Carpeted Stairs Enhance Home's Historic Feel

In considering options for the carpeted stairs in her historic McMinnville home, Jennifer Morrow wanted something that felt neutral but also warm, historic and picked up the tones of the wood. As you can see in the image above, she succeeded with her choice.

Other articles documenting this home remodel story include:

>> Cork Flooring Adds Historic Warmth to Home Remodel

>> Refinished Wood Floors Bring New Life to Historic Home

>> How a Flooring Remodel Transformed an Historic McMinnville, Oregon Home

Here are details and before & after images so you can see for yourself how much the newly carpeted stairs enhance the warm feel of this historic home.

Selecting the Right Carpet Style for these Stairs

The main staircase in a house will definitely see a great deal of traffic and the carpeted stairs in this house were no exception. This worn carpet needed to be replaced badly, not only because of heavy traffic, but also thanks to a fierce office cat that would lie sideways at the bottom of the stairs. Over time, the cat scratched and shredded the edge of that last step!

Jennifer was looking for a durable yet beautiful solution for her stairs. Carpet made with wool is a great choice for stairs as it’s the most resilient fiber plus it’s fire resistant. Similarly, carpet made with nylon fiber holds up well and doesn’t show traffic quickly.

Olefins and polyesters are at the bottom of the list because they tend to look and feel more like plastic. They also flatten out faster than wool and most nylon carpets.

>> See Quality carpet, how do you choose?

>> See Five important carpet buying tips

Cut-Loop Nylon Carpet

As she considered different carpet styles, Jennifer opted for a cut-loop carpet.

Plush carpets, as Jennifer had discovered, show wear more quickly than looped or cut-loop carpets.

Whereas in a Loop carpet, the carpet yarn on the surface remains looped (in cut pile carpet, the loops are cut), a Cut-loop carpet has a combination of high cut tufts and lower loops in a variety of sculptured patterns. Cut-loop carpets offer good performance but are slightly less durable than loop carpets. Loop carpet has strength and soil hiding capabilities. Furthermore, the slight pattern in this style is more forgiving of soiling and staining since solid colored carpets will show wear faster than patterned carpets.

>> See All About Carpet Styles: Frieze, Berber, Loop, Patterned and More

>> See Questions to Ask When Choosing New Carpet for Your Floors

Cut-Loop Nylon Carpet compared to the old worn carpeted stairs.

Ultimately, Jennifer chose Terra Clay cut loop BCF Nylon carpet from Downs. It felt slightly warmer than the old carpet, and the small darker brown pattern picked up the dark wood tones from the banisters and the woodwork throughout the house.

Be Sure to Check Carpet Samples at Home and on the Stairs

As she described with her other product decisions, having the actual samples to put on the stairs, next to the wood, made a big difference in selecting the right carpet. Jennifer found several good choices she liked. Only when she saw them on the steps did it become obvious which one fit best given the combination of oak strips on the steps and dark wood trim throughout the house.

Bonus Classique Floors + Tile Tip: Be sure to check the carpet color samples you like at home in daylight, and then in lamplight, too. When you do, place the carpet sample on the floor, rather than at eye level or at an angle. Note that carpet colors often look lighter when installed compared to the store sample.

Be Sure to Check Carpet Samples at Home and on the Stairs

What Type of Stairway Carpet Installation?

Carpet can be installed in stairways in one of two types of installations:

  • With the Colonial Wrap method, the carpet is tightly wrapped over the edge of the stair tread and around the nosing (or the front edge) of each step. It is fastened down on the riser for a clean and formal look.
  • With the Waterfall method, the carpet is attached to the edge of the tread, then dropped straight down to meet the back of the next tread—without it being secured to the riser.

The stairs in this historic McMinnville, Oregon home were installed using the colonial wrap method.

As you can see in the image below, each step receives cushion before being carpeted.

What Type of Stairway Carpet Installation? Preparing for a colonial wrap installation.

Carpet Cushion Extends the Life of Your Carpeted Stairs

Critical to any carpet installation, including on stairs, is carpet padding which supports your carpet over its lifetime. It cushions the footsteps of the people walking on the carpet while ensuring that the carpet doesn’t bottom out or flex so much that it eventually starts sagging. The greater the traffic, the denser a pad you will want for your carpet.

Bonus Classique Floors + Tile Tip: Ask for a minimum of eight-pound rebond cushion (carpet padding). This is the foundation for a soft step. Made from partially recycled foam, rebond cushion usually comes from furniture industry scraps. The term “eight-pound” means a one foot square of this cushion weighs eight pounds.

This installation used a Fiber Type carpet cushion.

>> See The Ultimate Guide to Carpet Padding at Classique Floors

Carpeted Stairway Installation Considerations

When you’re installing carpet on stairways, ask yourself the following questions:

  • If your stairs are squeaky, can you work to reduce the squeak once the old carpet is removed?
  • Determine what kind of condition your stairs are in. Do they need repair?
  • Is the wood on the stairs in good enough shape to have it showing or does it need refinishing first?

Stairway turns and landings?

If your stairway includes turns and landings, be aware of the following:

  • Pie shaped steps and landings that change the direction of the staircase will take special thought when considering patterned carpets and installing a stair runner.
  • Stairs with turns will usually have a template created and taken back to the workroom to be sure the carpet runner is cut and bound correctly.

Matching hallway runners?

Oftentimes, as Jennifer opted for in her installation, the hallway adjacent to the carpeted stairs includes a matching runner. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • Will you want a matching runner in the hall adjoining the stairs?
  • How wide of a runner would you like?
  • How much tread do you want showing on each side of the runner? (It’s common to have 3″ to 6″ of wood showing on each side of the runner.)
  • Do you want the edges of the runner bound, serged or bordered with a different carpet?

Now, if you haven’t thought of carpeting your stairs, realize that hardwood stairs can be slippery, especially if you have socks on. Carpeting your stairs means less chance of slipping on the stairs and possibly injuring yourself. Plus, as you can see from the pictures of Jennifer’s staircase, the end result looks beautiful!

The carpet installation process

To ensure a better carpet installation, Classique Floors + Tile asks that the room temperature be at least 68 degrees during the installation process.  The reason is that it’s easier to stretch carpet properly when the room is warm.

Once the work begins, the installer will remove and recycle the old carpet and cushion which goes to a recycling center. Molding and trim usually don’t need removal since the carpet is stretched over the tackstrip and under the wall base. Before that happens, however, the installer prepares the subfloor for installation and then installs the new pad and carpet.

All in all, your installers should be able to complete the installation in a day for a medium size job.

Carpeted Stairway Installation Considerations

The image above shows you the completed stairs and the hallway runner on the first level of the house.

Below you see the opposite view.

Beautiful carpeted hallway

Are you ready for carpeted stairs in your home?

How might you transform your home with carpeted stairs?

We invite you to visit our Portland, Oregon showroom where one of our Classique Floors + Tile project consultants will guide you through everything from initial estimate to product selection to final installation, as we did with Jennifer.

You’ll be delighted, we promise!

Thanks for reading,


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