For most of us, it is almost impossible to imagine a home’s staircase without a welcoming carpet. Yet, choosing a carpet for stairs is nowhere close to an easy task, as we’re discussing a high-traffic area where wear and tear is particularly obvious.

Plus, stairs with carpets are simply more welcoming, and we shouldn’t deprive them the beautifying effort with so many great stair covering options.

Which is the right carpet for you? When getting a carpet for stairs, you have to consider the thickness and quality of the fabric, and have it cut in the appropriate dimensions in order to install it successfully. It is only then that you can think of the style and the color.

A good stair carpet has to wrap perfectly around the edges of the stairs, or fit neatly under the railing posts in case you have such. This ensures both the smooth look and the safety of your staircase.

Next, you have to pick a print/color that matches the hall carpet, as everything else would create a confusing, funhouse effect. Given that the staircase is the first things all visitors notice when entering your place, you have to make it welcoming and appealing.

Getting a new carpet for stairs? These are the 5 main qualities you should be looking for:

  • Durability
  • Solid material
  • Thickness
  • Matching patterns
  • Matching colors

Let us share some of our stair carpets ideas:

A thick carpet will keep you and your stairs safe

Lake-Retreat-by-Rebecca-Driggs-Interiors The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Rebecca Driggs Interiors

When looking for the best carpet for stairs, our priority should be good quality. The approach is pretty much the same as the one we have when choosing material for our stairs.

We all want our stairs to last, and we therefore pick hard and resistant surfaces such as laminate and hardwood. This doesn’t have to mean, however, that we don’t need a stairs carpet or a stairs rug.

Without a carpet over them, hard surfaces tend to be slippery and insecure. In case you fall, you won’t have a soft landing area, and you are much likelier to get injured. This also explains why you should look only for hard wearing stair carpets.

Quality consideration for your stairs floor covering

Chic-and-Classic-by-Lacy-Green-enzy-design The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Lacy Green, enzy design

High traffic is not the only thing that can damage your stairs over the years. By default, they are much more sensitive than flat surfaces, and cope with the force of gravity each time you walk over them.

This makes it even more important to get the best quality carpet you can find, and even upgrade it with safety carpet pads for stairs to preserve its good looks.

The investment in proper stair carpeting is not a modest one, but it certainly pays off on the long run.

Durable staircase carpeting

The better your stair carpet is the longer it will last, and the longer you will be able to enjoy its good looks.

We once again recommend you to pick the most durable material you can find, making sure that it can still fold and wrap appropriately. A note: The carpet materials you chose for your bathroom or living room are hardly suitable for the stairs.

Thickness considerations

Minneapolis-Custom-Home-by-Kroiss-Development The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Kroiss Development, Inc.

Most homeowners out there would say ‘the thicker the better’, but it doesn’t have to be so. There are many thin-profile carpets that proved to be durable, unlike their thick counterparts filled with nothing but air.

Thickness decides, more or less, whether a carpet is sustainable, but you shouldn’t exaggerate with it.

A very thick carpet won’t b able to wrap neatly around the front edge of the stair, and can therefore represent a safety concern for the person walking on it. Basically, your thick carpet can cause pretty much the same injuries and falls as a thin one would.

You can get some professional advice from carpet installers, as they don’t recommend thick carpets at the first place. What they suggest is a ½ inch high pile with an 8 pounds density (or more), ideally combined with 7/16 inch carpet padding.

Resistance to soil

Bartan-Project-by-Lappin-Lighting The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Lappin Lighting

Your stairs carpet may not be that exposed to staining, but you have to ensure it has the proper soiling resistance.

You can’t always avoid causing residue with your feet oils, but you can make sure it doesn’t stick to the fibers that easily. For maximal protection, try walking on the carpet with slippers or socks.

Don’t expect too much from it

Larchmont-Home-by-Tim-Lenz-Photography The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Tim Lenz Photography

You may have chosen the best carpet for stairs you could find, and paid the installer a fortune to make it work – that still doesn’t mean that this carpet will outlast the other carpets you have. Before it gets severely damaged, get a backup piece and replace it mid-way.

Appearance considerations

Cooper-Woods-Modern-Tudor-by-Havlicek-Builders-Inc The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Havlicek Builders Inc.

There are no rules or limitations to as which color or style is ideal for a stairs carpet. Yet, a patterned stair carpet may turn out a challenge, since you have to wrap it around the edges, and still keep the pattern clearly visible.

A problem you may encounter is revealing the backing or seaming of the carpet as you wrap it on the edges, an issue quite common even with the best Berber carpets for stairs.

The backing of your stair carpet is not supposed to show, at least not if you’re buying a high-quality product. Note that this may also be an installation issue – if the edges weren’t wrapped properly, the backing will be visible.

Other than shapes and sizes, stair carpets also have directions, and they should run from the top towards the bottom. If you position those sideways, for instance, you will compromise their proper wear, looks, and performance.

Berber carpeting is where most of these unpleasant installation mistakes happen. If you bend your Berber carpet backwards, for instance, and if you’re able to see the backing between the rows, you’re probably bending it in the wrong direction.

Experts in the industry refer to this as “smiling”. Since the loop rows on a carpet are stitched lengthwise, bending the carpet sideways causes them to move from side to side.

When the carpet is positioned right, the rows fold over the band, and there is no longer a smiling effect. In short, you should always install your carpet lengthwise.

Visible backing happens frequently on carpets that need to wrap around outer edges (on one or both sides), as they were not designed for bending in the opposite direction. Yet, if you get yourself a top-quality Berber carpet, this shouldn’t be an issue.

The seams, on the other hand, are easy to hide with proper installation. To stay on the safe side, choose longer piles (friezes, for instance) with no loops.

Carpeting for open stairs

Big-View-Home-by-Sendero-Homes The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Sendero Homes

Open stair concepts impose an additional carpeting challenge. Now you need a piece that bends smoothly in 2 directions – lengthwise, to fall neatly over the stair’s front; and widthwise, to wrap well around the sides.

As we mentioned, not all carpets bent that well, which is why you may experience the smiling effect on the sides.

Owners of open stairs should always be after high-quality, large-loop Berber carpets, as these don’t show the space between rows when bent over.

Carpet colours for stairs

Alternative-Flooring-by-Alternative-Flooring The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Alternative Flooring

If planning to keep the stairs carpet simple, stick to a neutral and light palette. The reason why stairs and hallway carpets are rarely dark is because we don’t want them to make our narrow areas look even smaller, and to deprive them of the little natural light they’re getting.

At the same time, we’d all skip the lighter stair covering options if we could, as we know how easily they stain, and how difficult it is to clean them.

So which are the best colors for stairway carpets? We’d list taupe and light gray first!

Installing your staircase carpet – the things you should know

Carpeted-Stairs-by-Molyneau The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Molyneaux Tile Carpet Wood

You can install your carpet for stairs in two different ways – following the Waterfall or the French cap method.

The difference is as follows: You will either bent the carpet over the front edges until it meets the next step’s thread; or wrap it around the edge and then tuck it under the stair’s lip, letting it configure the whole look of the step.

As you can conclude, the first method is easier and less time-consuming, but won’t have a particularly neat or tailored effect.

Keep visual continuity in mind

Staircase-by-LAJ-Wood-Products-Inc The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: LAJ Wood Products Inc

Visual continuity impacts significantly the flow of your home. That counts in particular for your stair covering, as we’re discussing a heavily used area of your house that keeps it together; and that creates the sense of integration between different rooms.

A staircase carpet, however, would make little sense if your lower and upper floor doesn’t have any.

What you can do to avoid this ‘out of place’ look is to use a runner and to leave portions of the hardwood visible. This way, you will ensure continuity, but also preserve the comfort and safety a staircase carpet provides.

Creative stair and landing carpets

Staircases The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Mr. Hardwood, Inc.

Homeowners with switchback stairs may have a more difficult time choosing the right carpet.

Yet, they’ve got an amazing structural element to work with, and think of all sorts of creative flooring solutions to invoke interest. As an idea, they can carpet the upper and lower portion of the stairs, but leave the lending portion in hardwood for a more dramatic effect.

Safety comes first

Railings-by-Crosstree- The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Crosstree

According to experts, the best carpets and rugs for stairs are those that can ensure the maximal safety. Safety is, in fact, the main reason why we use carpets, as we could otherwise let our gorgeous hardwood show, and yet risk slipping over it.

Carpets for stairs are a smart solution for every family, especially those that have children or elder people moving around.

To increase the safety of your carpeting solution, you can consider buying a runner or stair carpet pads. It may cost a bit more, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Observe your stair carpet from the bottom up

Stairways-by-Exceed-Floor-Home The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Exceed Floor & Home

What matters in the end is how your carpet looks from the lower area, and not the other way around. This is why it should match predominantly the bottom flooring solution.


East-Lake-tuscan-by-Alger-Customs The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Alger Customs

Stringers is the common name for different side supports on a staircase. If you want them to match, you can always paint them or cover them with your carpeting material. It all depends on what you prefer.

In most of the cases, people wrap up their stringers for aesthetic reasons. Yet, DIY carpeting can also make a lot of sense on imperfect and old stringers, as it covers their flaws.

The temporary way to handle stringers, however, is to leave them uncovered, or to paint them the same way we’ve painted the trim.

Warranty coverage

Stair-Rails-by-Old-World-Iron The carpet for stairs and how to pick the best one out thereImage source: Old World Iron

As strange as it sounds, a warranty is not a common practice among carpet vendors. Despite of selling hundreds of them each month, manufacturers smartly exclude stair carpeting from all their warranty policies.

This doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t find a manufacturer that does. If you do get a warranty (even a short one), make sure you test the resistance of the carpet before it expires.

Summing up, there is no better solution to protect high-quality stairs than covering them with a carpet.

This carpet will preferably be a high-quality one, durable and able to sustain high traffic, and resistant to staining and soiling. A good, hard wearing carpet for stairs and landings will ideally be made of coir o sisal.

When it comes to colors, stick to a pale and neutral palette to keep your small hall bright. Yet, choose a color that is not that easy to stain. Playful patterns are also cool, as long as you can match them with the rest of your flooring ideas.