Tips for Carpeting Stairs

Carpeting stairs is a DIY task that many of us get nervous about even though we may have successfully carpeted rooms before. Although there are quite hard and fast rules that you need to follow to achieve a professional finish, it's not difficult to carpet your stairs yourself. Many DIY enthusiasts worry about damaging expensive material when carpeting stairs but this challenging job is easy to master.

Carpet Type and Color

A beautiful pale apricot deep pile carpet may look like a dream in the showroom but it won't do the best job on your stairs unless you rarely use them. Stairs are usually a high traffic area so opt for close-woven carpets. Deeper piles tend to get tread-worn fairly quickly, leaving squashed areas on the carpet which make them unsightly. Lighter carpet shades can discolor quickly through wear and tear.


Underlay can be just as important as the carpet itself, especially when it comes to stairs. Choose a heavy duty underlay that is designed for high traffic areas. Underlay is not only made to cushion the carpet and protect it from the wear against the hard wood of the stairs but it is also a great sound insulator. The better quality you opt for, the less noisy it will seem when people are running up and down the stairs.

Preparing Stairs for Recarpeting

It's a good idea to check each tread of the stairs for any overlooked nails. This is simple to do and can be achieved by running a metal tool, like a hammer or scraper, along the wood of the stairs. This way, you'll pick up any old nails that you haven't already spotted. Remove them with a claw hammer so that your underlay and carpet will sit on a snag-free surface.

Calculating the Amount of Carpet You Need

Measure the width of the stairs as well as the size of the tread and the riser. Because you will need excess carpet for tucking in and folding down, it's important to calculate the extra measurements accurately. Add a further 3 inches for every riser and every tread.

Fitting Carpet Snugly To Each Tread

Use a knee kicker to ensure that carpet pieces are set flush to the tread. It's surprising how much slack there can be and its important to avoid this as loose fitting carpet, particularly on stairs, can be extremely dangerous. Work from the top step down to the bottom one to remove all slack areas.

Stapling Carpet Edges

Use a staple gun loaded with heavy duty staples to attach carpet edges to the underside of the stair lip. These won't show as the next fitted piece of carpet will lay over the top of them. Staples will help to keep each tread secure. Always think of each stair and riser as a job on it's own and never try to carpet a flight of stairs with one complete length of carpet. It may seem like a quick way to do the job but it is ineffectual and will leave your stairway in a dangerous condition. A single length of carpet is only practical if the carpet is of the stair runner variety and held in place by rods.