Home Improvement: Hardwood or Carpet on Stairs?

Stairs are tricky customers in the flooring world: they’re difficult to install, a struggle to clean, and are in a high traffic area. Plus, more than any other area in the home, safety is a concern. Then there’s the question of aesthetic; should you match your stairs to the rest of the house? Should there be a contrast? With all this in mind it can be a toughie to decide what flooring is best, posing the age old question…hardwood or carpet?


There’s no denying hardwood is visually impressive, but sometimes looks aren’t everything. The big issue with hardwood stairs is they can be dangerous – they’re slippery and there’s nothing to cushion you if you do fall. If your home has sleepwalkers, children, pets, or seniors, it’s probably best to avoid the hardwood. If your home isn’t host to the aforementioned, you’ll be happy to learn the advantages of hardwood stairs. They’re durable, strong, and have a long lifespan – especially if you maintain them regularly. They’re also easy to clean (just a quick dust and a mop) and hold less dust and allergens than carpet. If you’re concerned about safety but like the look of hardwood, you can purchase stair treads which are easily installed and provide extra grip and cushion.


Carpet is an obvious choice thanks to its many benefits: it quiets sound (particularly advantageous if you have people up and down the stairs regularly), insulates, comes in a variety of styles and materials, is less costly, and of course offers a higher degree of safety and comfort. One big disadvantage of carpet is the wear and tear that happens overtime thanks to its location in the home, so it’s a good idea to invest a little more into your stair carpet. You can get tough, stain resistant materials that will hold the test of time – just remember to regularly vacuum your stairs bi-weekly, steam clean them four times a year, and spot clean regularly to avoid permanent stains working their way into the fibers.