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Stairs: carpet or not?

Our bungalow style home has a carpeted stairway that leads to the carpeted upstairs. The rest of the house (main floor) is hardwood or marble and the carpeted stairs drive us crazy (they are super ugly) and they are very hard to clean.

There is a wooden staircase underneath that needs quite a bit of love but we don't know what to do... any ideas? Should we tear the carpet up and see what we end up with? Should we plan this in phases: paint the stair case, add a runner later?

We would love to hear from any of you, what would you do in this case?



  • Is the staircase enclosed, or open so you can see it? Can you post some photos? That would really help!! :-)
  • We are facing the same dilemma. Our staircase has a filthy beige carpet. The tops of the steps are painted black and the sides are white. I'm thinking of putting on a new runner that is narrower - doesn't cover the whole width of the step. Because I'm clumsy I think some carpet would help keep me from falling down the stairs.
  • Carpeted stairs are always safer than just painted. My mother has a beautiful old Victorian home built in 1901 - the large and steep staircase is painted, and I'm always terrified she is going to fall down the darn thing. She's not old or feeble in the least, but in her late 60s she does not need to break anything.

    Heck - even a 20something needs some grippage on the steps so they don't go flying!!! :-)
  • I second that! We were sure to incorporate a carpet runner in our staircase redo because we have a 14yr old that flies up and down the stairs missing a few of them most of the time!!
  • I completely disagree. I'd remove the carpet and see what I'm working with. If the stairs are oak which is likely given your house, I'd refinish them and seal them with poly. If you're worried about slipping and falling down the stairs, I'd suggest those stair treads that sit just in the center of each step. This past summer I ripped up my carpet and refinished my stairs because my husband slipped and fell all the way down our carpeted staircase in his socked feet.

    Staircase Renovation (7 of 8)

    Refinishing vs. painting was a ton of hardwork but it was well worth it.

    stair refinishing (10 of 10)

    We have a barefoot household and we get good traction on the steps. I plan on getting the treads eventually but there is no sense of urgency.

  • Tear that carpet up! That is what we did in our house. The carpet was old when we moved in, and then with our two dogs running up and down all day, it got even worse and covered in hair. I hate vacuuming stairs, so we just ripped the carpet up. Our house was built in 1998, so I knew there wouldn't be nice wood underneath, but we did it anyway. Now we have painted particleboard stairs, which don't look super pretty, but it is much easier to just sweep off the dog hair and dirt, rather than lugging the vacuum around. Eventually I want to replace the particleboard with oak, but for now, I'm happy with it!
  • I ripped up the disgusting carpet on our stairs to find standard pine steps. Not exactly as lovely as finding perfect oak stairs, but it's something to work with! I plan on staining them all (love the stain + white look, but it would be too much for our space) and adding a simple carpet runner, a look my boyfriend and I both love.

    I prefer a little carpet on stairs for the added traction, and in the case of falling, a little extra padding. I'd rather have rug burn than a broken tail bone.
  • honestly i grew up without carpet on the stairs, and i have 3 steps at my condo that have carpet, and it pisses me off to no end how dirty they get. I cannot wait to replace the stairs and hallway with wood!
  • No carpet - it's SO much easier to clean!
  • i did same project in November! the stairway carpet didn't match the upstairs carpets and was completely stained. I knew whatever was underneath, would be better than the carpet.

    it took about a week (working on them after work and one weekend). the stairs underneath were builders grade soft pine (I think).. we stripped, sanded (and sanded, and sanded, and sand...), conditioned, stained (dark walnut) and used a good poly (3 coats) and ABSOLUTELY LOVE the results. we also painted the trim around it white and ebonized the railings.

    we're a primarily no shoes/socks house, and I haven't had a problem with slipping and neither have my nieces and nephews. there are a few imperfections from too much sanding or weird motions, but I actually love the 'rustic' look I got out of them. I loved the color so much, I had all my hardwoods downstairs re-stained from golden oak to dark walnut!
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  • Flwr37Flwr37 Buffalo, NY
    Rip it off! My heel has slipped on the carpet and sent me tumbling down the stairs twice, since Autumn, yet when I had no carpet on the stairs I never slipped on them. Carpet lulls the brain into believing it's safer, but when wearing socks or slippery shoes or even bare feet on carpet, while carrying laundry and dodging animals, it has only been a recipe for disaster for me, unless you do some homework and can find some with better gripping potential. If you do, please let us know. Plus, it's almost impossible to keep clean, and there's always that never ending battle.
  • If you have little ones or are super clumsy get a runner - if not I would stain them and make them pretty.
  • I say rip it off and either stain or paint them.
  • For ease of cleaning, I much prefer hardwood stairs. I am sure the refinishing would be a lot of work, especially if you aren't sure of the condition of the stairs under the carpet. The photos posted by @pursuitofhappiness above look fantastic! Would you be interested in doing something similar?

    Jane of
  • Dear RebhanRenovation... Carpet would definitely give a luxurious look. But when comes to cleaning I prefer hardwood floor. My maid had a difficult time cleaning the carpets on our stair . It was old and it loosened. Even the professional house cleaning tips was not working out for me. Finally I teared out the carpets and painted the hardwood stairs... It is looking good. I don't have the pictures for now .But I will show the design which inspired me to take this step.
    So go ahead... And if you find a wooden floor do something creative like this....
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