Watch your steps

LED lights for stairs

There’s no question that lighting up your stairs beats falling down them in the dark. By fitting LED strips as step lighting, you can have more than just safety: with a bit of imagination, they can be a very striking design feature as well.

LED strip lights are a great solution for step lighting. They’re flexible, can be cut to any length you need, and even coated in waterproof plastic, so you can install them quickly and easily almost anywhere. They’re available in a wide selection of colours, so you can choose from a range of white light shades, single colours (red, green, blue or amber), or even colour-changing tapes that let you mix exactly the light colour you want. LED strips last for years – and they’re energy efficient too.

Choose your colour

The first decision to make is the colour you want. If you’re simply lighting the way up and down your stairs at home, then you’ll probably want white light (a warm white shade will likely match your main light fittings better than a pure/cool white).

In workplaces, retail stores and other commercial or public buildings, single-colour LED strips can be a great-looking alternative. Blue LEDs are a popular choice for these locations.

For maximum impact – ideal for clubs and bars, or brilliant feature lighting at home – why not consider installing colour-changing LED strips? These strip lights mix red, green and blue light to create any colour, so you can select exactly the shade you want by using a controller (wall-mounted or remote), or even with a phone app.


How bright is bright enough?

Next, it’s time to think about how brightly your stairs should be lit.

The brightness of light output is measured in lumens. But when buying LEDs, you’ll find that they’re actually sold by wattage level.

At InStyle, we supply powerful white LED lights that draw up to 25 watts per metre, but those top-end LEDs are more than you’ll need for your staircase. White 5W LED strips are a much better choice for this kind of installation. (The same goes for other single-colour light strips.) For wider stairs, or for locations where you’d prefer a little more lighting, you may prefer going up to 10W strips instead.

For more details, see our video on the features of 5-watt white LED tape.

Comparing LED tape quality

If you’re installing colour-changing LED lights on your stairs, then we recommend you choose our 7.5W light strips.

Preparation is everything

Now to start preparing your LED strip light installation. Begin by deciding if you prefer your LED tape to run down the length of the staircase (lighting up the wall and/or bannister), or if you want horizontal strips on the step risers.

If you’re going to light the steps, then consider whether you want an LED strip on every one, or on every second or third step – so you can add up how many lengths of LED tape you will need. Measure the width of the steps where your LED strips will be fitted. That’s the length of LED tape you’ll need for each one.

LED strips light bannister-rail and stair-tread edge

You’re now ready to order your LED lights. We can supply the full length you need and you can cut it to the right length(s) yourself (cut-points are at 25mm, 50mm, 100mm or 166mm intervals, depending on the type of LED tape) – or give us the measurements you need when you place your order, and we’ll do the cutting for you.

When it comes to fitting your LED strips, you’ll find they come with their own adhesive backing so you can simply press them into position. But if you prefer, we can send you plastic support clips that you can screw into your steps to hold your LED strips in place.

Power and control

How are you going to power and control your LEDs? This is the next thing to consider.

Your LED strips will need a power supply. For your staircase, you’ll most likely be using LED strips that draw a 12-volt input (some brighter tapes draw 24V instead), so you’ll need a 12V transformer to step down your mains supply.

LED transformers are described by the number of watts they can output. You’ll want a transformer (or transformers) that outputs enough wattage to power all your LED strips. To work out how powerful your power supply needs to be, multiply the watts per metre of the LED strip by the strip’s total length. See our power supply support page for more info.

Where will you fit your power supply? One option is to install it out of sight, behind your steps. You may want to discuss the best, most unobtrusive place to fit your transformer with your electrician.

To control your LED lights, you’ll need either a dimmer (for white / single-colour LEDs) or a controller (for colour-changing LEDs). These units come in a variety of types:

  • they can be wall-mounted or hand-held remotes,
  • they can be wired to your lights,
  • they can connect via radio frequency…
  • …or even through your wifi router. (There’s an app for that!)

Fit to go

Decisions made. You’re ready to fit your LED strips into position.

Peel off the backing and you're ready to go!

Lay out the tape lengths then fix them into place, along the stair risers or walls / bannisters. For stairs, we often find that indirect light from hidden LEDs creates the best effect, so if there’s a convenient ridge or lip that you can use to conceal your LED strips that’s so much the better.

To install, simply peel off the adhesive backing on your LED strips and press them into place. The adhesive backing should be enough to hold your LED strips securely. But if you want extra strength, you can always use our plastic screw-in clips or add a dab of glue.

We’ve talked about lighting up your stairs using LED strip lights. But the same approach works for all sorts of other LED projects: under-cabinet lights, plinth lights, decking, porches, coving lights.

Private Garden at Sunset, Autumn