Saying that stairs are high-traffic is an understatement. Stairs withstand heavy foot traffic, repeated runs by four-legged friends, and all the spills that come with a busy household. And that’s not even counting the times homeowners have dragged suitcases, furniture, and other hefty items up and down stairs. (In some homes, it’s the pets who drag objects up and down steps, such as their toys and beds!)
During certain times of the year, homeowners also subject stairs to mud, sleet, and snow. A quick run into the house tracks mud and melting snow on to entryway steps. A pet on the run leaves muddy paw prints up and down the stairs. That last run upstairs for “one more thing” results in a trail of gravel and wet puddles. All of that activity can do a number on stairs, scratching and damaging even the most well-built staircase.
Carpet is a popular choice for protecting steps from wear and tear. The next step is narrow down options and choose the best carpet for the stairs. The best carpet is different in every home, but there are several criteria that can be used to choose the right carpeting.
Carpets are made of fibers. The height of the fibers is called a pile. While high-pile carpets are soft and comfortable underfoot, these floors are not usually the best fit for stairs. Thicker carpet does not necessarily equate to high-quality. In a high-traffic area like the stairs, high-pile carpets can flatten and show marks over time. Basically, thicker carpets are not the best long-term choice for stairs.
Low-pile carpets, on the other hand, tend to show less marks and are easier to maintain. This makes low-pile carpets ideal for stairs, though pet owners should be careful when choosing the best low-pile carpet for their steps. Certain low-pile carpets, such as Berber, have tight loops that can get caught in pet nails and cause long-term damage. To choose the best carpet, talk to a local flooring pro about low-pile options for the stairs.
Even if the most careful homes, stains and spills on stair carpets do happen. There are several types of carpet fibers that are stain-resistant and easy-to-clean.
One of the most popular choices is nylon. Carpets made with nylon fibers are stain-resistant and incredibly durable. Nylon is also a synthetic fiber, meaning it is often more affordable than natural fibers. Polyester is another stain-resistant synthetic fiber, though it is less popular because it is not quite as durable.
There are also natural carpet fibers that can be suitable for stairs as well. Sisal and sea grass carpets are a green product that is becoming more popular. Both options are durable, though homeowners should be careful; some natural carpet fibers are prone to stains and need special care when cleaning. (Ask a pro about the specific carpet fiber and care required.)
For homes with allergies, hypoallergenic is a top factor when choosing carpet for stairs. Hypoallergenic carpets come with features that reduce allergens in the home. There are also hypoallergenic pads and adhesives that can be used to ensure that stair carpeting does not trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. Talk to a pro about hypoallergenic carpets and pads. In addition to being hypoallergenic, carpet should be installed on stairs with a firm carpet pad (as opposed to a more cushioned pad). A firm carpet pad withstands a lot of foot and paw traffic and ensures that the carpet is a steady surface.
Good fit with decor
In addition to tough, choosing the right carpet for stairs is a home décor opportunity. Carpet on stairs can make a neutral statement or add interest to a space. For neutral carpet, homeowners should consider solids and subtle pattern carpets. For a statement piece, carpets with patterns and unique textures can become a statement piece that coordinates with other floors, window treatments, railings, and décor.
In addition to be a valuable part of décor, there is another consideration. Dark-colored, patterned, and textured carpets not only fit with décor, but also hide stains and marks. The best way to select the right carpet is to check out and sift through the flooring options for stairs.