Should I Should Choose Wood or Carpet Flooring For Stairs?

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While choosing materials for your home’s floor can be fairly straightforward, stairs can be a little more difficult. Do you use the same flooring as the rest of the house? Do you choose safety over appearance? What about expense? If you don’t know whether you should choose wood or carpet flooring for your stairs, our guide can help you decide.

Wood Flooring For Stairs

Safety

While wood flooring on your stairs can provide a sleek and modern feel to your home, they can also be dangerous. Wood stairs can be slippery, and there’s not much cushion if a fall were to happen. If you have children, seniors or sleepwalkers in your home, wood stairs may not be the best choice in terms of safety.

If you decide that wood stairs are a must-have for your home, but you’re concerned about safety, there is a way to compromise. Stair treads, which are non-slip pads installed on your wood stairs, can provide style, safety and functionality. Available in many different colors and materials, you’re sure to find something you like. Most stair treads have a non-slip backing, so you simply lay them on the wood stair to install them. For added traction, you can place adhesive tape on the bottom of the stair tread, ensuring it will stay in place.

Cleaning

Wood flooring provides a low-maintenance option for your home. Hardwood floors don’t collect as much dust or allergens as carpet does, and cleaning mostly involves sweeping and mopping.

Wear and Tear

If you have pets that could scratch your hardwood stairs, you may want to consider carpet instead. In addition, pets could fall or be hesitant to go up or down the stairs due to slipping.

Sound

Wood stairs don’t provide much sound absorption. You may hear creaking or stomping as others walk up and down the stairs.

Cost

If you have original hardwood flooring on your stairs, they may be in good enough condition to refinish. This could help save on expense. A general rule of thumb is that hardwood generally costs twice as much as carpet, so take that into consideration before you make a decision.

Appearance and Flow

If you want hardwood stairs while the rest of your home is carpeted, be sure to consider the appearance and flow of the home. Look at photos to get inspiration before you decide on a different flooring option for your stairs; this will ensure you won’t be disappointed with the outcome.

Carpet Flooring For Stairs

Safety

Having carpet on the stairs doesn’t necessarily prevent falls, but it helps to provide traction compared to hardwood. Hard surfaces are slippery, and can easily lead to a fall. In addition, should a fall ever occur, carpet offers a much softer landing spot than wood flooring which could help reduce the likelihood of injury.

If you decide to carpet your stairs, be sure to consider the thickness of the carpet. Carpet that is too thick can be a tripping hazard, so be sure to choose a low-pile carpet if safety is one of your main concerns.

Cleaning

If you install new carpet, consider using low-pile carpeting, which is easier to clean than high-pile carpeting. Since carpet can hold dust, allergens and dead skin cells, the use of a high quality vacuum on carpeted stairs is important. High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuums have special filters that reduce dust emissions from the vacuum exhaust, keeping your home as clean as it can be. They also have a motor powerful enough to provide good suction.

Stains are inevitable with carpeting, and it’s something to take into consideration before you make your decision on flooring for your stairs. If you have pets or children, you may have to spot clean stains on a regular basis.

Steam cleaning your carpet should be done every few months. However, steam cleaning may leave moisture behind that could lead to mildew in the carpet or carpet padding. When steam cleaning or shampooing carpet, you will need to use fans and open windows if it is a low-humidity day. This will help to fully dry the carpet. On a high humidity days, you will need to run an air conditioner or a dehumidifier.

Wear and Tear

High traffic in your home, as well as pets or children, can cause wear and tear on carpeting. If you decide to choose carpet for your stairs, take the color and texture into consideration before your purchase. Low and densely woven fibers are known for repelling dirt and debris much more efficiently than shag carpet, and low-pile carpet ensures that you won’t notice matting in high traffic areas.

Pick a carpet color that can stand up to daily use. Avoid whites, grays and other lighter colors, as they’ll draw attention to stains and dirt. Look for darker colored carpets, as missteps won’t be as visible.

Sound

Carpet serves as a great insulator against sound; in fact, carpet absorbs sounds up to ten times better than hard flooring. By creating a quiet environment, carpet considerably enhances the feeling of well-being.

Cost

Although carpet costs less than hardwood, a professional installer is almost always necessary due to the special tools needed for the job. While carpet does need to be replaced every few years, the life of the material can be greatly extended by a good maintenance routine. This makes the long-term cost of carpet comparable to certain types of hardwood flooring.

Appearance and Flow

If you want a cohesive look in your home, consider the other types of flooring you have. For homes with carpeting, carpet stairs will flow better. For homes with wood floors, a carpeted staircase can feel outdated and out of place.

When deciding on carpet or wood for your stairs, there are several factors to take into consideration. What works for your home and family may not work for someone else, but that is what makes your home unique and an extension of your personal style.

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