Choosing the best carpet for your stairs is different than choosing a carpet for the rest of your home. Not only do you have to consider your style and colour preferences, the carpet you select must be durable.
When choosing carpet for your stairs, you’ll need to follow the criteria below. There are number of different styles available on the market to fit your home’s design. With the proper selection and installation, your stairs will be safe and have beautiful finished look.
When it comes to carpeting stairs, choose the highest quality carpet and cushion that your budget will allow. Stairs experience the most foot traffic in our homes, they weather even more impact when we are descending them. Using high-quality carpet can save you money in the long run as it will not have to be replaced as frequently.
As mentioned, stairs are one of the highest-traffic areas in our homes. Therefore, it’s crucial that the carpet you select is durable enough to withstand years of wear from you and your family. The carpet you have in your bedroom, or other areas of the house, may not be suitable for your stairs. The general rule of thumb is to go with the highest durability carpet within your budget, unless the highest grade is too thick for stair installation.
It’s important to know thickness doesn’t always equal quality and durability. Some of the most durable carpets have the thinnest profiles and some of the thickest carpets are full of air.
Thickness is an important factor. If a carpet is too thick it can be a safety hazard. When thick carpet is wrapped over the nosing of stairs, it is unsupported at the edges and can compress when stepped on leaving you and your family vulnerable to slips and falls. It is also difficult for installers to work with as it is harder to wrap around the nosing and install through the railing.
Ideal carpet pile height is ½ inch or less with carpet padding that is 7/16 inches or less and pile density rating of at least 8 pounds.
It is important to note that there is a difference between staining and soiling. Compared to a living room, stairs are usually not subjected to household spills that would result in potential stains. If the carpet you are choosing will only cover your stairs, stain resistance doesn’t need to be a priority. However, soil resistance should be. Humans transfer oil and residue onto carpets from our feet and our pets do the same through their paws and fur. If you prefer to be barefoot at home or you have pets, soil-resistant carpet is a must.
Style and Appearance
Any style of carpet can be installed on stairs however the main concerns for homeowners include being able to see the backing of the carpet when it is wrapped around the nosing, as well as being able to see the seams. Even most entry-level or builder grade carpet will not show the backing when it is wrapped around the edge of the stair, unless the absolute lowest grade product was used, or it was poorly installed.
If you pick up a carpet sample and bend it, you can see the backing between the rows. This is called “smiling” in the flooring industry. If smiling occurs it means the carpet is being bent the wrong way. Simply turn it so the rows are running from the top of the sample to the bottom (not left to right), and smiling will no longer happen because the loops will fold over the bend in unison.
Carpet pile runs in a specific direction. That direction must run lengthwise from the top of the stairs to the bottom— not sideways. This prevents you from being able to see the rows of fibres when you bend the carpet over the edge of the nosing. Ensuring the carpet pile runs from the top to the bottom of the staircase will also enhance the carpets performance.
When it comes to railings and posts, seams where the carpet has been joined around the posts should not be too noticeable granted that the carpet was properly installed. Carpet types that are better for hiding seams include styles with longer piles, such as friezes and saxonies.
If your stairs are open on one side or both your carpet will have to be bent in two directions. As we mentioned, your carpet will run lengthwise from the top to the bottom of your stairs as well as widthwise over the side of your stairs. This is where you run the risk of side smiling to occur.
A high-quality berber style carpet with larger loops is the best option to avoid side smiling. High quality berbers have less space between the rows, limiting the amount of backing that will be visible.
There are two methods to install carpet on stairs: Waterfall and French cap. Waterfall is the easiest and fastest. It includes bending the carpet over the edge of the stair and then it straight down to meet the tread of the next step. The French cap method involves wrapping the carpet around the edge and is tucking it under the lip to contour to the step. This method requires more time and skill, however, it results in a much more tailored look.
Historically, carpet manufacturers have excluded stairs from warranties. It may seem strange as most houses or residential buildings have stairs, it is important to note if choosing a carpet with warranty that covers stair installation is of value to you. Now, more manufacturers have started including stairs in their warranties. If this is important to you make sure you let your salesperson know so they can show you carpet options that where your stairs will be covered under warranty.
Care and Maintenance
While we are on the topic of warranty, we should mention that many carpet manufacturer warranties require your carpet to be professionally cleaned every 12-18 months. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of voiding your warranty. Not only will an annual professional steam cleaning and regular maintenance ensure your warranty stays valid, it will prolong the life and appearance of your carpets. Check your manufacturers warranty for specific details and remember to keep copies of cleaning invoices in case you need to ever make a claim.
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