How To Measure Stairs For Carpet (Quickly & Easily!)

How To Measure Stairs For Carpet

Adding carpeting to stairs is a classic DIY project that can increase your home’s value and drastically change the way a room looks. It’s also known as a cheap project. Of course, there’s one major hurdle you need to do before you can cut a rug, so to speak. That thing, of course, is that you will need to know how much carpet to buy. But, how do you measure your stairs for this project?

Start by getting a flexible tape measure and measuring the rise and depth of a single stair, in inches. Multiply that by the number of stairs you are going to cover, then divide by 12 to get the length (in feet) of carpet you need. To get the width, just measure the width of the stairs.

The overall procedure of measuring stairs for a new carpet layer itself is pretty straightforward, but getting the full details on this can be more of a hassle than you initially thought. Let’s take a look at the full scoop.

How Much Carpeting Do You Need For A Typical Set Of Stairs?

While you should always measure your stairs to make sure that you’ll buy enough material, there are still some basic guidelines that can help you “guesstimate” what you should buy. Here’s what you need to know about the standard size of a stair step:

  • Typical open stairs will need 20 inches to measure around the entire stair. If you have open stairs, you will need to wrap the tape measure around the stair.
  • Every step of a standard box stair is going to require 18 inches in length and three feet in width. The length of this carpet measurement includes tread and riser.
  • Cap stairs, which wrap around the side of the stair, have similar standard lengths to box stairs. They need more width, which means that a standard step on these stairs will be 18 inches by four feet.
  • Curved stairs will need 48 inches by 30 inches per step. With each step, you’re going to have to trim down the carpeting. However, you’re still going to need solid strips of carpet that can fully cover the steps to make your stairs properly covered.

Do You Always Have To Measure Stairs For Carpeting?

Believe it or not, there’s a way to get around the need to whip out a measuring tape. The easiest way to avoid measuring your stairs is to install carpet step panels instead. These are prefabricated panels that are meant to fit on virtually every type of staircase, which means that you can just nail them in and enjoy the rest of your day.

With that said, if you want to have carpeting that completely covers your stairs, measuring is not optional. You will need to do this in order to get decent coverage and avoid a trip to the hardware store. (Besides, it’s a standard procedure to take when you’re replacing carpet or adding new carpeting in any part of your home!)

What Is The Most Difficult Type Of Stairs To Carpet?

Obviously, box stairs are going to be the easiest ones to install. When it comes to stair types that may require a little professional care, the answer is split between two major categories: curved stairs and open stairs. Both have their own pitfalls that make a typical installation more difficult than the average.

The issue that makes curved stairs so difficult to carpet is the fact that each stair tends to require a different carpet cut. This can lead to more time spent cutting, not to mention difficulty getting your carpet to be properly installed. Floating stairs, on the other hand, have a different issue. Wrapping carpeting around floating stairs can be difficult to do without seams being clearly visible.

Is Installing Carpeting On The Stairs A DIY Project?

It can be. Installing carpeting on stairs may appear to be fairly challenging, but the truth is that it’s not as bad as you’d expect it to be. If you want to learn more about this project as a DIY endeavor, check out this easy-to-follow tutorial on how to install carpeting on stairs. You won’t even need tack strips for this!

With that said, there are certain types of stairs that tend to require a professional touch—especially if you are not used to doing your own carpeting. If you have curved stairs or open stairs, then you are better off having someone install them for you. Installation methods involving these types often require special techniques that can be a bit too hard for typical projects.

How Much Does It Cost To Install Carpeting On Stairs?

This is a great question, but the truth is that it all depends on the type of stairs, the type of carpeting, and how many steps you need to cover. For a 13-step flight of stairs, you should expect to pay between $150 to $600 for professional installation. If you do it yourself, you will be able to reduce the price tag significantly.

How Long Does Installing Carpeting On Stairs Take?

It all depends on how much experience you have laying carpet. Most professionals are able to install carpeting on stairs at a rate of two minutes per step, assuming standard box stairs. This is a good estimate for standard stairs with medium-pile carpeting. Having all that extra experience is a good perk when it comes to timing.

However, most people will take a lot longer for their installation timings. This can translate into three to 10 minutes per stair depending on the carpet and stair type. For most homes with stairs, this can turn a carpet installation on stairs into a day project. Most professionals, on the other hand, can do this in a couple of hours.

Important Tips For Carpeting Stairs

Getting ready to carpet stairs on your own can be daunting, but it’s worth it in most cases. These tips below will help you make sure that you get the best possible results:

  • Make sure to cover your stairs with the right materials. Some stairs, like box stairs, don’t need carpet tack for an installation. Other stairs, like floating (“open”) stairs, will. A good set of instructions can help you make the most of your carpeting.
  • Buy a little extra carpeting, just in case. Sometimes, mistakes can happen. Having a little extra carpeting can help you cover up mistakes in some cases, and that extra stuff can act as a patch.
  • Make sure that each step’s pile faces the same way. This might seem like a minor detail to get concerned about, but it quickly turns into an ordeal that’s mildly infuriating when you neglect to notice it.
  • If you have a difficult type of stair to carpet, consider using panels instead. Carpeting panels are highly recommended for floating stairs, which often are hard to fully carpet otherwise. Curved stairs and spiral staircases are better off with paneling, too.
  • When in doubt, talk to a professional carpet installer for advice. More often than not, they will be able to advise you on the best type of carpeting for your stairs as well as the fastest installation procedure. Of course, if you’re feeling shaky about installing your own stair carpeting, asking them to do the install for you is the fastest way to make sure you get good results.

Related Questions

Why is it a good idea to add carpeting to stairs?

Having carpeted stairs is a good choice for a multitude of reasons. The biggest reason to add carpeting to your stairs is safety. Carpeting improves your tread’s grip, which reduces the chances of a slip and fall. Should a fall occur, the extra padding will help protect people and cushion one’s fall.

Of course, there are other reasons why adding carpeting is a good idea. Along with giving your home a nice aesthetic boost, you can also count on carpeting to offer a nice level of soundproofing as well. This, in turn, creates a quieter home.

What is the best carpet type for stairs?

The best carpeting to use for a stair installation is a low-pile carpet. Carpet that’s 3/4 of an inch at the highest will be the easiest to apply and the least likely to cause problems for people descending the stairs. Worried about stylistic issues? Don’t be. Low pile carpeting comes in a very wide range of different colors, making it an ideal pick for almost any room in your home.

Do you have to add carpeting to your stairs?

While adding carpeting to your stairs is a great way to improve the look and feel of your home, it’s usually not mandatory by any means of the word. Statewide, there will never be a building code that requires stairs to be carpeted. It’s a nice perk, but not mandatory.

Even if you have a strict homeowner’s association, you shouldn’t worry too much about having to add carpeting if you don’t want to do so. It would be exceedingly unusual to hear about an HOA that demanded every resident to add carpeting to stairs.

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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