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Choosing a carpet for your stairs

Carpeting a staircase needs a little more consideration than the other rooms or areas of the house. Because the stairs get the heaviest footfall, the carpet needs to be hard-wearing enough to stand up to such wear and tear. It should be easy to clean and resistant to dirt and other stains. And for safety, it can’t be too thick that it causes you to trip on your way down.

You also want it to look good!

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as going with the same carpet you used throughout the rest of your home. Below, we tell you everything you need to bear in mind when choosing a carpet for your stairs.

A carpet for heavy traffic

Whatever carpet you choose for your stairs, know that it’ll wear out more quickly than the carpets in all your other rooms. Your staircase is a fairly small, narrow space that you and the people you live with are treading several times a day, every day, with more heavy-footed steps than when you’re walking on a flat floor.

So the carpet needs to be durable, ideally the most durable one you can afford. It might feel like a big outlay at first, but it’ll save you money in the long run as you won’t need to replace the carpet as often, if at all.

Handily, household carpets in the UK are graded according to their durability:

  • Light domestic – suitable for bedrooms
  • Medium domestic – suitable for dining rooms
  • General domestic – suitable for living rooms
  • Heavy domestic – suitable for stairs and hallways
  • Extra heavy domestic – suitable for stairs, hallways and utility rooms

Any carpet graded ‘heavy domestic’ or ‘extra heavy domestic’ will be durable enough for your stairs.

What makes a durable carpet

Thickness

This is one aspect of durability. A carpet’s thickness is in its pile, and how the fabric fibres have been looped, twisted or cut. But with carpets, thickness doesn’t always equal strength – in fact, it’s often the case that the shorter the pile height, the more durable the carpet.

Loop pile carpets (such as Berber carpets) are very hard-wearing and will withstand a lot of footfall without flattening. However, they might not be the best choice if you have pets with long claws, as these can catch in the loops and pull at the fabric.

Twist pile carpets also tend to be extremely durable because of how the fabric is cut and tightly twisted. A popular choice of carpet, they can cope with heavy traffic and retain their shape at the same time.

Take care though: laying too thick a carpet means you increase the chances of you losing your footing when descending the stairs.


Resistance to dirt, stains and other grime

You might enforce a ‘shoes off’ policy at home to help protect your carpet, but it’ll still accumulate dirt and other grime through everyday use. It’s even claimed that walking on the carpet barefoot can soil it over time, as our skin releases sweat that then attracts dust and other traces of dirt. If you have pets, there are also animal hairs to think about.

A ‘heathered’ twist pile carpet is an ideal choice for a stair carpet that does an effective job of hiding marks, dust or pet hair. At the same time, you should avoid white or light-coloured carpets and go for something darker (though a black or really dark colour might serve to accentuate a staircase’s lack of natural light). And consider wearing socks or slippers!

Choice of materials

When it comes to carpeting the stairs, you’re not so much looking for luxury as something hard-wearing that’s going to last. The thick, soft carpet you love to step on to as you climb out of bed won’t measure up here.

For many years, wool carpets were seen as the best available, but their man-made fibre counterparts have improved to the extent that they’re now considered equal. Wool is a good (and often expensive) choice for stairs as its fibres repel stains and dirt and don’t flatten easily. A man-made fabric such as polypropylene is a similarly effective – and more affordable – option, but will tend to flatten unless it has a shorter pile.

A carpet with a combination of wool and nylon is more durable and less likely to flatten, while a mixture of wool and polypropylene will be easy to clean and retain its appearance.

Three recommendations for stair carpets

Enchantment Twist Pile Carpet

  • Hard-wearing, ideal for high‑traffic areas.
  • Resilient to wear and can be bleach-cleaned for quick and easy maintenance.
  • Deep pile that offers comfort and luxury while withstanding heavy footfall.
  • Features the Stain Defence solution, which tackles the toughest of household spills with ease.
  • 100% polypropylene, meaning it’s durable and long-lasting, perfect for the family home.

£19.99 m2

Temple Heathers Deep Pile Saxony Carpet

  • Hard-wearing, balancing robustness with style.
  • 100% bleach cleanable.
  • Resistant to most stains including tea, coffee, wine and even oil, ink and crayon.
  • Resilient to constant footfall, yet soft to touch.
  • 100% polypropylene, meaning it’s durable and long-lasting, perfect for the family home.

£25.98 m2

Zaria Saxony Pile Carpet

  • Hard-wearing, balancing robustness with style.
  • 100% bleach cleanable.
  • Resistant to most stains.
  • Resilient to heavy footfall.
  • 100% polypropylene, meaning it’s durable and long-lasting, perfect for the family home.

£9.99 m2

Three recommendations for stair carpets

Enchantment Twist Pile Carpet

  • Hard-wearing, ideal for high‑traffic areas.
  • Resilient to wear and can be bleach-cleaned for quick and easy maintenance.
  • Deep pile that offers comfort and luxury while withstanding heavy footfall.
  • Features the Stain Defence solution, which tackles the toughest of household spills with ease.
  • 100% polypropylene, meaning it’s durable and long-lasting, perfect for the family home.

£19.99 m2

Temple Heathers Deep Pile Saxony Carpet

  • Hard-wearing, balancing robustness with style.
  • 100% bleach cleanable.
  • Resistant to most stains including tea, coffee, wine and even oil, ink and crayon.
  • Resilient to constant footfall, yet soft to touch.
  • 100% polypropylene, meaning it’s durable and long-lasting, perfect for the family home.

£25.98 m2

Zaria Saxony Pile Carpet

  • Hard-wearing, balancing robustness with style.
  • 100% bleach cleanable.
  • Resistant to most stains.
  • Resilient to heavy footfall.
  • 100% polypropylene, meaning it’s durable and long-lasting, perfect for the family home.

£9.99 m2

For more of our stair carpet recommendations, click here.

Design ideas for stair carpets

Stripes for a roomier-looking home

As well as drawing attention, striped carpets help create the illusion of size, whether it’s vertical stripes for a longer staircase or horizontal stripes for a wider set of stairs.

Striped carpets are also handy for stain resistance, as they mask the wear and tear that comes with heavy traffic and footprints from outdoors.

Neutral colours for clean minimalism

Sometimes regarded as plain and bland, neutral-coloured carpets can actually make staircases and hallways look warm and welcoming when used in the right way.

Particularly complementary to white and light-coloured walls, these carpets help open out small, narrow spaces and give your home a calm, modern, minimalist look.

Mid-tones for hiding wear and tear

If you have children and pets, a carpet that hides the everyday mess that comes with them running around is essential. Mid-tone greys, browns or greens—or blends of the two—will disguise wear and tear and save you from having to vacuum the carpet every five minutes.

Read our comprehensive guide to carpet colours and how to make the best use of them.

Design ideas for stair carpets

Stripes for a roomier-looking home

As well as drawing attention, striped carpets help create the illusion of size, whether it’s vertical stripes for a longer staircase or horizontal stripes for a wider set of stairs.

Striped carpets are also handy for stain resistance, as they mask the wear and tear that comes with heavy traffic and footprints from outdoors.

Neutral colours for clean minimalism

Sometimes regarded as plain and bland, neutral-coloured carpets can actually make staircases and hallways look warm and welcoming when used in the right way.

Particularly complementary to white and light-coloured walls, these carpets help open out small, narrow spaces and give your home a calm, modern, minimalist look.

Mid-tones for hiding wear and tear

If you have children and pets, a carpet that hides the everyday mess that comes with them running around is essential. Mid-tone greys, browns or greens—or blends of the two—will disguise wear and tear and save you from having to vacuum the carpet every five minutes.

Read our comprehensive guide to carpet colours and how to make the best use of them.

What you can expect to pay

Having your staircase carpeted is trickier than in other rooms of the house, and so many carpet sellers will add a significant charge to your bill for this service. Include the price of the carpet (and associated extras such as underlay) and the full cost can soon spiral.

When you buy a stair carpet from United Carpets & Beds, we make it much easier on your budget, at every stage of the process. Here’s how:

Measurements and estimates

Once you’ve chosen a carpet for your stairs, contact us for a free quote. Our expert estimators will visit your home to do some measurements and make suggestions and recommendations on how best to install the carpet. This service is completely free of charge.

How to measure a carpet for stairs

If you’d rather have a go at the measurements yourself, follow these simple instructions. You’ll need a tape measure and something to note down the measurements with.

Step 1 – Measuring stair length

  1. Pull the tape measure to the edge of the tread, check the measurement and then add the rise measurement. (The tread is the surface you stand on and the rise is the vertical area.) This total measurement will be the length of one stair.
  2. If the length of the tread is 15cm and the length of the rise is 15cm, the length measurement for one step would be 30cm. (This is measuring a step with no nose, or overhang. If you have a step with overhang, make sure to include this in your measurements.)

  3. Multiply your stair measurement by the number of stairs you have (if they’re all the same size), to get the total length of carpet needed.
  4. The average household staircase has 12 steps. For example, 30cm x 12 = 360cm.

    Add a minimum of 10cm (4 inches) to the total length to allow for any waste. Taking this into account, the total length would be 370cm.

  5. If you have stairs of different sizes, take these measurements and include them in the total length.

Step 2 – Measuring stair width

  1. Measure the width of one stair tread, from wall to the rails. Round your measurement up to the nearest inch or centimetre to allow for waste.
  2. Add a minimum of 5cm (2 inches) to the total width, again to allow for waste.
  3. If all your stairs are the same width, you only need to measure one.

Step 3 – Additional measurements

  1. Make sure to measure landings, doorways and alcoves and add these measurements to your order.
  2. If you have irregularly shaped stairs (such as winding staircases), measure them at their widest points.
  3. For patterned or striped carpets on irregularly shaped staircases, you may have to seek advice on a different method for measuring, to make sure the pattern or stripes of the carpet will flow seamlessly down your staircase.

Fitting

Buy the same size of Airstep underlay with your stair carpet and we won’t charge you a penny more than our stair surcharge of £20.

If you choose not to buy underlay, we ask a fitting fee of £2 per square metre of carpet (minimum £30), plus the stair surcharge of £20.

Delivery

If you qualify for our fitting offer (see above), we’ll also deliver your carpet free of charge. In all other cases, it’ll be £15—although this is only a guide and there may be some difference depending on your location.

Further resources

Choosing, buying and fitting a new carpet

How to choose your carpet material

Carpets: general FAQs

 

Back to Carpets by room

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