Lighting for stairs and landings: types, ideas and installation

Stairway lighting is an often-overlooked area when redecorating the home. For style and safety purposes, you should put some thought into stair and landing lights. This guide will provide you with information about the types of lighting available, ideas and installation advice.

In this guide

What to look for in stair lighting

Stair lighting is different to standard types of lighting due to its unique location.

  • Good levels of brightness – stair lighting should be bright to ensure safe passage. Bright spotlights are an excellent way to brighten a stairway.
  • Unobtrusive – Stairs are usually narrow and small. Lighting shouldn’t reduce this space any further. Recessed lights offer illumination without taking up too much space.
  • Easy installation – stairs can pose a hazard, especially during light installation. You should ensure the installation is as easy as possible. Install lights in easy-to-reach places where you can.
  • Motion detection – while not a necessity, lights with motion detection can be useful in homes with children or the elderly.

What to look for in landing lighting

  • Brightness – like stairways, brightness is an important factor for landing lighting. You want to ensure safety is a top priority around stairs and landings. The brighter the light, the better.
  • Dimensions – landings can often be odd sizes or shapes. It’s worth measuring the dimensions of your landing as it will help decide what kind of lighting will fit. For example, low ceilings will not support pendants or chandeliers. 
  • Combination lighting – you should try multiple types of lights around the landing, including bright downlights, motion sensor nightlights and strip lighting.
  • Dimmable? – dimmable lights aren’t a necessity. However, if you’ve got a small child, it may be worth investing in a dimmable light which you can leave on overnight. Alternatively, try strip lights for lower levels of illumination.
  • Unifying – your landing lights should complement the lighting in your stairway and hallway. You can even match your landing lights to other rooms upstairs for a completely unified look.

Types of stair and landing lighting

In this section, you will find the most popular types of stair lighting. You will find recommended stairway types for each kind of lighting as well as the best brands available.

Recessed lights

Recessed stair lights are one of the most popular types of stair lighting. As the name suggests, these lights are fitted inside the ceiling. Recessed lights take up very little space, with only the lip of the light going beyond the ceiling level.

You can also install recessed lights into steps (known as step lights) for better illumination on the stairs. Particularly useful for families with children or the elderly.

Recommended for

  • Small stairs
  • Low ceilings
8w led downlight

Best recessed lights for stairs:

SOLO All In One 10w LED Dimmable Downlight

The SOLO All In One is an innovative product that offers an array of bezels and colour temperatures in a single light. This flexibility puts it firmly in one of the best recessed lights available.

Key benefits:

  • Multiple colour temperatures – 3000k, 4000k and 6000k
  • 3 fascia finishes – brushed steel, white and chrome
  • 90-minute fire rating

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Pendant lights

Pendant lighting is a common type of landing light, although it can be used up the stairs if the ceiling is high enough. Pendant lighting is usually used to illuminate smaller landings and staircases. Sometimes, if the stairs are particularly small, a single pendant light is all you will need for landings and stairs. However, pendant lighting can also be used in combination with other lights. You use recessed lights leading up the stairs with a pendant light to illuminate the landing.

Recommended for:

  • High ceilings
  • Smaller stairs
  • Combination lighting (multiple light sources)
pendant in room

Best pendant light fitting:

1.8m Vintage E27 Pendant

If you’re looking for a vintage style, this vintage LED pendant is perfect for your stair or landing. The decorative cord is available in the following styles: brushed brass, copper, gold.

Key benefits:

  • Ultra-strong and durable
  • Can be cut to required length
  • LED energy efficiency with a vintage twist
  • Comes with 1.8m cable, ceiling rose, lampshade ring and fixings

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Chandeliers are classically seen as the epitome of luxury. They are often the centrepiece of any room that draws the attention of your guest. Chandeliers are unlikely to be your stairway landing, but in more classical-style homes they may be used as landing lighting.

You will need enough space to fit a chandelier. If you are looking to purchase a classical style chandelier, your home will need to match the style. If you live in a modern home, there are also many contemporary style chandeliers to choose from.

Recommended for:

  • Large landings
  • High ceilings
  • Luxurious homes

Strip lighting

Strip lights (also known as ribbon lights) are a stylish addition to the stairs which can be used in combination with another type of light. LED strip lights consist of a thin strip of LED lights which can be installed in almost any nook or cranny. This level of versatility gives buyers a lot of choice on where they would like to install the lighting.

Using strip lighting along a bannister or skirting board leading up the stairs can add a stylish look whilst also providing guidance up and down the stairs. Strip lighting can be left on overnight as it uses very little energy, but provides enough light to guide people up and down the stairs.

Strip lighting can also be used to highlight certain aspects of a room. If you have a mirror or a piece of art on the stairs, strip lights can help highlight them.

Recommended for:

  • Stylish homes
  • Modern hallways/stairs and landings
warm white ribbon light

Best strip lighting for stairs and landings:

LED strip light ribbon SMD5050

Warm-white in colour, this LED strip light ribbon is waterproof, 5-metres long and utilises ultra-bright LEDs. The LED strip is easy to install and flexible, meaning you can fit it almost anywhere on your stairs or landing.

Key benefits:

  • Cuttable every 3 LEDs
  • 3M adhesive back
  • 60 ultra-bright LEDs per metre
  • Runs on DC 12V

Available colours:

  • Red
  • Warm white
  • Green

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Motion sensor lights

Motion sensor lights are mostly used in homes with children or the elderly. They can often be installed within the walls/ceilings. They are excellent energy-saving solutions, as they will only activate once motion is detected.

You can install motion-activated lights, which can be somewhat expensive. Alternatively, most modern nightlights are motion activated. If your landing has a socket, you can simply plug in a nightlight there.

Recommended for:

  • Families with children or the elderly
  • People who need to go to the bathroom frequently


In this section, you will find frequently asked questions around stair and landing installation. Your priority when installing stair and landing lights is safety. Stairs are a hazardous area of the home. Do not risk your safety when installing lights. If you are at all concerned, hire a professional.

How to install recessed step lighting

The following is a simple overview of important steps to take when installing recessed step lighting. Make sure you follow all manufacturer instructions. If you are unsure, always hire a trained professional.

  1. Choose step light location – Step lighting and other low-level lighting is relatively flexible in terms of positioning. You can position the lights on the walls to the side of the steps or in the steps themselves. Some lights can even fit underneath the lip of each step
  2. Cut or drill an opening to place the recessed lights – make sure you follow manufacturers instruction to ensure you cut the right size.
  3. Run wiring from light to light – ensure that you use wiring that matches the correct voltage
  4. Dimmable? – dimmable lights aren’t a necessity. However, if you’ve got a small child, it may be worth investing in a dimmable light which you can leave on overnight. Alternatively, try strip lights for lower levels of illumination.
  5. Test lighting from the mains

How to change a lightbulb over stairs

Safety should be the most important issue to you when looking to replace a light bulb over the stairs. Stairs can pose a real danger and should be treated seriously.

If a light is out of reach above the stairs, you have a couple of options:

  • Hire a professional – this may seem overboard but you can hire a professional for low rates. They will come prepared with the relevant equipment to ensure safety.
  • Purchase a light bulb changer pole – these can be pricey but worth it in the long run. They are an extendable pole with a suction cup at the end, designed to ease the light bulb changing process. This will only really work with screw lights.
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