It can be difficult to decide which type of flooring for your stairs will provide functionality, style and safety. Wood stairs can provide a modern and sleek look to a home, while carpeted stairs can add warmth and texture while helping with noise reduction and fall prevention. If it’s too difficult to choose between the two, many homeowners compromise by installing a carpet runner that covers only a portion of the wood stairs.
Pros and Cons of Carpeted Stairs
Carpeted stairs provide traction, which can prevent slips and falls for both people and pets. In fact, The National Safety Council reports 12,000 deaths a year in the U.S. just from stair falls, so carpet is important to consider, especially if you have children or seniors in the home.
Expense and Effort
Installing carpet generally requires a professional’s help due to the required skill it takes to fold the carpet along each edge for a seamless finish. Even with installation costs, carpet tends to be significantly less expensive than hardwood.
Consider the other floor finishes you have in your home. If you already have laminate or hardwood upstairs and downstairs, carpeted stairs may look outdated and out of place. For homes with carpeting throughout, carpet stairs will provide the most cohesive look.
The look of the stairs also plays a part in which material you choose. For stairs that change width from top to bottom, full carpet is a good choice as opposed to a carpet runner, which may need to be custom-fit.
Consider the condition of your stairs. If you have original hardwood underneath, you may choose to refinish them instead of purchasing and installing carpet.
Carpet is one of the best building materials when it comes to absorbing noise. Consider what would be best in your home. If you listen to loud music or have children, pets and frequent guests, an additional noise barrier may be ideal.
Carpet won’t last as long as hardwood, and it requires frequent deep cleaning with a carpet cleaner. If you have several pets or leave your shoes on throughout your home, carpet may get dingy and require additional cleaning.
Keep in mind that carpet is not good for damp areas. If you are considering carpeting for stairs leading to the basement, make sure your home isn’t at risk for flooding.
Pros and Cons of Wood Stairs
Wood stairs tend to be slippery, meaning there’s a greater chance of falling. Keep in mind that children and seniors are at a higher fall risk and there won’t be a soft landing like carpet would provide.
If you choose wood stairs for your home, be sure functional handrails are installed according to local code. By using color contrasts on the handrails, riser and treads, you can also increase safety by adding visibility.
Adding soft lighting underneath each individual stair adds safety and a fun look.
Expense and Effort
If you have original hardwood flooring on your stairs, refinishing them can be fairly simple and inexpensive for the average homeowner. If you have to purchase hardwood flooring for installation, keep in mind that wood is generally twice as expensive as carpet. In most cases, professional installation is also required.
If you have carpet throughout your home, wood stairs may look out of place. In homes with hardwood at one end of the stairs and carpet at the other end, either hardwood or carpet stairs would work as an effective transition between the two.
The condition of your stairs may point you in the direction of which flooring material you should choose. Is there high traffic? Do you have pets that could scratch the brand new hardwood floors?
Hardwood floors can be creaky and spread noise vibrations. It’s possible to decrease the squeakiness of wood flooring, but it may require additional work and expense.
Wood floors are generally easy to clean and care for. Although they can fade, splinter, or break, hardwood floors don’t collect as much dust and allergens as carpet floors. Wood flooring lasts longer than carpet and can be cleaned by using a mop once a week.
Carpet Stair Runner
Installing a carpet runner is a good compromise between carpet and wood stairs. Along with functionality and safety, carpet runners also offer versatility. Whether you like bold or neutral, carpet runners come in a variety of options to suit your personal style.
While stair runners can help with safety issues, it’s important to find a carpet runner that extends out far enough to the edge of the stair to minimize tripping, yet still shows a few inches of hardwood flooring.