Carpeting Your Stairs: Choosing And Laying The Right Carpet

Stair carpeting can be bought in a standard width of 690mm, and laid centrally on the stairway with the exposed wood on either side protected with paints or varnishing. Fitted carpeting, laid the full width of the stairs, is more difficult to fit and should be left to an experienced carpet layer.

Stair carpet is subject to heavy wear, so choose a good quality pile carpet. Avoid cord, needle felt and sisal which, although hard-wearing, do not grip the feet and could be slippery.

Estimating length

First measure from the front to the back of one tread and multiply by the number of treads. On a curving staircase, or a spiral staircase, take the widest measurement. If the stairs turn a corner on a half landing measure its length and add it to the total, also the length of the upstairs landing if you want the carpet to run to the far end.

Now measure the height of a riser, the vertical part of a stair, and multiply that figure by the number of risers. Add this total to the one you already have to find the length you need to carpet the stairs. It is advisable to move the carpet from time to time to even out wear – to allow for this, add the depth of the bottom tread and the height of the bottom riser.

In addition to the carpet and underlay pads, you will also need carpet adhesive and metal stair grippers – angled strips with projecting teeth that grip the carpet backing. The length of the grippers should be the same as the width of the carpet, and you will need one for each tread.

Preparing the stairs

If you have removed old carpet, check the condition of the woodwork. Remove old nails, old grippers and any patches of adhesive. Brush the stairs thoroughly.

Put a pad centrally on the first tread down from the top landing, with one edge against the riser and the other overhanging the front of the tread. Place a gripper in the angle between the tread and the riser and nail it to the riser. To avoid hitting the teeth of the gripper, use a small hammer to drive the nails partly home, then finish off using a nail punch. Fit grippers and pads to all the stairs except the bottom one, and do not fit a gripper where the bottom riser meets the floor.

Laying the carpet

Unroll the carpet and run your hand over it; it will wear better if the direction which feels smooth runs from the top of the stairs to the bottom. Re-roll it so that the decorative side is inwards.

Start at the bottom of the stairs. Unroll a little of the carpet and if the end is starting to fray spread a little adhesive on it, taking care not to get any on the decorative side. Lay the carpet working from the bottom tread up, doubling back on the first tread.

Carpeting a curved staircase

Use wooden gripper strips, nailing one to the tread and one to the riser. Cut the underlay pads to the shape of each tread and tack them in place, butted against the gripper on the tread. Lay the carpet from the bottom , folding it on the inside curve.

Using stair rods

For a more decorative effect, stair rods can be used instead of grippers. The method of laying is the same, except that the pads must be held in place with tacks. Make sure that the clips for the rods are close against the carpet edges, to prevent sideways movement.

Carpet landing

On a half landing, where the stairs make a 90 degree turn, treat each set of stairs as a separate flight, using 2 lengths of carpet. Lay the first length on the lower flight and continue it across the landing to the wall. Turn the end under and tack it down. Butt the next length to it at right angles, with its end folded under and tacked.

If the staircase makes a dog-leg (180 degrees) turn, there may be a wide landing to be covered with a separate strip pf carpet laid at right angles to the two flights of stairs. Carry both stair carpets to what will be the far edge of the landing carpet, cut them off and tack them in place without underlay. You may also consider hiring the best carpet cleaning company to help you clean your carpet in the most quality and effective way.

News Reporter
Janice Morgan is the head writer at Gonzagala. She loves writing as much as she loves her seventeen cats! Her articles on nature are well appreciated.