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How to Choose the Best Carpet for Stairs

How to Choose the Best Carpet for Stairs

Looking forward to carpeting your stairs? Choosing one can be tricky, since there are many factors to be considered besides mere aesthetics. Budget-friendly or durable, whatever your priority, this DecorDezine article furnishes some tips that will help you take an appropriate decision.
DecorDezine Staff
For a house with pets
If you have pets at home, it is recommended not to use the loop pile tufted carpet for your stairs, since the chances of your pets claws getting entangled in them are pretty high.

Staircases are usually high traffic areas, and hence, its carpet requirements are completely different than other spaces of your home. If you have toddlers, senior members, pregnant women, or pets frequenting the stairs, carpeting them is the best way to avoid slips and falls. A carpet provides cushion to your feet, making it easy to walk on the stairs. Not to mention that a carpet adds elegance and style to your home décor. Also, uncarpeted wooden steps tend to make more noise; hence, a carpet also works as a good sound insulator.

Will all these benefits, choosing one from a wide variety is indeed a daunting task, and the decision depends on your staircase structure, length, width, landing styles, etc. Following are some basic guidelines that you should follow while choosing a suitable carpet for your stairs.

Design

Since these carpets are to be installed on a staircase, the design of the carpet should not be such that it causes wooziness after looking at it. Consider the aesthetics, whether it complements your home decor and color of the walls. Animal prints, geometrical designs, attractive floral or a simple plain design for a stair runner will look elegant. Again, if you have a spiral staircase, avoid carpets with complicated geometrical shapes. You don't want anyone to feel dizzy because of the design of the carpet.

Colors

Prefer mid-tone colors as stairs usually experience high foot traffic, and hence, should be able to sustain friction, scratches, and stains. Dark colors are prone to fading by sunlight, and light colored stains, dust, animal hair, etc. On the other hand, light colors are susceptible to dirt marks, soil stains, etc., and might require frequent cleaning. Make sure that the shed hair of your pet is not visible easily on your carpet. Of course, you can experiment with other colors if you plan to carpet your stairs only occasionally.

Carpet Structure

Among the two basic types of carpets constructions―Wovenand Tufted―the tufted ones are increasingly being replaced by woven carpets due to their lower price. They are a growing fashion, since they can be made faster than woven carpets. They can be broadly classified into cut pile and loop pile carpets. Let's take a look at a face-off between them, on the basis of the best carpeting option for your stairs:

  • Tufted Carpets
Cut Pile

►Twist Pile Beneficial for stairs, and is tightly twisted, and good for busy areas.
►Saxony Not convenient for staircases, since it flattens easily and shows foot marks.
►Frieze They are dense and rough and hide foot marks easily; hence, suitable for stairs.
►Velvet Velvet carpets can lend a rich, luxurious, and high-profile look to your stairs. However, they show foot marks easily, hence are recommended only for low-frequented stairs, or some occasional purposes.

Loop Pile

This type of carpet is durable and suitable for all high traffic areas. Loop pile carpets are not recommended if you have pets, since their claws may get entangled in their loops.

►Berber Though there are mixed reviews regarding the use of this type of carpet, it is known for its high durability, appealing look and lower costs (especially, those made from olefin). However, many claim that it can be subject to snagging, and your cat may love scratching it.

►Level-loop and Multilevel loop carpet Their loop-style tends to be useful in concealing filth and stains, the only difference between both, being the height of the loops.

Note: The CRI recommends pile heights that are lesser than ½ inch or a less for heavy traffic areas like stairs.

  • Woven Carpets 
Traditionally, woven carpets were reigning the carpet industry before tufted carpets made an entry.

►They are good for stairs, since they provide a backing to the floor.
►However, they're more expensive than tufted carpets.
►Traditionally, wool is used in woven carpets. Woven carpets are durable and also proudly claim to be more nature-friendly.
►Since they last long, they are beneficial for the environment as the frequency of replacing them is less than other carpet constructions.
►Among the woven patterns, Wilton and Axminster patterns are the most popular ones.

Verdict

If you don't mind spending extra and wish to stick to tradition, go for woven carpets. Of course, another advantage is that more the durability, lesser the chances of replacing it, which makes it nature-friendly. But for those on a budget, go for a tufted carpet. Of course, in tufted carpets, the twist pile and frieze carpets score better. Loop pile carpets are known to be conducive for stairs, since they regain their shape in spite of experiencing heavy foot traffic. However, they suffer the limitation of being non-conducive for a house with pets.

For more information on carpet styles, refer to Buzzle's article on Different Styles and Types of Carpets.

Best Carpet Fibers

There are various types of fabrics used in a carpet; namely, wool, nylon, polyester and polypropylene, jute, cotton, silk, etc. Following is a comparison between them.

  • Wool
Pros
►It ensures a non-allergic, durable, and soft padding for your feet.
►A wool rich carpet will be able to sustain the wear and tear.
►It is also pet-friendly, and you do not have to worry about them or babies getting hurt while crawling up and down the surface.
►Due to their high durability and resilient power, they are also known to be nature-friendly, unlike other artificial fiber carpets.

Cons
►Wool is costlier than other artificially made fibers
►Many claim that it is difficult to clean wool carpets. However, with proper maintenance, cleaning them is not a herculean task.

  • Nylon
Pros
►Nylon carpets can sustain the high tension and the frequent scratching that it is subject to.
►They are easier to maintain than woolen carpets.
►These are obviously cheaper than woolen carpets and also can resist stains.

Cons
►Nylon is prone to fading from bleach.
►They are costlier than other artificial fibers.
►They are not nature-friendly like wool.

  • Polyester
Pros
►These are cheaper than nylon carpets,
►They're available in brighter colors than the nylon carpets
►They are highly stain resistant to bleaching and fading, since they're solution-dyed.

Cons
►They are less durable than nylon carpets. Of course, with technology, the carpet manufacturers state that the difference between nylon and polyester carpets is shrinking continuously.
►They're not resistant to oil-stains
►They're still not to be considered viable for a high traffic area, since they wear off faster.

  • Natural Fibers
Pros
►Natural fibers like 'sisal' and 'coir', are hard-wearing fibers that are beneficial for your stairs.
►Sisal does not need any coloring, is environment-friendly, and does not show stains easily.
►Coir is made from coconut husk, and similar to sisal, has a nice rustic look, and is nature-friendly.

Cons
►However, the feel is coarse, and it is not useful in water-prone areas.
►However, both cannot be used outdoors, in the kitchen and bathrooms since they cannot survive humidity.
►On the other hand, jute is not suitable for heavy traffic areas like the stairs, where it will be subject to intense wear.
  • Verdict
Durability
As far as durability is concerned, wool carpets are the best, since they can last for years with the right kind of maintenance. However, you can also opt for nylon carpets if you don't want to spend much on your carpet. Though polyester has improved immensely, in comparison with nylon, it is not recommended for high traffic stairs. Sisal and coir, though durable, suffer from limitations of not being waterproof.

Nature-friendly
If you do not wish to opt for synthetic fibers, you can choose from wool or natural fibers. A reiteration, though, sisal and coir carpets are not recommended for a house with little toddlers since their feel is coarse.

Installation

The carpet should stick tight to the surface, else the carpet may slip and cause the user to slip too. You can consider installing a carpet with adhesives. However, cleaning becomes a problem in this case. As per 'The Carpet and Rug Institute' (CRI), while installing any carpet, you have to make sure that you adhere to 'CRI Carpet Installation Standard', which contains the guidelines for installing a carpet on stairs. Take help in measuring the carpet length for your staircase. Stair-runners can be a better option for stairs, since they can be easily installed with the help of rods.

Choosing a carpet for high-traffic stairs must be based on durability, where wool and nylon carpets score the best. You can have different landing styles depending upon the structure of your stairs. Make a wise decision after carrying out a little research and a cost-benefit analysis.
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