I love the look of wood, especially hardwoods like cherry (especially Brazilian cherry), hickory, black walnut and Brazilian walnut, black walnut, birch, cypress, bloodwood, cumaru, maple and mahogany. Unfortunately, although not surprisingly, custom stair treads hardwoods are expensive. One approach is to build with more economical construction grade materials and then cover them with beautiful hardwoods. This is the typical approach with wooden stair treads.
Staircases are built with construction grade materials which are strong and durable but not very pretty, and then the stairs are covered with beautiful wood. As the treads are typically only 1 inch thick, you minimize the use of expensive materials, get the same beautiful look, yet do not compromise on strength or durability. Wooded stair treads are available in just about every type of wood imaginable, including all the above. Red oak is one of my favorites as it’s relatively economical yet is a beautiful wood. It’s available finished or unfinished, which can be stained and finished to match just about any decor.
They are available in many thicknesses and sizes, including the standard one inch, one and a half inches, and two inches, as well as custom sizes for a bit more money. And there are multiple shapes available for where stairs change direction and curved ones can be cut for custom curved stairs.
They can even be used to refinish existing staircases. Usually thinner replacement treads are used for this purpose, and local building codes may have specific requirements. They are a great option for refinishing older staircases.