The Rose Bowl Ceiling Mounted Light Fixture in Green by Steel Lighting Co.

Ups and Downs: A Staircase Lighting Guide

Staircases are pretty crucial in most homes. Sure, they don’t have the glamor and fondness of the primary rooms of the house, but they’re needed if you like being able to access the other half of your two-story home. 

Still,  it always feels like the humble staircase is left on the wayside when many homeowners decide to renovate or build their new house. Even worse, that design echoes in other areas as well, the worst of which is the actual lighting design being associated with the staircase!

It feels kind of strange to be sitting here telling people how important good lighting is for being able to get up and down a staircase safely – but here we are. Staircases provide a central function to any two-story home and can often be a centerpiece for many homes that have been designed well. 

Generally speaking, staircases are so crucial that it’s usually worth it to treat your staircase as one of the most integral features to your home, should you be designing a new one. To that end, organizing the lighting for your staircase should be a priority as well. 

In this guide, we’re going to go through some essential tips and info for lighting your staircase and how you can avoid the worst pitfalls. 

The First Steps

The Topanga Wall Mounted Gooseneck Light Fixture in White by Steel Lighting Co.

Before we start getting into the nitty-gritty of lighting design for your staircase, it’s vital to go over some of the critical principles of lighting.  To start, let’s get brushed up again on the three layers of lighting that are critical to every room in your home: 

Ambient Lighting – The most basic form of lighting. Ambient lighting is used to provide a general light throughout the room.

Task Lighting – This style provides more focused and intense forms of lighting for completing specific tasks that need clear visibility; they are often used in offices or other workplaces where there needs to be enough clarity on what you’re doing.

Accent Lighting – Sometimes called mood lights, this type offers an artistic twist by being designed with personality as well as atmosphere in mind.

Every room can be improved by the three layers working together. These are often seen in stunning displays that make mundane spaces more exceptional than they were before. In the case of staircases, this can be especially important if you’re looking to make it the centerpiece of your home.

Key Questions

It’s hugely important to make sure you’re asking yourself two key questions when it comes to how you design the lighting for your staircase:

  • Where should I be lighting my staircase?
  • What is the best type of lighting for my staircase? 

The answer to these questions will, of course, be dependent on the type of staircase you choose to design, so let’s look at an example of what we’re talking about: 

Let’s say you’re planning to build a staircase, but also want to take advantage of some ceiling lights to light it. Ceiling lights are a great option, and you’ve chosen to go for the Manhattan steel barn light from Steel Lighting Co. as your light of choice. 

There’s a catch, though, while the Manhattan has a fantastic amount of light that it can generate, it’s also recommended to be used for a height clearance of around 15ft. The height clearance of your staircase from the highest point of the stairs to the ceiling is about 10ft, meaning the Manhattan might not be the best option. 

This leaves a few options: you can either choose to make the best of the ceiling lights and choose the Steel Lighting Co. Carson light instead. Or, you can forgo the ceiling lights entirely and instead choose to use the Topanga wall-mounted fixture as an alternative. 

As you can see, it’s a lot to think about, and having your lighting design as well thought out as early as possible, is crucial to getting the best results. 

Wall to Wall

This brings up a valuable point. Just what are the pros and cons of wall lights compared to ceiling lights? In the case of your staircase, the difference can be substantial. 

The simple logic of wall-mounted lights for staircases is that the vast majority of stars are adjacent to at least one wall. Walls provide an easy way for wiring and create a simple look quickly that it’s subject to other variables. 

In most cases, the most popular form of staircase lighting is recessed styles that shine a light squarely on the steps, making it easier to see them in low light conditions while not being too invasive at the same time. 

Ideally, smaller lighting fixtures, such as our Venice lights, are perfect additions for many staircases and can provide a sufficiently good light while also keeping in the home’s style. 

The apparent downside of wall lighting is that care must often be taken not to have lights that make the space uncomfortable. In the case of a staircase flanked by a wall on each side, a wall-mounted light may make the area feel even smaller than usual and impede on valuable room to move freely up and down the steps. 

Looking Up

The Carson Ceiling Mounted Light Fixture in Black by Steel Lighting Co.

When it comes to ceiling lights, staircases can often thrive as well, though the design of the broader space has to be managed well to work. 

Ceiling lights are perfect for homes that have staircases built in tight spaces without an abundance of room. Often, this comes down to the ability of a ceiling light being able to be safely out of the way above the heads of the user. 

Of course, this can raise questions of its own. Ceiling lights can be encumbrance themselves, especially pendant lights or lights that require space to hang from the ceiling. As a result, downlights are enduringly popular as solutions for smaller homes. 

That’s it for our brief foray into the wonderful world of staircase lighting! Hopefully, with some of these tips and info, you’ll be able to make the best decision for your staircase going forward!

If you need help making the right choice of lighting for your home or business, then contact our friendly team at Steel Lighting Co.,  our friendly team of experts would be more than happy to give some advice and recommendations on what kind of steel barn light can best suit your home or business needs.


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