When designing your home, you have a lot to consider. It can be easy to forget about something as simple as your stairs. But your stairs play an essential role in getting around your home, so you should choose the best flooring for them.
Stairs should have carpets to reduce the risk of falls. While carpeting won’t prevent falls, it can give people and pets more traction when going up and down. Carpet also provides more cushion than wood, so it can be safer if someone does fall. However, wood stairs are easier to clean.
If you need to redo your stairs, consider if you should use carpeting or wood. Both flooring options have pros and cons, so you should think about your situation. Keep reading to learn about both choices and which one you should choose.
Pros of Carpet
One of the biggest pros of carpeting on stairs is that it is safe. The carpet offers a bit of traction as you go up and down, so you can decrease the chance of slipping. It won’t get rid of your risk of falling, but it can also make the fall less uncomfortable by cushioning you.
Another advantage of carpet stairs is that they can absorb sound. If your stairs are right by a bedroom or office, you can probably hear everyone as they walk up and down on the wood. But the right carpeting can mitigate that.
Carpet is also a good option if you have a tight budget. You can save a lot of money because you don’t have to worry about buying wood and preparing it for the stairs.
Cons of Carpet
Some carpets aren’t as safe as others, so you may still slip. Depending on the fiber density and carpet length, you may slip as often as you would on wood stairs.
Carpeting can also collect dirt, dust, and human and pet hair. As you and your family go up and down, the stairs can get dirty pretty quickly. Unless you’re willing to clean the stairs every day, you may want to choose wood flooring.
Also, over time, the carpeting may start to pull away from the stairs. You may need to put in a new carpet, and that can take time and money. When the carpet pulls away, it may not be as safe as it once was.
What You Can Do
If you want to use carpeting on your stairs, you can get past the downsides. Some people have carpet stairs, and they love it. After all, carpet provides a lot of benefits to the whole family. And it can be an easy option if you don’t want to deal with wood.
The carpeting may not look the best, and it can be hard to clean, but it’s an economical option for a lot of houses. Here are a couple of ways you can get over the biggest disadvantages of carpet stairs.
If you’re concerned about safety, look for the right type of carpet. Loop pile carpet is where the fibers are in loops, and this type can be durable and smooth. Within this category are a few different subtypes, including Berber, level loop, and multi-level loop.
Berber is probably the best type for stairs because the others tend to have patterns. However, any of them can look good and be a nice choice for your stairs.
You can also find cut pile carpets, which is where the fibers don’t use loops. Saxony, textured, and frieze carpets are some of the most popular types in this category. The first two offer tight fibers, so they can offer durability and avoid the problems of shag carpeting.
Frieze carpets are more like shag carpets, and they aren’t the best for high-traffic areas, like stairs. So leave this type as the last resort.
You can also keep your carpets clean if you’re willing to spend more time on them. Run a vacuum on your stairs a few times a week to keep them from getting too much dirt or hair building up.
That way, you can keep the stairs clean and safe for your family. You don’t need to spend a ton of time cleaning each day, but the more you do it, the more it can help.
Suppose you’re too busy or don’t want to clean your stairs that often, you can hire a cleaning service. You can ask if the company offers individual services, so you can have someone just do your stairs when you don’t have the time.
Pros of Wood Flooring
The biggest advantage of wood flooring is that you can save a lot of money by refinishing existing stairs. All you’ll need is some new finish and the labor to do it. You won’t have to spend money on carpeting or carpet installation, and you can do the refinish in a few days.
Wood stairs can also be a more aesthetic choice if your floors are all wood. While carpeting can be safer, it won’t necessarily look very good if everything around it isn’t carpet.
Choosing wood stairs will also look a lot nicer if your floors are wood. You can choose the same wood to make your home more cohesive. It’s a small detail that you may not always notice, but it can make things look smoother.
Wood floors are also a lot easier to clean than carpet. You can use a broom and dustpan, and you can go a lot longer between cleaning the stairs.
Cons of Wood Flooring
Unfortunately, if you need to buy new wood stairs, that will cost about twice as much as carpeting. You’ll need to save up a lot of money before you get new stairs, or you may have to finance the purchase.
Wood stairs can also be a lot louder than carpeting because nothing can absorb the sound. That may not matter in some homes, but it can be a nuisance to anyone sleeping or working right by the stairs.
And, of course, wood floors can be dangerous. If you aren’t careful, you can slip and fall on the stairs, and the wood can make for a hard fall. You don’t have anything to protect you or cushion you.
What You Can Do
If you want to have wood stairs because the rest of your home is wood or you just want to refinish what you have, you can. There will always be disadvantages to the things you do to your home. The good news is that you can find some affordable, easy solutions.
Wood flooring has more cons than carpeting, but it can be a good option for aesthetics. If you’re worried about the cons, such as safety, here are a couple of things you can do when you get wood stairs.
Use a Carpet Runner
You can use a carpet runner to cover each of your steps with carpet while leaving the wood sides open. This can be a great compromise if you want to show off the wood finish but want the added safety and quietness of carpeting.
You don’t have to pay for all new carpet, but you can use the stairs as if they were carpet. A carpet runner is an excellent choice for longer staircases or if you want something more permanent on your stairs.
Once you install the carpet runner, you can keep it there until you choose to redo your stairs. Plus, it can be easier to fix if the carpet starts to pull up and away from the stairs.
Use Carpet Treads
Carpet treads are an even easier option than a carpet runner. You can buy the treads from any home improvement store, and you can install them yourself in a few minutes. The carpet treads go on individual stairs, so they don’t have to follow the entire staircase up and down.
Getting carpet treads can be a good choice for a shorter staircase. The treads function just like carpeting or a carpet runner, but they cover even less space on each stair. That makes them easy to clean, and you can even remove the treads if they get too dirty.
You can replace one with a new tread, and that can be a lot easier and more affordable than replacing the entire carpeting or carpet runner. Carpet treads don’t always feel like carpet, though, but they’re still good at adding traction and making your steps quieter.
What to Consider
Before you decide if your stairs should have carpet or wood flooring, you should consider the various factors. Of course, you may already have a preference. In that case, you should go with the option you want because that will make you feel more comfortable.
However, if you still don’t know which option to choose, you should do more research. Think about everything from your current home to your budget to your family’s schedule. That way, you can decide on the best option for your stairs.
What You Currently Have
Consider if you currently have carpet or wood stairs. Keeping the same flooring will be a lot easier than switching to the other option, especially if you currently have carpet. Odds are, the wood underneath isn’t in the best shape, so you would need to invest a lot in new stairs.
If you currently have wood flooring, refinishing it is also more affordable than switching to carpet. You can always add carpet treads or a runner to enjoy some of the benefits of carpeting without spending a ton of money.
But if you want to switch, you should switch. You can consider some other factors to help decide if keeping the same flooring is better.
The Rest of Your House
You probably want your house to look good and cohesive throughout all of the common areas. And if those areas involve stairs, the stairs should match the surrounding floors. So if your main floor is wood, you may want to use wood on your main staircase.
But if you have stairs leading down to a basement with carpeting, you may want to use carpeting on those stairs. That can be a good option if you have a door that leads to the stairs that go down to the basement. However, if the door is at the bottom of the stairs, you can match the stairs to the floor above.
You can mix and match and have some stairs with wood flooring and others with carpeting. Consider how each looks in that part of the house to decide which is best there.
Another thing to think about is how much installing and maintaining the stairs will cost you. Carpeting is cheaper than wood, but it requires a lot more ongoing maintenance. You’ll need to spend more time vacuuming a set of carpet stairs, or you’ll have to deal with more dirt.
On the other hand, wood can be a more expensive investment up front. However, it won’t collect as much dirt, so you can go a few days between when you sweep it. That can be nice if you have a busy schedule and can’t afford for someone else to clean the stairs.
But wood floors can scratch, so you may need to refinish or repair them more often. It probably evens out eventually, so think about if you have more money to spend now to help decide which flooring to get.
Maintenance and Cleaning
No one likes to spend time cleaning, and the stairs can be harder than a lot of places in your house. Fortunately, you can run a broom and dustpan over your stairs and collect all of the dirt and hair at the bottom. Cleaning wood is easy enough.
But if you need to clean your carpet stairs, you’ll need to get a vacuum. You’ll need to have an outlet nearby to use a corded vacuum, or you’ll need to make sure you charge your wireless vacuum before you decide to clean.
Both options can require some planning, and it can be hard to maneuver a bulky vacuum up and down the stairs. If you aren’t willing to do that, you may find that your stairs collect a lot of hair and dust.
Proneness to Slipping
Think about if you or anyone in your family tends to slip on stairs. Perhaps your spouse doesn’t have the best hips, or your kids like to run up and down, causing them to fall. Or maybe you have dogs, and they aren’t very careful on the stairs.
Getting carpeting or adding a carpet runner can help with this. You may still fall, but you probably won’t fall as often as you would on wood alone.
If you never fall, you may prefer the benefits of wood. Wood flooring can look sleek, so as long as you’re careful, it can be a good alternative.
Consider where your stairs are in relation to other rooms. Are they right next to your home office or someone’s bedroom? If so, go in that room and shut the door. Have someone walk up and down the stairs to see how much you can hear now.
Carpeting is much better at absorbing sound than wood. So if you can clearly hear someone’s footsteps, you may want to use carpet on those stairs. That way, you can focus on your work during the day or get a good night’s sleep.
But if your stairs aren’t right by these rooms, you can use wood flooring. You won’t have to worry about disturbing others when you walk up and down.
When deciding on what carpeting to get, consider how often someone uses a particular staircase. You should look for more durable, shorter carpets to use on the more common staircases in your home. That way, the stairs can hold up to more traffic.
For example, shag carpeting won’t last as long as the tighter weaves, even though it can mask footprints. If you have stairs leading to a bedroom or the basement, you can use shag carpeting there since you probably won’t use those stairs that much.
But for the stairs between the main levels, you should choose wood or a more durable carpet. That way, the stairs can last longer and withstand more foot traffic.
Who Should Choose Carpeting?
You should choose carpeting for your stairs if you tend to slip easily. Carpeting is also a good option if the stairs are next to a bedroom or office to mask the sound. You should also use carpeting on stairs that lead to a carpeted room or floor so that the two can match and flow well.
Who Should Choose Wood Flooring?
If you aren’t concerned about slipping on the stairs, wood can be a great option. It’s the better choice for homes with wood floors because it can keep everything cohesive. Wood is also an excellent choice if you don’t want to deal with the extra cleaning and maintenance of carpeting.
Carpeting is the better choice for more staircases. However, wood can look a lot better and is easier to clean than carpeting. Consider if your home has more wood or carpeting and if you tend to fall on your stairs. Then, you can select the right option for your home.
- The Spruce: Pros and Cons of Carpeting on Stairs
- Home Stratosphere: The 7 Different Types of Carpet For Your Home
- Jabara’s: Should I Should Choose Wood or Carpet Flooring For Stairs?
- Patch: Why are carpet runners important for steps?
- Dean Flooring Company: Non-Skid Carpet Stair Treads
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