What Do Stairs Look Like Under Carpet?

If you’ve been thinking about removing the carpeting from your stairs, you’re probably wondering how to know what’s hiding underneath.

To see what your stairs look like under the carpet, pull up a corner on the vertical part that supports a step and see what’s underneath. Typically, hardwood is only used on the visible edges of carpeted stairs, so you are likely to discover a more inexpensive material.

Is it worth it to take the carpet off your stairs? In this article, I’ll discuss this question in detail and give you tips on how to make the decision that will work best for you.

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Have you ever wondered what's under the carpet on your stairs? Here's how to find out, the pros and cons of using carpet on stairs, and whether you should remove yours.

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Pros and Cons of Using Carpet on Stairs

Does it make sense to use carpeting on the stairs, or should you remove it? Let’s start by discussing the pros and cons of carpets compared to wood or tile flooring:

Pros of Using Carpet on Stairs

It Helps Reduce Noise

One of the main reasons for choosing carpets for stairs is that they absorb loud noises. If you have a big family, constant thumping can be annoying for everyone in the house. This is especially true with kids at home: they love being loud as they run up and down the stairs.

Other times the stairs can be noisy simply because of the material and creak badly, especially with time. A significant advantage of carpeting is it can reduce these sounds and eliminate the noisy source of distraction.

It’s Warm and Comfortable

Another reason many people stick to carpeting is it can give you a soft landing if you trip. Of course, this only goes for minor falls, but the carpet can be really helpful in avoiding painful bumps and bruises.

Besides providing a soft landing, carpeting keeps the stairs warm and comfortable, which is especially appreciated during cold seasons. Overall, carpets are very cozy and make your stairs look and feel comfy.

Carpet Is Affordable

Many people use carpeting for their stairs because it is inexpensive compared to wood flooring. This can be an especially critical point if there are many stairs in the house. Having wood-covered stairs can be a complicated and pricy project, but carpets are a quick and easy solution that many people choose.

Carpet Can Hide Imperfections

Finally, carpets effectively cover the imperfections of old stairs. If you live in an old house and want a budget-friendly option for renovating the stairs, carpet is your choice. Stairs are often built from inexpensive materials, with only visible parts decorated with hardwood, and the rest is typically covered in carpeting.

Cons of Using Carpeting on Stairs

Challenging To Clean

One of the biggest drawbacks of carpeting is that it’s very challenging to keep it clean — especially on stairs. Cleaning the carpeting requires dragging a vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs and going over each step. This makes cleaning tiresome and tricky.

For more about this, be sure to check out my article on the types of carpeting that are easiest and hardest to clean.

Accidental spills and similar incidents also leave their markings on your carpet, and sometimes they are very hard to get rid of. It is much easier to remove stains from hardwood, while your carpeting can be easily ruined.

In addition, even if you do your best to clean the carpet properly, it will still gather dirt, dust, mold, and other unpleasant substances. It can accumulate over time, which can be a huge problem for people with allergies. This is one of the major cons when deciding if wall-to-wall carpet is the right choice for you.

Carpeted Stairs Can Be a Tripping Hazard

While many believe carpeting makes the stairs safer, several safety concerns should be addressed. Carpeting does make the stairs softer and minimizes damage from small falls, but it also makes the falls more probable.

What most people don’t realize is that the carpet smooths down the edges of the stairs, making it easier to slip and lose your balance. On the other hand, sharp stair edges are much more convenient, especially when coming down the steps.

It’s also true that carpets are can be slippery, some materials more so than others. While many think it’s easier to trip on hardwood stairs, that’s not, in fact, true. The depth of each step is also reduced because of the carpeting, which increases the risk of accidental falls.

Not As Attractive As Hardwood

Finally, there is the issue of aesthetics. It is not as important to everyone as the practical side, but it might be critical for some. It is, of course, a question of taste and personal preference, but most would agree hardwood looks prettier on the stairs, especially if used in other areas of your home.

One of the main reasons for it also has to do with the fact that hardwood is easier to maintain and keep clean. Carpeting tends to lift, gather dirt, get stains, and overall look worn-out and less attractive over time. Hardwood, however, is a long-lasting material that looks great and can be easily renovated if needed.

Should You Remove Carpeting From Your Stairs?

As we’ve discussed, carpeting on stairs has both advantages and disadvantages. How to decide whether to keep it or rip it off? Here are some things to consider before committing to a renovation or dismissing the idea altogether: 

The Underlying Material

The first thing you should do before removing the carpeting from the stairs is to check what lies underneath. I’ve already explained how you can do it at the beginning of the article: pull a corner from the vertical part of a step and look at what material is under the carpet.

If the stairs weren’t originally meant to be carpeted, there is a chance you will discover hardwood underneath. If so, you’re in luck: the hardwood might be slightly damaged by the nails, yet it will be much easier to renovate your stairs with a good material already in place.

This is sometimes the case for older houses but is not so common in new ones. It is typical to put cheaper and not-so-appealing materials underneath, like plywood, as the steps will be covered with a carpet. 

So, even if the trim or visible edges of your stairs feature hardwood, it still makes sense to check what’s under your carpeting, as the material can be entirely different.

Complexity and Budget

Once you know what’s under your carpeting, consider the complexity of renovation and how expensive you can expect it to be. Needless to say, discovering hardwood underneath really cuts down your costs and makes the job easier and faster.

However, if you need to redo the stairs in hardwood, it can be pricey. Whether you can do it yourself or will have to hire a professional also counts. Consider your budget and whether it makes sense for you to commit to such an ambitious project.

Keeping It Healthy

I’ve already discussed the struggles of keeping your carpeting clean. However, this is especially critical if you have children or someone in your family is allergic. Carpet dust and mold can be harmful to their health, and if your carpeting has served you some time already, you might have even more reasons to get rid of it.

Final Thoughts

You may check the underside of your carpeting by pulling it up by the corner. If you find there’s hardwood underneath, you might consider removing your carpet.

While carpeting reduces noise on the stairs, provides a soft landing if someone trips, and is very inexpensive, it has considerable drawbacks. It is less safe than hardwood because it collects dirt and makes the steps shorter and smoother, increasing the danger of falling.