Great Advice on How to Light a Stairway

Stairways serve an important purpose wherever they may be. As such, they should be equally as well lit. Stair riser lights, low-level step lights and staircase wall lights are just a few of the ways you can light your stairs. Below, we offer some advice on lighting up your stairs for safety, aesthetics and beyond.

General Advice for Lighting A Stairway

Because of the versatility of staircases, you have many opportunities for lighting them up. There are a few general points to keep in mind as you begin to plan for your new staircase lighting:

  • If you have a modern interior, you may not want to use traditional lighting for the stairs. Though mixing old and new can be charming, you don’t want it to clash. Consider whether you have a more contemporary or traditional home and go from there.
  • It is important to have appropriate light for staircases because of the safety of it all. This means dimly lit lights might not be the best option in this case. Try to choose brighter lights but ones that will not cause glare.
  • MAKE IT A FEATURE. These lights can not only be a practical addition but a decorative one as well. Think about how you can install stair lights in such a way that they can serve both purposes.
  • USE MANY LIGHT SOURCES. Instead of only sticking to recessed mini wall lights, LED pendant lighting or stair riser lights alone, consider mixing these together. This will create a layered lighting effect, which not only makes the space better lit but gives it more visual appeal.
  • CONSIDER THE WIDTH OF YOUR STAIRS. Narrower stairs will need floor washers and downlights to help you make it up and down the stairs safely without the lights blinding you. Under-step lighting is also a good option here.
  • GUIDE THE WAY. If the staircase has a handrail, you can use mini wall lights to light up the area beneath it to make it easier to follow.


How To Use Pendant Lighting on a Stairway

Hanging pendant lights can be used both to add drama to a staircase or to keep it simple. It ultimately comes down to the kind of light you choose. To figure out the right ceiling pendant lights for your specific space, consider the following:

  • TYPE OF STAIRWAY. Do you have a standard, curved or spiral staircase? Curved or spiral stairs tend to need different kinds of light than a standard one.
  • WALL DECOR. Be sure that your LED pendant lights in the stairway go with the rest of the decor.
  • CONSIDER THE NATURAL LIGHTING. Think about the way your stairs look in the evening, afternoon and morning respectively. Add lights where they are most needed based on that fact.
  • CEILING HEIGHT. The stairway’s height should be considered when choosing the fixture, as should the height of the ceiling. The best height for a hanging pendant is typically around eight feet off the floor. If the foyer is open, you can hang the light at eye level or just a bit lower when you look at it from the second floor. Be sure to take into consideration how the light bulbs will be changed due to having to work around steps where it will be hard to place a ladder. Even though LEDs will last a long time, you never can predict the future.
  • FIXTURE SIZE. Because pendant lights come in various shapes and sizes, you’ll need to look at the overall size of the stairway and surrounding room to determine the right size. It is recommended that you measure the width and length of the room and add these figures together. The total will be the diameter size the pendant light should be in inches.

How To Use LED Wall Lights on a Stairway

LED wall lights are a great way to light up your staircase and add style to the room at the same time. Most staircases find themselves adjacent to a minimum of one wall, so it’s easy to incorporate them. Walls also provide easy access for wiring, making the process even more convenient. Recessed mini wall lights are great for lighting the angle of the stairs along the treads or for installing beneath a handrail.

You could also use up and down wall lights for staircase effect lighting by shining lights above and below the fixture, creating a warmer and more artistic feel. Wall-mounted spotlights will not just light up the treads but will wash light over the floor and create a more atmospheric appearance. For a narrow staircase, you can use flush Mini LED lights along the base or recessed wall lighting on the walls to provide illumination without making the space feel cramped.

LED stairway lighting using wall lights and step lights


How To Use Mini Recessed Lights on a Staircase

Recessed mini wall lights can be used in the wall alongside the steps to offer a pleasant, warm glow and lighting feature in the house. They can also be used in the stair risers especially if the steps are floating. This will create an under-step light that seems to glow from nowhere, giving it a one-of-a-kind appearance.

Recessed lights can also be installed on the walls every couple of stairs. This will give the area a balanced and symmetrical look without flooding the area with too much light that could be glaring. Instead, it will create a soft and warm glow. You could also mount lights on the sides of each step for a brighter look but only if the fittings are small. This can offer a bolder and more polished aesthetic when done right.

Ultimately, the spacing of the light will come down to the height of the stairs and the floor type that you are installing them around. The general rule of thumb is that all of these lights can be elevated in their appearance and usability by adding a motion sensor connected to any light circuit. This will make them turn on automatically when you go up and down the stairs, making them as energy efficient as they are safe and modern.

Stairway with mini recessed wall lights

What Are the Best Places to Put Switches for Stairway Lights?

It is a good idea to have a switch for the staircase lights both at the bottom and at the top of the stairs. This makes the illumination accessible to those at the top and bottom so there is no need to stumble up or down the stairs in the dark. When it comes to the landing, switches should be centrally placed, so they can be reached with ease from any of the rooms that lead onto it.


How Bright Should Staircase Lighting Be?

Before you start looking at the lumens of the light fixtures you’re interested in, you should first pay attention to how much natural lighting is available in the area during the day. It’s a good idea to monitor the area throughout the day to see how the light shifts as the sun moves and plan using this information.

Since the stairway lights will be used more at night and at dusk than any other time, having lights that are bright enough to see by without glaring is important. The light should be able to illuminate the stairs so that you can see where you’re going but should not be so bright that they are harsh on the eyes. One of the best ways to ensure that the lights are pleasant is to pay attention to the lighting colour. Warm white LED light with a 3000k rating or similar is generally a good choice for this; the light is warm and gentle without sacrificing the brightness needed to see.


5 Great Staircase Lighting Ideas


  1. Halo Square 1 Watt Recessed LED Wall Light

lsl003 1 watt staircase wall lighting fixtures

With a sleek square shape, the Halo Square 1 Watt Recessed LED Wall Light is perfect for modern staircases. Its crisp lines and angles and the fact that the light shines from the sides give it an instantly contemporary look. This staircase wall light washes illumination on the left and right sides of the fixture up against the wall, offering a warm, subtle glow and an artistic finishing touch. Because it is finished in a silver hue, it is neutral enough to easily be worked into any decor or colour scheme.


  1. LSL002 Round 1 Watt Recessed LED Wall Light

lsl002 1 watt round recessed interior stair lights

For a subtle way to light a staircase, try the LSL002 Round 1 Watt Recessed LED Wall Light. This light fixture is round and features an oblong opening from which the light shines. It is recessed into the wall and sits flush against it, so it is particularly well suited for narrow staircases that you don’t want to look cluttered. It outputs 70 lumens, so it is bright enough to see by without being uncomfortably so. The silver finish allows it to fit into any style of decor.


  1. Leon 12 Watt 450mm Wide Brushed Silver LED Wall Light

LWA150 12 watt interior up and down LED wall light

Make a more dramatic appearance out of your staircase with the Leon 12 Watt 450mm Wide Brushed Silver LED Wall Light. Because of its large bar shape, it is well suited for staircases that are wide and spacious; it will help to separate areas of the wall and prevent it from looking too dark and cavernous, especially as you near the landing. This modern fixture has an overall output of 1200 lumens, so you would only need a few to shed light up entire the staircase.


  1. Beam Triple 6 Watt Brushed Aluminium LED Wall Light

lwa105 6 watt brushed aluminium up and down hallway wall lights

By placing the Beam Triple 6 Watt Brushed Aluminium LED Wall Light on every few steps, you can provide ample lighting to see while breaking the monotony of the wall space. It features a short bar shape that has three bulbs shining both above and below the light, washing against the wall. The washing feature helps diffuse the illumination to cast a warm and even glow without sacrificing brightness. Due to its silver finish, you can reliably place it on walls of most colours without fear that it will clash.


  1. LPL356 5 Watt LED Hexagonal Hanging LED Pendant Lights

LPL356 5 watt GU10 hanging LED pendant light

To create staircase lighting on the landing itself, the LPL356 5 Watt LED Hexagonal Hanging LED Pendant Light is a good choice. This fixture could also be hung in the opening of a curved or spiral staircase to help take up some of that empty space. This modern pendant light has a hexagonal shape that gives it a contemporary, sleek appearance and is available in three neutral colors to match any space. The drop cord measures 2000 millimeters in length that you can adjust according to the height of the ceiling and the size of the staircase.

Final  Thoughts 

Your staircase is an important area of the home that connects the floors, and its lighting should not be overlooked. If you are stumped as to how to light your staircase, keep this article close at hand while shopping and planning. We have explored how to light the stairs with various types of lighting. We also provided a look at some specific lighting fixtures that you can consider adding to your own space to get you started.

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