February 15, 2024

Home ideas

The Transformative Potential of Staircase Panel Ideas

Transform the experience of using the stairs in your home with decorative staircase panel ideas to provide a designer feature. You’ll enjoy the daily ritual of climbing and descending the stairs in an entirely different way.

The typical UK home layout includes bedrooms on the first floor and living on the ground floor, with a connecting stair just inside the front entrance. In more modern homes, sometimes the staircase is incorporated into the living area. No matter, the treatment of the staircase walls must be both decorative and practical.

Whether it’s a separate stairwell or integrated within the open-plan living area, we have put together a definitive list of material options for staircase panel ideas. From cutting-edge contemporary design to a more traditional approach, we will argue through this article for the importance of decorative staircase ideas.

Staircase wall panel with wallpaper by Porcelanosa

Wallpaper Skins Mural Bamboo Green

Staircase wall decorating ideas

Beyond simply a device for changing levels, the staircase has acquired a more decorative importance that makes a statement about us and our homes. It’s often the spot where we choose to place artwork or family photographs, along the stairs or on the landings.

Staircase panel ideas should reflect the style and décor of the home, not slavishly but in an overall manner that makes it an integral part of the whole. By simply adding an armchair or a window seat, the stairwell becomes a room. With the following options, no matter what style house you live in you’ll find some inspiration.


#01     Wooden Panels

The choice of a wooden panel for staircase walls is worthy of an entire article on its own. Wood in the home creates a warm ambience, has a tactile sensation and a timeless quality. Timber staircase panel ideas include a range of approaches both traditional and modern.

In the past wood panels helped to add scale to double-height spaces that stairwells occupy. And today is no different. Wooden panels are specifically suitable for timber staircases, one of the following timber staircase panel ideas will be suitable for your home.

@johnmcclaindesign_Staircase with wooden panels

  • Match the same choice of timber for the wall panels with the existing timber staircase. This approach helps integrate the entire space into a single room and looks elegant. Similarly, if the staircase is painted choose a similar or sympathetic colour for the timber wall panels.,
  • Go with the architecture of your home. Wood is highly versatile and can be made to feel modern or traditional. The style of panelling should reflect the overall décor of the house: in other words, for a contemporary home be playful with panelling and mouldings. In a more traditional home, keep the panels simple without too many different profiles. This adds a fresher look to traditional wooden panels.
  • Add geometry. Choose a vertical slat timber treatment to exaggerate or compensate for a lower ceiling stairwell. Alternatively, go with a shiplap horizontal treatment to recreate a country cottage look.

credits: @johnmcclaindesign

#02     Wainscoting

A variation on the timber panel is the wainscot, a half panel that covers the most vulnerable lower areas of the walls. The beauty of the wainscot is that it combines with other wall treatments to add character and visual interest to the stairwell. Paint, wallpaper, textiles and tiles combined with a timber wainscot can look very smart and add a warm decorative quality to the stairwell. Alternatively, any of these choices can become a wainscot in their own right, make sure to differentiate between the lower and upper areas of the wall.


@antonio_altarriba_staircase with glass wall panels

#03     Glass Panels

Typically, we locate the stairs in areas that have natural light, for health and safety reasons, as well as to draw attention to the beauty of the stairs. Glass staircase panel ideas take this idea to the limit.

As a result, the staircase becomes a lightwell within the home and the glass panels enclosing the stairs allow light to flow from the roof (or adjacent windows) through the interior. The effect is visually impacting. However, the glass must be structural grade and laminated to satisfy building regulations. Combine glass staircase panels with a glass balustrade to underline the overall aesthetic effect.

credits: @antonio_altarriba


#04     Mosaic panels

To take advantage of the potential of your staircase as an artistic installation, use mosaic panels to make a statement. Mosaics are tactile, they add warmth and personality in a way that other panels cannot match. Less is more with mosaic panels and for the typical staircase configuration we recommend using mosaic panels on one side only, the supporting wall. Choose a reflective finish to add a luminous sparkle that can augment any available light in the stairwell (natural or artificial).


#05     Tile Panels

With the floating staircase, nothing compares to tile panels lining the supporting wall for visual impact. The ‘look no hands’ minimalism of cantilevered treads places attention on the structural (or background) wall. The look is unequivocally contemporary and daring.

Tiled staircase panel by Porcelanosa

The non-traditional approach puts more emphasis on the staircase as a sculptural feature in the space it occupies. Nevertheless, tile panels can also be made to work for a more traditional staircase, especially metal stairs. Staircase panel ideas featuring tiles include the following radically different design expressions:

  • Open plan living rooms with a sculptural staircase benefit from the clean lines and reflective qualities of marble tiles. Match the colour of the treads with the marble for a more integrated effect.
  • Choose a glass balustrade for a floating staircase to highlight the beauty of the tiled wall. In a modern home, the staircase and tiled panels become the focal point of the space and add character.
  • Use tiles to add something extra to a conventional staircase supported between load-bearing walls. Either vertical or horizontal tiled panels in neutral colours add a designer flourish.

Bottega Caliza


#06     Stone Tiled Walls

Stone panels add gravitas to the staircase. Either textured or smooth, the stone is as versatile as timber in the way it can transform a staircase. From rustic rubble walling to a more sophisticated cut-stone panel, there’s no mistaking the organic qualities of stone.

The grand historical houses of the past would paint the plastered walls surrounding the stairwells to mimic stone. Today we can add sandstone, travertine or slate effect wall panels to our stairwells to create the décor that best reflects our homes. Smooth stone panels in combination with metal or stone staircases work particularly well. While more textured or rubble stone helps highlight traditional timber staircases.


Natural slate stone staircase wall panel by Porcelanosa

Airslate Graphite 

#07     Split face tiles

For a more rustic and organic quality split face tiles combined with the staircase add a highly tactile and solid backdrop. The rough texture combines well with all manner of stairs, timber, metal or stone. Typically, the split face tiles are laid in horizontal bands which provides contrast to the vertical staircase arrangement. The look works best when combined with stone flooring on landings and entrance halls.


#08     Painted walls

Because we don’t inhabit or spend long periods in the stairwell designers often experiment with its wall treatments. You can afford to be more playful and expressive around painted staircase panel ideas.

Colour can transmit a sombre or decadent mood. In fact, more daring shades that make us sit up and pay attention are to be welcomed in the stairwell. But pattern and paint textures also provide scope for transforming the staircase.

Staircase wall covered with Krion solid surface by Porcelanosa

#09     Solid surface walls

New manufacturing techniques mean that composite materials like Krion® are now being increasingly featured in staircase design. The sky is the limit in terms of architectural expression with Krion®. Its potential is unmatched and can provide effects hitherto impossible to create, including textures and sculptural surfaces. Three-dimensional surfaces that are fluted, textured, carved and honed allow staircase design to enter the realm of luxurious fantasy.

Panel FW Willow Velvet Blue

#10     Wallpaper

On its own or combined with wainscotting, wallpaper is a wonderful option for staircase walls. Figurative murals, abstract patterns, and textured and organic wall coverings are just some of the options to choose from. And wallpaper is tougher today than it has ever been before, with the right finish it can be as hardwearing and resistant to scuffs as timber panels. The staircase with wallpaper is characterful and helps convert the area into a room rather than just vertical circulation.

@vila_catalunya_exposed cement staircase wall

#11     Exposed cement panels

For the industrial aesthetic, exposed cement panels contrasted with metal stairs work best. The raw finish of both materials together look like they belong, one compliments the other. Fine aggregate creates a smooth concrete finish which doesn’t require any additional embellishment. Alternatively, concrete effect tiles recreate the very same look but in a more practical way.

credits: @vila_catalunya

Explore further staircase panel ideas

Anyone lucky enough to have a two-storey house (or duplex) understands the pleasure and romance of the staircase. With the right treatment, it can become another space in the home to enjoy. Visit your nearest Porcelanosa showroom to find out more about the ideas we have explored here, and more. And if you have any queries regarding staircase panel ideas, drop us an email.


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