Whether or not to carpet interior stairs is a question that haunts many homeowners and some apartment renters. There’s a lot to consider: the look of the stairs, of course, along with comfort, safety, and cleaning issues. Here’s what you should keep in mind.
Slipping and Sliding
Hardwood stairs are notoriously slippery, and decorators often recommend covering them with carpet in homes with small children or elderly residents. On the whole, that is good advice, but not all carpeting is magically slide-proof. Badly installed runners are a real risk, especially on stairs, and some carpet materials become slippery as they wear. If you’re considering carpet specifically to prevent falls, make sure you’re picking the right kind that won’t make the situation worse.
Who will be using these stairs, and what kinds of messes will they make? Since redoing your stairs is an investment, this is an important question to consider. If you live with dogs or other animals (or kids running up and down in soccer cleats!) who might scratch up hardwood stairs, carpet carries a real advantage. But if that dog is still being house-trained, there might be value in sticking with the easier-to-scrub hardwood option.
Overall Look of the Home
Carpeting can look outdated and out of place in sleek, modern homes. In these spaces, carpet runners can be an elegant compromise. Since they show the flooring underneath, they’re a good way to add the conveniences of carpet without dramatically changing a space’s look.
Also, take some time to think about your home’s color scheme. If you’ve been living with darker hardwood stairs or light carpeted ones, a dramatic change in that tone can affect the feel of the entire place. Make sure to note how much lighting (natural and artificial) the stairway gets; a dark floor in a dim place is a recipe for gloominess and lost mittens.
Full Carpeting or Runners
The most important factor in deciding between full carpeting and runners is the quality of your current stairs. If your stairs are in good condition, runners will show off the elegant material underneath. However, if your stairs are constructed of plywood or another non-hardwood material, these can produce unattractive surfaces that decrease your home’s value and appearance. Installing full carpet is usually cheaper in these cases since carpet runners would require you to redo the floor underneath first.
All-in-all, you’re making a choice for your family and your home; your needs are the most important factor at play when making this decision.