Choosing flooring for a home can be overwhelming because there are a lot of factors to consider. Each room or area may have its own attributes to take into consideration. For example, no one wants carpet in the kitchen and hardwood is typically not a great bathroom choice. But, what about the staircase? Stairs are unique in regard to home flooring for a few reasons:
- Safety – they are obviously more dangerous than flat surfaces in regard to falls. If you have small kids or an elderly loved one in the home then this is particularly important to consider.
- Staining – stairs tend to be very high-traffic areas in homes and are sometimes used as “dumping grounds” for backpacks, groceries, etc. This can cause messes and stains. Flooring that can take a bit of foot traffic is going to be your best bet.
- Noise – again, being high-traffic, stairs can get noisy. If you have pets and/or kids, you know exactly what we mean.
For those reasons, you should take a bit of extra time exploring your stair flooring options. There are many, many choices and some are good for some situations while not great for others. This may be due to the type of home, the number of people living in the house, or other factors. So, let’s talk about stairwell flooring, shall we?
Is Tile The Right Flooring For My Stairs?
Tile is durable and low maintenance but it is also rigid. In addition, it is cold on the feet and can be noisy. Stairs are high traffic areas so noisiness can be a real issue. Rather than picking a basic ceramic tile, try to use tiles that are shiny and give you a great deal of extra reflection in the room. But, if you do put tile on your stairs, be sure to choose something that is not too smoothly glazed as this can cause slips. Tile comes in a wide variety of shapes, colors, types and qualities. It can also be laid in various ways to create really interesting patterns.
If you live in a part of the world where people come in and out from the water or beach often, then tile flooring across the whole house may make sense. However, if you live in a cold-weather climate, you may find your feet always freezing. In addition, if you have small kids, stairs can be stressful enough. Making them tile may add an element of risk that is just not worth it to you at this stage of your life.
Summary: When it comes to tile, durability is a pro but chilliness is a con.
What About Hardwood Flooring?
To craft an elegant look without sacrificing durability, hardwoods might make sense. You can create interesting designs with contrasting stains or types of wood. You can easily attach safety strips to wood stairs to help reduce slips. Pick dark hardwood or light hardwood or a mixture of both for a high-design effect. Hardwood is easy to clean but, as most of us know, can be slippery when wearing socks.
Hardwood flooring is a great choice for a luxurious home and looks fabulous in pretty much any setting. However, it is not cheap. If you think of it as an investment and consider that it is very long-lasting then it really is not exorbitantly expensive but it might still be out of reach of some budgets.
If you do decide to install a hardwood surface, consider adding a carpet runner that coordinates with the rest of the house and ties the aesthetic together. Besides looking nice, the runner will help to reduce slips and increase safety. We’ll talk more about them in the next section.
Summary: Hardwoods are elegant and a carpet runner will help you avoid slips.
Let’s Talk About Carpet Flooring
Carpeting is the safest stairway choice but it is prone to discoloration and its lifespan varies according to its fiber type and daily foot traffic. For example, densely woven, low-profile wool carpets withstand the rigors of high-traffic stairways the best. As mentioned above, you can also put a carpet runner on a wood staircase. Carpet runners flow down the entire length of the staircase and you also have many different types of carpeting to choose from.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a runner:
- Width: For stairs that are 3′ wide, a 27″ runner width allows for excellent coverage but is not so wide that it overwhelms the stairs.
- Patterns: Carpet runners are available in a limitless variety of colors and designs but some don’t work for stairs. Certain patterns are more effective on long, flat surfaces (like a hallway) but don’t look nearly as lovely folded and bent over the stairs. If you have a winding staircase or a custom shaped stairwell, then be very careful about patterns.
- Stair treads and decorative rods: If you want just the area where you step covered with carpet, then you can cover just that (called the treads). You can also choose to install decorative rods at the top and bottom of the staircase that look as though they are holding the runner in place. (They will not be. The carpet will be held down by tacks, glue, etc. The rods are purely ornamental and pretty.)
Summary: Carpeting is soft, warm, quiet and safe – but it stains.
Are Vinyl And Laminate Options?
Of course, you are probably wondering by now if there are any cheaper options – such as vinyl or laminate – that are suitable for staircases. The truth is that these materials can be used on stairs but are not commonly used for that purpose.
For one thing, vinyl is susceptible to chemical stains when it comes in contact with rubber. Therefore, rubber shoe heels can cause a reaction in the material that can discolor it forever. Since stairs are a very high-traffic area, this can be problematic. At times, vinyl flooring will yellow with age if it is in direct sunlight and dirt can get stuck beneath the wax layer. Additionally, vinyl flooring cannot be refinished so if these things occur, you will need new floors.
What about laminate, you ask? While laminate is a budget-friendly choice, laminate (like vinyl) cannot be refinished in the future. Unfortunately, laminate can be vulnerable to moisture damage. The area in which you live is worth considering here. If you will be tracking in snow or rainwater up your stairs often, then laminate is probably not the way to go. It is also worth mentioning that, over the years, laminate flooring has been known to be very slippery. Modern manufacturers have been developing slip-resistant wear layers so be sure to discuss those with your Motor City Carpet representative.
Summary: Vinyl and Laminate flooring are not out of the question for stairs.
How In The World Do I Choose The Ideal Flooring For Stairs In My Home?
This is not a choice that you should really try and make on your own. If you are a certified contractor, then go for it. But, if you are the average person, you should really enlist the guidance of a professional with experience in flooring. There are just so many factors to consider from your home’s residents to your décor to the climate of the town you live in and much more. Here at Motor City Carpet, our customer service representatives have the experience and the know-how to help. Contact us today for any questions you may have or for your free in-home estimate!
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Royal Oak, MI 48067
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