What You Need to Know When Carpeting Your Stairs

by Editor on September 25, 2013


Installing carpet on your stairs can make them more attractive and easier to walk on. However, carpeting the stairs is trickier than installing carpet on your floor; there are a lot of things to consider. Read on for suggestions on choosing the right design, measuring the right amount, attaching the carpet and having it cleaned.

How to Choose the Right Design

When you are choosing a design for a carpet intended for your stairs, remember the design will look different from when it is on the floor. From the base of the stairs, you will be looking up at the pattern in a long vertical orientation. Choose a carpet pattern that will work well like this. Some possible patterns are vertical stripes or patterns with small and subtle texture.

If you have carpeting with a visually complex pattern, such as plaid or checkerboard, this may make it difficult for someone with vision problems to see the distinction between each step. If you think this may be a problem for someone who lives in your home or visits it often, you may want to consider something simpler.

Measure the Right Amount

How do you measure the correct amount of carpet for your stairs? When you are measuring the carpet for a standard room, you can simply multiply the length by the width. This formula, however, doesn’t work with stairs.

Measuring carpet for stairs is more complicated. You need to take into account the vertical and horizontal surface area of every step on the staircase. Measure the “tread,” which is the surface you place your feet on. You’ll need to measure its depth and width.

The next step is to measure the vertical portion of the stairs connecting the two horizontal portions. When you’ve done this, add together the measurements of the vertical and horizontal parts of the step. This way, you can obtain each stair’s area. If all of the stairs are the same size, multiply this by the number of stairs.

When you are ordering your carpet, add a few inches onto this measurement so you will have room for cutting, waste and padding.

Tips for Attaching Your Carpet

Once you’ve ordered your carpet, the next step is to attach it to the stairs. There are two ways you can accomplish this.

  • Cap-and-band method. This method is usually used by professionals due to the fact that it is more complicated and labor-intensive. To install your carpet this way, use a small piece of carpet for each tread and riser. Wrap it around the stair and hold it in place with an electric stapler.
  • Waterfall method. This method uses one big piece of carpet to cover the stairs. It flows down like a waterfall from one step to the next; earning this method its name. Tack down the carpet along the tread’s rear edge.

Tips for Cleaning Carpet on Stairs

The carpet on your stairs will need to be regularly cleaned, as this is a very high-traffic area. You can use a stiff broom to brush off the largest pieces of debris from the stairs. Then, use your vacuum to remove the dirt stuck to the carpet fibers. Vacuum one step at a time and start from the top, working your way down to the bottom.

Brushing and vacuuming your carpet will work well for day-to-day cleaning, but occasionally you should have your carpet deep cleaned. This is the only way you will truly get rid of the dirt and grime that has been ground into your stairs’ carpet by people walking up and down it.

Installing and maintaining the carpet on your stairs can be complicated, but with the right techniques, you can create a beautiful and stylish covering that will last your home for years.

About the Author

Phil Kearny lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and works with COIT Cleaning. To find out more about COIT’s carpet cleaning services, visit www.coit.com.

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