Choosing carpeting for stairs is different that for other areas of your home. Stairs are difficult to clean because of high foot traffic. This traffic requires a carpet that is resistant to stains and dirt. Take into account that stairs leading from a door will have dirt from the outdoors tracked in. Stairs that are set in the interior tend to have dirt tracked in from other areas of the home. Choosing the best carpeting for your situation depends on the location of the stairs and type of foot traffic it receives.
Wool carpeting has many advantages over synthetics. It is naturally stain and water resistant. A carpet made from wool will last up to 20 years with proper care. Carpeting made from wool is usually short and dense, which makes it easy to vacuum. The short fibres make for a carpet safe for walking, as there are no long fibres to cause a tripping hazard. Wool carpeting is fire resistant -- it does not emit toxic fumes when it burns.
There are some disadvantages to wool. Proper cleaning requires that a wool-safe product be used, which means professional cleaning of wool carpets is expensive.
Olefin is a synthetic fibre. Carpeting made from olefin is durable and stain resistant. You have a choice of many carpet lengths. High-traffic areas can be carpeted with a short-looped carpet. Berber carpets are also made of olefin. Both of these styles are good choices for stairways. Olefin carpet comes in many colours and patterns. Commercial carpeting is usually made from olefin.
Olefin is not the ideal choice for indoor entry stairs like those found in split-level homes. It is stain resistant, but as a synthetic fibre, it bonds to petroleum-based stains. Oil, grease and asphalt stains will not come out of an olefin carpet, and ice-melting products will cause olefin carpeting to yellow.
Polyester carpets are stain resistant, durable and affordable. They come in many colours and fibre lengths. Carpeting made from polyester is easy to clean and care for. The best type of polyester carpeting for stairs is one with a short fibre.
Polyester carpets have drawbacks. Acid-based liquids like coffee, tea and soda readily stain polyester carpeting. In a fire, polyester will emit toxic fumes that can prevent your safe escape.
Other Natural Fibers
Cotton, jute, grass and silk are other types of carpeting that can be used on stairs. Unlike wool, these fibres are less durable and stain easily. Grass, silk and jute cannot be exposed to water or liquids. Water will stain silk and jute. It is difficult to clean these natural fibres. This makes them suitable for low traffic or areas that are used very infrequently. Cotton, jute, grass and silk carpets are not a good choice for carpeting stairs.