One of the most frequently asked questions we get from designers is, “ What type of carpeting works best for stairs?”

There are many factors to consider in this question. Designers need to keep in mind the client’s lifestyle; if the stairs are high traffic or rarely used; are your clients younger or older? do they have kids?, etc. With the carpet itself there are also many factors to keep in mind, such as the type of carpet, carpet fiber, density, carpet rating, twist rating, and pattern.

In general, the best type of carpet for high traffic stairs is woven low profile cut pile. The low profile doesn’t tend to matt down easily and will show less wear over time. Woven carpet helps ensure that the carpet lasts and that the stitches all stay in place and is typically very dense.

Another characteristic that should be considered is the density of the carpet fibers. The denser the fiber the more likely it will keep its form and the less likely it will crush. If the carpet isn't that thick, you may end up seeing the unsightly backing when the carpet is curved over the steps. A dense carpet will ensure that it keeps looking fresh over time.

The type of fibers that are best for high traffic and stairs are Wool, Nylon, and PTT Polyesters because they are strong, dense and clean well. Avoid fibers like Olefin or Polypropylene because they don’t tend to hold up as well .

Of course, the aesthetics is a huge consideration for a designer. We have a huge selection of solid, textured and patterns that would work great for your next project. Something with a texture would work best in the practical sense, since this hides dirt and stains easily. Patterns also does the same thing, but you need to be careful because certain patterns can create an optical illusion and will effect a persons spatial judgment. Pattern also affects the installation price. For easier installation and less waste, it is best to choose a small pattern print that has a short repeat. But bolder pattern can look amazing on the stairs, you just need to keep in mind that it might cost more because there would more waste.

A designer can do a few quick simple tests to see if the carpet will look good on the stairs. One is just to bend the sample you are looking at as if it were going over the stairs. You need to look to make sure it doesn’t have the “grin” effect which is a gap on the curve where you can see the ugly straight line of the backing. If you can’t see the backing, than the carpet would be a good choice for the stairs. Another test that you can do is to drag your fingertips across and into the pile of the carpet. If you dig up more than a few fibers, then the carpet may not be dense enough and will continue to loose density over time. If very few fibers come loose, that is good sign that it will retain its original look longer.

Most stairs are considered high traffic, because of the way people walk on them. People tend to put the pressure on the nose/edge of the stair. Some carpets have ratings on the strength of the fibers. The ratings go from 1-5. “1” being the weakest and “5” being the strongest. So if you are looking at ratings, the minimum rating should be “3” for stairs and of course “4 & 5” are outstanding. If you see a rug rated 2.5 or below, those are good for bedroom and moderate traffic areas.

Do you have any thoughts on what makes the perfect carpet for the stairs? Please comment below.

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