. Ensure that your staircase is properly acclimated before installation to prevent future issues.

Safety Considerations

Ensure that your staircase meets all stair safety standards and regulations, including proper tread depth, riser height, and handrail height. A safe staircase is a crucial component of a safe home.

Future-Proofing Your Staircase

When investing in a new staircase, consider materials and designs that will remain stylish and functional for years to come. Choose a timeless wood species like oak or maple, and opt for a classic design that will stand the test of time. This ensures that your investment adds lasting value to your home.

Stair Creations: Crafting Elegance, Step By Step

This guide has illuminated the path, providing you with invaluable insights into the world of oak staircases vs. maple staircases. Each wood type has its unique advantages, ready to cater to your specific needs and preferences.

Stair Creations stands as your trusted partner in this transformative journey. Whether it’s a robust oak staircase or a refined maple staircase, we are here to ensure your staircase installation or remodeling project in Fairfax, VA, is nothing short of perfection.

Don’t hesitate to reach out—fill out our contact form today or give us a call. Let’s take this step together and bring your staircase vision to life!


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