31+ Best Basement Stairway Ideas and Designs

Last Updated on January 2, 2024 by Jason Nguyen

The stairs might not always be the priority when it comes to remodeling and basement improvement but when everything is said and done, it pays to have an attractive walkway to transport us into our newly modeled living spaces in the basement. 

There are various ways to upscale a basement stair and if you are looking for some inspiration on what to do with yours, here are some basement stair ideas which you can consider. 

In this article

best basement stairway ideas

Basement stair railing ideas

1. Ornate stair railing

1 basement stair railing ideas

If you want to have the dramatic feel of a luxurious looking basement stair, be creative in customizing an ornate stair railing. The handrails are still made of hardwood, but it is filled with ornate symbols in between.

They can be traditional symbols or maybe the initials of your names or your family name. This is a fine example of an ornate stair railing which you can consider. 

2. Contemporary glass railing

Contemporary glass railing

Make a standout basement stair railing with glass railings with metal handrails on one side. It gives a modern, delicate, and warm vibe all at the same time.

Complement it with pendant lights and strip lighting for each step for a more dramatic landing on a polished wood flooring like this one. 

Basement stair paint ideas

3. Stair runner color splash

Stair runner color splash

There is no limit to what you can paint your basement stair with. For instance, if you dig the polished effect of hardwood stairs but love to add some pop in it too, incorporate a painted colorful runner running through the mid-part of the stairs.

It could be abstract or symmetries, just go for the painting that attracts you the most. 

4. Mildly playful look

Mildly playful look

If you are remodeling a basement stair and you want a versatile look that matches any type of basement room (from lounging room, kids’ playroom, bathroom, kitchen, and study room), go for milder tones like light gray, beige, baby blue, sky blue, and lavender. These colors make a good contrast with a white stair frame. 

Open basement stair ideas

5. Dainty and airy look

Dainty and airy look

The spacious feel of an open basement is accentuated well by wooden balusters with thin gaps in between. The gaps and the all-white look of this basement stair make it look cool and airy. This looks very sophisticated if it descends into a corner bar or a lounge area. 

6. Grand steps

Grand steps

If you are descending into a spacious open basement, upscaling the basement stairs into a seemingly grand staircase can be considered. The stairs can be made of engineered wood with a sizable gap in between.

The railings on the other hand can be reinforced steel. Here is an example of what you can do in your open basement staircase. 

Basement stair covering ideas 

7. Carpeted staircase

Carpeted staircase

There is something about carpets that really balances and softens any type of interior arrangement.

No matter how mixed up the decorations and the wall and floor colors would be, a neutral-colored carpet like this ash gray one featured in this idea could still seamlessly match with the whole ensemble. 

Related: 19+ Different Types Of Carpets, Styles, and Pile Options (Buying Guide)

8. Covered with runners

Covered with runners

Like carpets, you have to choose the right runner style that will go well with the design and overall look of your staircase. But unlike carpets, runners for the stairs are easier to install and are more workable.

This idea features a runner clipped in using metal rods. It is enhanced by the LED lights along each step and fits with the neutral arrangement of this half-open basement. 

Outdoor basement stair covering ideas

9. Rubber treads

Rubber treads

This is one of the go-to choices for outdoor basement stair covering. They can be used as risers or for cushioned steps and at the same time, lessens slipping during the rainy or snowy season.

You can fully cover each step with rubber treads, or you can only go for half-covered ones. 

10. Resin bonded outdoor basement stair

10 outdoor basement stair covering ideas

Another effective way to cover an outdoor basement stair and making it slip-proof is through covering it with bonded resin.

This works for outdoor basement stairs that are made of natural stone slabs like this one here. 

Basement stair door ideas

11. Barn style sliding door

Barn style sliding door

Who would not love the farmhouse effect of this rustic barn style, wood sliding door? It is a unique touch to beige, brown, and white colors and leads to an open, rustic style basement.

It could be made with repurposed wood. No staining or sealing is required. Just beautifully raw as it is. 

12. French door

French door

A French door for the basement entrance is one of the most traditional choices used for basements.

In this arrangement, white trims were used for the French door to complement the polished wood railing and steps of the basement stairs.

It is also perfect for its white frame and beige walls illuminated by bright wall lamps. 

Basement stair finishing ideas

13. Tiled stairs

 Tiled stairs

A tile finish for the stairs gives off a lot of Hispanic and Moroccan feel for the basement living space. Adorn the stairs with air purifying plants for a fuller effect. Give it a vertical wood railing with peeping gaps and you are good to go. 

14. Wood finishing

Wood finishing

The timeless wood finishing is one for the books any day even for basement stair finishing. Its glossy, polished look gives it an air of sophistication, rustic coziness and reflects the warmth of home.

The stairs do not even have to be solid wood or hardwood to get the attractiveness of wood finishing. 

Basement under stairs storage ideas

15. Bookcase by the stairs

Bookcase by the stairs

This design is something that any bookworm would love. If you are setting up a basement bedroom with study room and home office, this rail-less basement stair packed with shelves beside and underneath the stairwell is one of the most perfect ideas to consider.

16. Drawers by the stairs

Drawers by the stairs

In a basement bedroom, the closet can be upscaled by incorporating additional drawers by the stairs. It can also be used to keep the items that you are most likely to forget in a pool of items when you are in the bedroom like ties, hankies, and accessories. 

Related 30+ Best Basement Storage Ideas and Designs (Finished and Unfinished)

Basement stair lighting ideas

17. Light in every step

Light in every step

Basement stairs need not be too illuminated for it to stand out. Sometimes, all you need is a bright white stair wall, a wood staircase, and LED strip lights underneath it to make the stairs appear as if they were floating.

The handrail is also immaterial for this idea as it leads to an open basement. 

18. Motion sensor stair lights

Motion sensor stair lights

If you are into energy-saving basement lighting, you can make use of motion sensors even in the basement stairs. To notch it up, you can go for motion sensor lights with ornate cases like this one.

To add more illumination, you can also use LED strip lights along the handrail or in the frame’s length. 

Related: 25+ Awesome Basement Lighting Ideas

Basement stair wall ideas

19. Prints and patterns

Prints and patterns

Painting prints and patterns across the basement stair wall is such an underrated way to spruce up the basement stair.

In this design, the continuity of the black and white combination is made more cohesive by the simple black and white prints across the wall. In-wall storage with hanging rods for hats and jackets make it more attractive. 

20. Art splash

Art splash

Another finishing touch for a basement stair is making the wall and the stairs a notch artsy. You can paint each step with pastel color. Keep the walls dark in color to enhance the effect of the bright colors.

Hang various shapes and genres of art decors as well as paintings on the wall for an art splash finish.

Basement stair tread ideas

21. Bead board reinforcement

Bead board reinforcement

This hardwood stair is not stained as it may look. Each step is layered with bead board but with a finish that looks like hardwood. The bead boards were used as risers and treads so that the wood underneath is not dented or damaged due to high foot traffic up and down the basement. 

22. Customized stenciled treads

Customized stenciled treads

At first look, these stenciled treads look like ordinary stair runners. The truth is these are hand stenciled treads made of cushioned fabric. It adds a very personal touch to basement stair treading and it perfectly fits the colors and rustic wood design of this basement stair. 

Basement stair landing ideas

23. Cushioned stair landing

Cushioned stair landing

Using cushioned carpeting along the basement stair is not a new way to cover the stairs. What is unique about this basement stair is its three-layer, cake like stair landing. Since it is fully carpeted, expect a soft feel on the feet. It is also non-slip and perfect for homes with active kids. 

24. Sleek wooden stair landing

Sleek wooden stair landing

For a contemporary, industrial design, this sleek wooden stair landing is everything but ordinary. Aside from the warm vibe of wood, glass and steel, the two-step wood landing also has an air of modern sophistication in it.

And because it is made of engineered solid wood, expect a soft feel on the feet each time you walk on it. 

Unfinished basement stair ideas

25. Old school ladder

Old school ladder

Traditional ranch style homes are loaded with an attic and a basement almost always. This unfinished, rustic basement made use of an old school style ladder.

It has thick wood frames, wide gaps in between and comes without handrails. It is everything you would want for an old school basement. 

26. Vintage basement storage

Vintage basement storage

This vintage style basement storage is located in a Louisiana home is perfect for a coastal basement vibe.

The basement stair is made of the traditional wood stair balustrade and a half-open stairwell as it approaches the stair landing. The vintage wall decors and storage also add to the vintage feel of this basement storage

Basement stair handrail ideas

27. Curved stair railing

27 basement stair handrail ideas

To veer away from the conventional straight and symmetrical stair railing, go for a slanted or curved style.

Aside from giving layer and depth to your basement, it also brings a lot of sophistication to your stairs.

Be consistent and add an oval-shaped steel balustrade to accompany the sleek, curved steel handrails. 

28. Wood balusters

28 basement stair handrail ideas

If you really prefer the classic effect of wood for your handrails, you can notch it up by adding decorative dimensions to your balustrade. This one features an oar style balustrade attached to a finished wood handrail. Going for this handrail design is the perfect fusion of classic wood and modern chic. 

Basement stair trim ideas

29. Wainscoting stair trims

29 basement stair trim ideas

This is another traditional take on basement stair trims. It is a perfect accent to wood-based basements. It seems to mirror the railing and balustrade of the basement stair and it also gives a classic finish to basement stairs. 

30. Skirted stair trims

30 basement stair trim ideas

For rail-less basement stairs, incorporating skirted stair trims can make up for their absence. This type of stair trim is good for open basements and among contemporary basement designs. The skirted trim adds layers and dynamics to the stairwell thanks to its angled, jagged shape. 

Basement stair ceiling ideas

31. Light filled ceiling

31 basement stair ceiling ideas

Stair ceilings are often underrated but this idea here features pallets of stained wood which goes well with the hard box style of this half-turn basement stair.

It is light-filled not only with this ornate chandelier, draping down as you walk down the basement but also for its glass wall window with sophisticated black wood trim. 

32. Dome ceiling

32 basement stair ceiling ideas

For a more upscale look, you can go for a dome style ceiling for the basement stairs. In this idea, the basement stair is illuminated with various sources of natural light.

For one, the apex is surrounded with skylights, a draping vintage-gothic chandelier, and small windows in between the dome’s length. The addition of vintage wall lamps also adds to the sophistication of this dome style basement stair ceiling. 

Related: These Basement Ceiling Ideas Are Perfect for Your Home


To complete your basement stair idea, there is still some important information that you should know about and we will answer these in the following FAQs about basement stairs. These answers might come in handy as you go along the construction or remodeling of your basement stairs. 

What type of railing to use for basement stairs?

There is no one railing that can be considered as the best type of railing for any stair. Basement stair or not, you can choose among the four most popular types of railing out there. 

  • Wood railing: When we are talking about wood as a railing, we are talking about either hardwood, engineered wood or polished wood. It is the most traditional type of railing and is the top choice for basement stairs in barn style, Victorian, colonial and craftsman homes. Compared to the other types of railing, wood railing still proves to be a pricey choice. 
  • Cable railing: This type of railing is a cheaper choice and is a staple among contemporary, and modern industrial basement styles. It is durable, offers symmetry and clean lines in the room and will look beautiful when combined with wood or metal posts. It is a versatile railing type and can be used even for outdoor basement stair railing. 
  • Wrought iron railing: This is another versatile and durable railing type that is becoming more popular among modern homes. It has a sophisticated effect when used in angled or curved stairs. It will look luxurious when contrasted in wood. The range of wrought iron designs are also limitless and ornate in a cheaper price compared to the other types. 
  • Stainless steel railing: This one is also a low-cost railing type for basement stairs. It is perfect for floating stair designs or if you want to incorporate glass accents to your basement stairs. This one is easily enhanced by lighting and wall and ceiling colors. 

Glass can be used as a material for basement stair enclosures but not for railing. This is the reason why it was not referenced on this list.

Related: Top 30 DIY Deck Railing Ideas

Does a basement stair need to be enclosed?

As regards formal mandates on basement stair enclosures, there are no strict rules requiring homeowners or basement remodeling projects that they should have basement stair enclosures.

The only available protocol is that any basement stair (or any stair for that matter) must have guard on both sides of the stairs, four inches gap in between the balusters, and a handrail. 

Risers, treads, and doors are complementary pieces that you can add but other than what have been mentioned, everything is optional. Nonetheless, state rules on basement remodeling and extending living spaces in the basement have differences. It might still be practical to consult with local code about the necessity of basement stair enclosures. 

What lights to use in the basement stair?

Even if we are only talking about the basement stairs, good lighting contributes to the cohesiveness of the design that we apply on our basements. Here are the four types of lighting for basement stairs. 

  • Ambient lighting: This one is achieved with the help of recessed can lights. They can be high in the ceiling, mounted on the wall or distributed downlights on each step of the stairs. 
  • Track lighting: This one is best used among finished basements. Compared to can lights or recessed lights, they are more energy efficient. Like can lights, they can be installed in-wall or beneath each step. 
  • Task lighting: For the basement stair ceiling, it is never a bad choice to put some task lighting in the form of chandeliers or pendant lights draping down as you descend from the basement stairs. 
  • Strip lighting: This is perhaps the default choice when it comes to basement stairs. They are used to illuminate each step, giving off a warm glow which elicits a floating effect for the basement stairs.

When it comes to basement stairs, you can focus on one lighting type but you are also encouraged to choose more than one to enhance the overall feel of your basement. 

What is the best flooring to put on stairs?

Again, there is no one best flooring to put on stairs. When it comes to the materials to be considered when it comes to stair floors, you can choose any of the following depending of course on the design that you are going for and the style of your home and basement: 

  • Hardwood: This includes engineered hardwood and solid hardwood. 
  • Carpet: It is helpful in avoiding slipping accidents and falling off. It also cushions the feet. 
  • Laminate wood: It is more durable than hardwood and carpet especially in the moist and dampness of the basement. 
  • Bamboo: It is one of the most durable and sustainable flooring not just for basement stairs. 
  • Cork or bead board: These two are essentially used as risers or treads for stairs. Like carpet, they ensure that slipping and falling off are lessened. 
  • Stone: This is mostly used for exterior basement stairs. 

What kind of wood should I use for basement stairs?

The best type of wood that should be used for basement stairs would be pine. Specifically, the southern yellow pine is the most commendable pine wood choice for basement stairs.

It comes in four grades depending on what you want for your basement stairs: stain grade, carpet grade, paint grade and clear pine. 

Other wood types that are good for basement stairs would be: 

How much does it cost to redo basement stairs?

The good thing about remodeling or constructing a basement stair is that it does not need more than a week to be built. At an average, the cost of redoing basement stairs ranges from $1000-2000.

This depends on the materials to be used for the remodeling as well as labor costs. Excluded in this estimate would the cost of fixtures, lighting, and other decorations.  


To conclude, while it is true that the stairs is the last thing that we consider when it comes to remodeling projects, it is still an important part of any room, especially the basement.

Being the bridge between the main house and the extended living space, the stairs need to have a cozy, warm and unique character too. 

There are different designs and ideas which you can consider if you want to set one. There are also pointers that you must be reminded of before constructing one. This includes budget, materials and local protocols in basement stairs (railing, treads and enclosure).