Choosing the Best Carpet for Your Stairs

Carpets continue to be a popular covering for stair treads, but the decision as to which is the most suitable is often difficult to make. On staircases the style and color are significant, but other more important factors to take into consideration are the carpet durability and thickness.  Thickness is important because the carpet wraps around the edge of the stair and through the railing posts, you need to consider that it will have to still look neat wherever it tucks in. 

Uses of carpets on stairs

Safety is one of the main reasons why stairs are covered with carpets and even when laminates and hardwood surfaces are chosen, many people choose to install carpet runners to make them non slip. Some people may opt to cover older wooden stairs to enhance their appearance. Carpeting also offer protection from most injuries if anyone does fall. 

Importance of quality

Foot traffic is always greater on stairs than any other area within a home. The staircase also has wear and tear because of the added force of gravity as people descend. That means that you will have to use the highest quality carpeting and padding to avoid frequent replacing. 

Don’t make the mistake of using the same carpeting as you have chosen for your bedrooms and halls on the stairs. Since the stairs are usually a high-traffic area, this carpeting might not be suitable and will wear away faster. Choose a style and quality that is durable and high-grade for your stairs, but make sure that it is not too thick. 

Thickness and safety

The most durable carpets are not the thicker ones. The thickest carpets are full of air and it is usually those with the thinnest profiles that can cope best with heavy duty traffic. 

Safety is another consideration as to why thicker carpets should be avoided on stairs. If a carpet is too thick it can cause a gap where it is wrapped around the nosing of the stair. The nosing is the front edge of the tread and it acts like a ramp for your foot. Any gap there will not allow it to do that, and will create a potential hazard for slips and falls. 

Protection from soiling

Even though carpets on stairs are not prone to staining from spills, like those in living rooms, they still need to be soil resistant. Residues can collect on stair carpets from the bottom of your feet, but this can be prevented by encouraging everyone in your family to wear slippers or socks in your home. However, if your family prefers to go barefoot, or you have pets, then the carpet will have to be soil resistant because carpet fibers attract dirt particles readily, soiling the carpet. 

Best carpet style for stairs

Any carpet style is suitable for stairs, as long as it’s not too thick.  Its quality will affect how it wraps around the edge of the stair and how it looks where it is cut at the railing posts. The backing of even the lowest grade carpet will never be visible as it wraps around the stairs, unless it has not been properly installed. Even looped carpets don’t show their backing wrapped. Unless the carpet is extremely low-grade, the seams won’t be evident where it has been joined at the posts either. 

When the carpet is laid, it’s important that its pile faces the correct direction. It must run from the top to the bottom of the stairs and never sideways. This serves two purposes: the carpets will have better wear and you will not be able to see between the rows of its pile when you bend it. 

When you can see the backing of a carpet between the rows, it is referred to as “smiling”. This usually happens, especially in a Berber, because it is been bent sideways. Because the loops in a carpet are always stitched lengthwise, in order for it not to “smile” it must be turned around with the rows going from top to bottom, and you will see the loops fold over the bend in unison. That is why the carpet is always installed lengthwise, with the rows of loops running from the top of the stairs to the bottom its pile is in the right direction. .

Berber carpets, when laid on the outside of open staircases may have some of the backings showing, because the carpet needs to be bent in the opposite direction. However, a better quality Berber will not do this. 

When the carpet is installed the seams should also not be visible, but bear in mind that there are some carpet types that hide seems better. These are usually the ones with longer piles like friezes and saxonies and with shorter or looped piles they may be slightly more noticeable. 

Methods of installing carpets

There are two methods of installing carpets on stairs.

Waterfall method – The carpet will simply be bent over the edge of the stair and brought straight down to the tread of the next stair. Because it is easy and fast it is often used nowadays. 

French cap method – Here the carpet is wrapped around the edge of the stair and tucked in under the lip, outlining the stair’s shape. The method gives the stairs a tailored look and requires time and skill to do it perfectly. 

Other areas to cover

Carpeting the stringers or side supports of the stairs, is no longer fashionable, but if yours are old or rough looking, you may want to conceal them. 

Final scoop on smarter buying tips

Besides looking for durability, the right thickness, style, and soil proofed carpeting for your stairs, also take the time to consider one other thing – warranty coverage. Up until recently, any carpet purchased for stairs had no warranty cover, but now many accompanies do offer it and it’s advisable to purchase from them. The right selection and installation will ensure that your stairs are safe and beautifully covered for years to come.

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