What Is the Best Carpet for Stairs?

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If you’re planning to carpet your stairs, you’re making a wise choice. Not only does carpet provide more safety to this high-traffic area, but it also provides some sound-buffering properties as well. In fact, carpeted floors have been shown to reduce the sound of footsteps by 30 decibels, so they’re definitely a good idea if you want to sound-proof your home. 

While you can easily opt for fuzzy carpeting with soft fibers for low-traffic areas like a bedroom, you need something tougher and more durable for high-traffic areas in your home, such as the stairs. For spaces with lower foot traffic and activity, you can compromise on durability and stain resistance while the same cannot be said for high activity areas. 

Since different areas of your space require different protocols, even if you have different flooring everywhere else, here’s everything you need to know about choosing the best carpet for stairs.

Carpet for Stairs: Considerations

1. Location

When thinking about carpeting your stairs, it’s important to remember that stairs are one of the most high-traffic areas in any space. But this differs from home to home and space to space. 

For example, stairs that lead from the ground floor to the first floor or from the first floor to the second are likely to see a good amount of foot traffic. On the other hand, stairs that lead to an attic or basement are unlikely to see a lot of activity, unless you have regular business in these areas of the house. 

For these reasons, you need to assess your needs before you think of what carpet to get for stairs in your space. If your focus is on durability, different carpet materials would appeal to you as opposed to if your focus is stain resistance or comfort. 

2. Layout

The type of staircase you have in your space is also a deciding factor for how you should put the carpet in. Straight, curved, spiral, landing, no landing, etc. These are all things that should be considered before installing carpet on your stairs.

If your staircase is open on both sides or one side, you’ll need to wrap it lengthwise as well as widthwise down the open side. This can cause the carpet to bend awkwardly across the bends and ridges. Carpet construction is important here. A carpet with a high loop count can help disguise the bends and give the carpeted stairs a neater finish. 

3. Thickness

So how thick does the carpeting on your stairs need to be? Many folks tend to think the thicker the better when it comes to carpet. And while that may work for other areas of the home, stairs are not ideal for extra thick carpeting. 

A super thick layer of carpet on your stairs can actually pose a safety hazard because it can round out the nosing of the steps. The nosing is the front edge of the stairs which helps support your foot as you climb up and down the stairs. When the nosing loses its edge, it can become easier to lose your footing on the stairs, causing falls to occur. 

Also, contrary to popular belief, thick stair carpets don’t always offer maximum durability. Some of the most durable carpets have thinner, flatter fibers. It’s best to look deeper into the specifications of the carpet you’re choosing before making a decision. 

It’s also worth mentioning that thicker carpets are more difficult to work with. If you were thinking of DIY-ing the carpeting on your stairs, you might want to look for carpets with a medium amount of fiber thickness. This is because thicker carpet types make it difficult to neatly wrap them around the railing and nosing of the stairs. 

The recommended carpet pile height for stairs-friendly carpeting is ¾  inches or less. The pile density rating should be at least 8 pounds while the carpet padding height should be around 7/16 inches or less.

4. Soil-resistance

When it comes to stairs, while stain resistance should definitely be a concern, soil resistance needs to be a bigger concern. Since the carpet on your stairs will get stepped on a lot, you’ll need to get a carpet that is soil-resistance. 

The bottom of our feet can leave a residue on the stairs, wearing the carpeting down over time. You can, of course, combat this by wearing socks or slippers. However, if you prefer walking barefoot in your home, you must invest in a soil-resistant carpet. This is especially important if you have pets; their paws are likely to carry dirt and debris and deposit them into the fibers of the carpeting. 

5. Installation

While any style of carpet can work on your stairs, it’s how you put it in that matters. If the carpet is installed properly, the pile direction should run from the top of the stairs to the bottom. 

If it’s installed incorrectly, the pile will run sideways, giving the carpeting an awkward look, since the rows of fibers will be more visible on the stairs. Putting the carpet in according to the right pile direction will ensure that it wears as evenly as possible throughout its tenure

For some carpets, you’re able to see the backing of the carpet as it bends. Since installing carpet on the stairs requires it to bend in places by design, you’ll need to install it in a way that prevents smiling. 

The loops in a carpet run lengthwise, if you’re smiling, that means you’re bending it sideways. There is a right way to bend a carpet so that the backing doesn’t show. An experienced carpenter will be able to do it correctly. 

A proper installation also helps disguise the stitching on the carpet so that it doesn’t show around the nosing and the railing. If you’re doing it yourself, watching a tutorial or consulting someone who’s done it before is advisable. 

The Best Carpet Materials for Stairs

Best Synthetic Carpet for Stairs

Synthetic Nylon 

Nylon is the best synthetic carpet material for stairs. This is because nylon offers the highest durability among synthetic carpets. The fibers are closely knit together, giving you considerable stain and soil resistance. 

Best Natural Carpet for Stairs 

Sisal Carpet 

Sisal is a natural fiber material for carpeting. Sisal carpets are made from agave plants, resulting in firm, patterned stair carpets with close-knit fibers. Since it’s a natural fiber, it’s non-toxic and ideal for asthma or allergy sufferers. Sisal carpets offer the highest durability among natural carpet materials, making them excellent for your stairs. The tight fibers also help fight off soil and residue from depositing and wearing the carpet down. 


What kind of carpeting is best for stairs?

When looking for a carpet for your stairs, look at carpets that offer high durability and soil resistance such as nylon material carpets.

Do I need a special carpet for the stairs?

There is no “special” carpet for the stairs; however, carpets with the following specifications are ideal for stairs: 

  1. Pile height: ½ inches
  2. Carpet pile density rating: 8 pounds
  3. Carpet padding height: 7/16 inches 

What kind of carpet do you use for stairs and landings?

Low pile carpets work best for stairs and landings. 

Is Berber carpet good for stairs?

Berber carpets are good for stairs since they’re made for high-traffic, high-activity areas. 

Carpeting Your Stairs With Intention

We hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. If you’re carpeting your stairs, we’d love to hear about the carpet specs you’re leaning towards and why in the comment section below.

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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