Carpeting is one of the most popular flooring materials available. It feels good underfoot, makes rooms seem warmer, and comes in a wide range of colors, materials, and patterns. If you have carpeting elsewhere in your home, consider installing it on your stairs as well. Many variables impact the cost of a stair carpeting project, including the carpet material and texture, stair length, and whether the stairs have spindles.
The national average cost for stair carpeting is $430 to $780, with most homeowners paying around $650 to install carpet on a straight flight of 12 steps without spindles using 6 sq.yd. of level loop Triexta carpet. This project’s low cost is $300 for 6 sq.yd. of Berber olefin carpet installed on straight stairs without spindles. The high cost is $2,460 for 12 sq.yd. of velvet wool carpet installed on stairs with spindles.
|Cost to Install Carpet on Stairs|
|National average cost||$650|
Like carpeting throughout the rest of your home, you have many choices for the material used to carpet stairs. But know that stairs take more of a beating on an average day than the rest of your carpet. Therefore, it is common to upgrade your carpet material or quality for stairs.
Carpeting comes in various synthetic and natural fibers and some blends of the two. Natural materials tend to be the most expensive, eco-friendly, and longest wearing. Synthetics are less expensive and come in a range of qualities, textures, colors, and patterns.
Carpeting is typically sold and installed by the square yard, but it can be priced by the square foot. Depending on the material, you may find material costs between $6.75 and $234 a square yard or $0.75 to $26 a square foot. Not every material is the best fit for every project, so consider more than the cost of each fiber. Below are the average costs for each carpet fiber in square yards and feet.
|Type||Type of Fiber||Costs per Sq.Yd. (Material Only)||Cost per Sq.Ft. (Material Only)|
|Olefin||Synthetic||$6.75 - $45||$0.75 - $5|
|Polyester||Synthetic||$13.50 - $54||$1.50 - $6|
|Triexta||Synthetic||$18 - $54||$2 - $6|
|Nylon||Synthetic||$18 - $72||$2 - $8|
|Seagrass||Natural||$21 - $54||$3 - $6|
|Coir||Natural||$21 - $54||$3 - $6|
|Sisal||Natural||$21 - $54||$3 - $6|
|Jute||Natural||$36 - $72||$4 - $8|
|Wool||Natural||$45 - $234||$5 - $26|
The average cost of olefin stair carpeting is $6.75 to $45 per sq.yd. or $0.75 to $5 per sq.ft. Olefin is a synthetic polypropylene material known for its low price, moisture-wicking properties, and resistance to stains, mold, and mildew. Olefin comes in many colors and styles. It is often used for areas like basement and patio stairs that are exposed to moisture. Olefin is inexpensive but not very durable. It does not hold well in high-traffic areas. It is also more likely to be found in Berber and other loop carpets because it mats too quickly in cut fibers. It also absorbs oils and grease and is sensitive to friction heat, which can cause it to melt or scorch.
Expect to pay $13.50 to $54 per sq.yd. or $1.50 to $6 per sq.ft. for polyester stair carpeting. Polyester carpeting is a synthetic option that can be made from recycled products. It holds color well and has a soft texture at a budget-friendly price. The hydrophobic properties of polyester repel liquid stains. Polyester is generally less durable than other materials, so consider this before choosing polyester carpeting for stairs. Some newer polyester types are more durable than older options. Always check with your installer about which type they recommend.
Triexta stair carpeting averages $18 to $54 per sq.yd. or $2 to $6 per sq.ft. Triexta carpeting is a fairly new synthetic fiber type developed by DuPont and sold almost exclusively through Mohawk. Triexta, also known as polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT), shares some attributes of polyester and nylon. Two Triexta variants - Sorona and SmartStrand - are used in home goods. Most Triexta carpeting is the stain-resistant and durable SmartStrand material, which is well-suited for stairs. Look for the word Triexta on the carpet. Other PTT types can be found at some retailers, but they are often lower quality.
The average cost of nylon stair carpeting is $18 to $72 per sq.yd. or $2 to $8 per sq.ft. Nylon is one of the most durable and popular synthetic fiber carpet options available. Its fibers bounce back easily from compaction, making it an excellent choice for high-traffic areas like stairs. One of the downsides of nylon is its absorbent quality, which can trap spills and cause stains. But nylon carpeting can be treated to make it more stain-resistant. Nylon is one of the most popular choices for stairs because it tends to crush less than other synthetic fibers.
Seagrass stair carpeting averages $21 to $54 per sq.yd. or $3 to $6 per sq.ft. Seagrass is a perennial flowering water plant native to underwater meadows in Asia. The leaves of the seagrass plant are harvested for use in many home goods, including placemats, rugs, and carpeting. Seagrass fibers are smooth, non-porous, and very durable. A natural waxy coating repels liquid, dust, and dirt, making seagrass low-allergen and stain-resistant. Seagrass carpets are fairly rare, so your choices may be limited. However, you can sometimes find runners that can be bound to create stair carpets.
The average price for coir stair carpeting is $21 to $54 per sq.yd. or $3 to $6 per sq.ft. Coconut shell husks are used to produce durable, natural coir fiber for home products like ropes, floor mats, and carpeting. A 100% coir floor covering has a rough, rustic texture and is very durable. Coir fibers can be mixed with other natural fibers like sisal for stability and a slightly softer texture. Coir’s natural mold and mildew resistance makes it a good choice in humid locations, although it can still absorb spills and stains. The rough texture and durability of coir make it a good option for stair carpeting. Coir is difficult to find in many options. It can sometimes be found at the same retailers who work with other natural fibers like jute, seagrass, and sisal.
Expect to pay $21 to $54 per sq.yd. or $3 to $6 per sq.ft. for sisal stair carpeting. Sisal is a tough eco-friendly natural fiber that comes from the leaves of the Agave Sisalana cactus. Sisal is used in ropes, carpeting, and rugs. The fiber strength makes sisal a good choice for high-traffic areas like stairs. Being a natural fiber means sisal may be more difficult to keep clean than synthetic fibers. Sisal is one of the more common natural fibers used for carpets. It is often used as runners that can be installed on stairs.
The average price for jute stair carpeting is $36 to $72 per sq.yd. or $4 to $8 per sq.ft. The fibers for jute carpeting come from the Corchorus plants of Bangladesh and India. Although jute fiber is thick, it is also a soft natural fiber that feels comfortable under bare feet. Natural color variations make jute carpeting visually appealing. Jute is a very absorbent material, so it will stain if spills are not treated promptly. It can also trap the moisture and start to mildew. Since jute is somewhat difficult to clean, it is often not the best choice for high-traffic stairs in areas that are prone to staining.
Wool stair carpeting averages $45 to $234 per sq.yd. or $5 to $26 per sq.ft. Wool is one of the warmest and most cozy natural fiber materials with excellent thermal insulation and sound absorption properties. The lanolin and other natural oils in the wool fiber repel water-based stains, making them easier to clean. Wool is a durable, long-lasting, and beautiful fiber that has long been a popular upscale choice for rugs and carpeting. It is the most expensive carpeting material on the list, but it stands up to the rigors of stairs. You can often find wool blended with other fibers to create a lower-cost but highly soft and durable carpet.
Your carpet’s texture impacts how it looks, feels, and how well it holds over time. Carpeting is available in many variations of cut and loop textures.
When considering texture options, understand that although carpets come in many textures, not all of them are ideal for stairs. For example, very long carpet fibers are more likely to be crushed on the stairs, while loop fibers and low cut piles of ¾” or lower are ideal so that the carpet fibers can wrap around the curve of the step without smiling (gapping). Carpets with a shorter pile usually compress less and retain the original appearance longer. Density is also important. The more closely the fiber tufts are spaced, the denser and more durable the carpet.
Some of the best choices for high-traffic stairs are level loop, multi-level loop, and Berber. The dense, tight, uncut loops of carpet fibers in these textures do not show vacuum marks or footprints 1, and they retain their height and shape despite repeated wear. Cut and loop and fireze are also viable choices for carpeting stairs, although you should keep their height low to avoid crushing.
Avoid tall-pile Saxony, shag, cable, and plush on frequently used staircases. These textures do not hold their shape and are better suited for lower-traffic areas. Velvet carpeting is an upscale and long-lasting choice for formal areas, but it is not often recommended for high-traffic stairs since it can show tread and wear marks.
Below are the different textures for carpeting available and their average costs per square yard and square foot.
|Texture||Used for Stairs||Costs per Sq.Yd. (Material Only)||Costs per Sq.Ft. (Material Only)|
|Level Loop||Yes||$6.75 - $54||$0.75 - $6|
|Berber||Yes||$9 - $72||$1 - $8|
|Cut and Loop||Somewhat||$9 - $90||$1 - $10|
|Shag||No||$18 - $234||$2 - $26|
|Cable||No||$18 - $234||$2 - $26|
|Saxony||No||$27 - $90||$3 - $10|
|Plush||No||$27 - $90||$3 - $10|
|Textured Saxony||Somewhat||$27 - $90||$3 - $10|
|Multi-Level Loop||Yes||$27 - $90||$3 - $10|
|Fireze||Somewhat||$36 - $63||$4 - $7|
|Velvet||Seldom||$36 - $234||$4 - $26|
While most people focus on how their carpet looks and feels, you also need to consider the carpet’s construction when it comes to durability and longevity. Carpet is constructed in two ways: bulked continuous filament (BCF) and staple, with the trend moving toward more BCF construction. BCF is made of long, extruded carpet fibers that are twisted all at once. The fibers in a BCF-constructed rug resist pilling and do not shed. Most synthetic carpet fibers like Olefin and Triexta are available in a BCF construction, but most natural fibers like wool are not. Some fibers like nylon have been produced in both BCF and staple varieties. This is not always readily available information, so you may need to ask the manufacturer directly if you want BCF nylon carpet.
Staple construction carpeting is made up of many individual carpet strands, ranging from 3” to 10” in length, with 7.5” being the most common. The longer the staple fiber length, the higher the quality. Rugs with more intricate designs and patterns are typically long-length staple construction, and wool is the most common staple rug fiber. Wool and other natural fibers tend to be restricted in how long they can get, which is why they are not available in BCF. The fibers of a staple rug shed noticeably for the first few weeks after installation, diminishing over the first year. This means you may find yourself vacuuming more frequently over the first year. If you choose a less expensive or synthetic staple construction carpet, you may find that it does not last as long as those of better quality.
Since most staple carpeting is made of more expensive natural fibers and most BCF carpet is from less pricey synthetic fibers, expect to pay more per square yard for staple carpeting than for BCF carpet. When comparing the same fiber material in BCF versus staple, the BCF rug could cost more since most staple rugs are created in-house at the carpet manufacturer’s site, while BCF rugs often rely on yarn purchased at a mark-up from an outside fiber producer.
|Type of Carpet Construction||Average Costs per Sq.Yd. (Material Only)||Average Costs per Sq.Ft. (Material Only)|
|BCF||$6.75 - $90||$0.75 - $10|
|Staple||$27 - $234||$3 - $26|
Labor costs vary for installing stair carpeting for many reasons. Many installers charge a flat rate for stair carpeting installation from $75 to $250 for a run of about 12 steps. Straight steps having a simple runner installed cost the least, and stairs with spindles 2 that have exposed sides that need to be wrapped cost the most. Some installers also charge a minimum of $1 to $2 a sq.ft. of carpet used in addition to the total cost of the stair installation. So, if you have 12 stairs, you need roughly 54 sq.ft. or 6 sq.yds of carpet for an additional cost of $54 to $108. This makes the average run of 12 steps between $129 and $358 in labor.
Installation varies depending on the run of stairs, the configuration, and whether you have a banister 3 with spindles. If there are no spindles and the carpet stretches from one side to the other, the installation is not much different from carpeting a room. Spindles, curves, landings, and other varying configurations cost more per step than simple runs.
For the average installation of 6 sq.yd. of Triexta carpet on a run of 12 stairs, expect a labor cost of around $150 to $200 out of the $650 total.
Staircases come in multiple configurations. Straight stairs are the most common, but you can also have winders, L-shaped, and U-shaped staircases. These can have spindles, carpet that wraps both sides, or be simple box steps. Average carpeting cost with installation varies for each configuration, reflecting the additional carpeting and labor needed.
For example, straight steps use the least amount of carpeting with the lowest costs. Winders use slightly more carpeting and are more complex because they turn the corner. L- and U-shaped staircases use the most carpeting and have the highest costs because they have a landing. U-shaped staircases have more steps than L-shaped because they branch off in two directions.
The following costs are based on the average number of steps in a home - 12. Your costs are higher if you have more steps or a U-landing, with the costs of a U-landing being the same as an L and additional costs for the extra 6 steps.
|Type of Stairs||Average Costs (Installed)|
|Straight Stair||$432 - $780/12 stairs|
|Winder||$522 - $915/12 stairs|
|L-Shaped||$528 - $876/12 stairs with a landing|
Carpeting a straight 12-step staircase averages $432 to $780. Straight staircases are the easiest to carpet since all the steps are the same dimensions, and there are no angles or difficult material cuts to make. Costs vary depending on the step and carpet type and if there are spindles.
The cost to carpet a 12-step winder staircase is $522 to $915. The additional time and difficulty involved in a winder staircase raise total installation costs slightly. Expect to pay an additional $0.50 to $2 per square foot in labor costs for the special cuts needed on the angled stairs that make the turn in the middle of the staircase.
Winder staircases are a complex stair configuration. A winder is a staircase design that allows the staircase to change direction without a landing. This saves space but creates multiple angled steps with a pie-shape on the turn. The angled stairs are deeper on one end than the other, and each has a unique dimension.
The average installed price for 12 stairs plus a landing in an L-configuration costs from $528 to $876, paying an additional $50 to add a carpeted 4’ x 5’ landing. Landings are larger flat surfaces between two segments of straight stairs. Landings are used to change stair direction on L and U-shaped staircases. While installing carpet on a landing is not more challenging than on a stair, landings have a larger surface area, so you need additional carpeting, accounting for the slightly higher cost.
If you already have carpeting on your stairs and want to replace it, factor in costs for removal and disposal of the old carpeting. Carpet removal and disposal rates are typically between $0.50 to $2 per square foot. In some cases, removing the existing carpet is included in the labor cost for installing new carpet. Other times, the removal price is quoted separately. For the average 12-step staircase, you pay an additional $27 to $108 in labor fees, for a total cost range of $457 to $888 to replace the carpeting. Costs can be higher if you have spindles because removing the carpet can be just as difficult as cutting and installing new carpeting on spindles. Likewise, costs for winder and L-shaped staircases may be higher.
Many people who have stairs in their home install a stair runner rather than a full set of carpeting over the stairs. This is most commonly done on stairs that are already finished in some other way, such as hardwood or tile stairs. A stair runner is a hybrid approach that produces the visual appearance of both carpeted and wood or tile stairs. As The Spruce describes, runners are pieces of carpet that do not cover the entire width of the stair. They are overlaid along the staircase center, leaving exposed tread on both sides.
Runners allow you to keep some of the beauty of your existing stairs while adding additional color and pattern from the carpet and a more comfortable tread. Any carpet type can be found in a runner. You can also make runners by adding binding onto the edges of the carpet pieces.
Pricing for stair runners is different than for a fully carpeted stair. Since the edges of the runner are visible, they must be finished off with a binding. Runners can be purchased pre-finished, or you can have them custom-finished if you have a carpet you like that does not come as a runner. Various edge finishes are available, with prices ranging from $2 to $6.50 per linear foot. The average set of stairs needs 22 linear feet of runner. The finishing cost is in addition to the cost of the runner. Installation costs $295 to $395 for a straight set of steps and $395 to $495 if you have 90º turn landings or a winder staircase.
Total costs also vary depending on the material. Runners come in all the same materials as your wall-to-wall and staircase carpeting. Some materials like jute, sisal, and seagrass are more common as runners than full carpets. You can also find plastic and vinyl 4 runners to install over existing carpet. This helps protect your current carpet and prevent staining and wear. Below are the average costs for each carpeting type as a runner in 22 linear feet increments.
|Material||Average Costs (22 Linear Feet Installed)|
|Plastic||$335 - $435|
|Vinyl||$412 - $612|
|Nylon||$471 - $657|
|Seagrass||$565 - $765|
|Sisal||$565 - $765|
|Jute||$675 - $965|
|Wool||$850 - $2,630|
Many people use synthetic fibers on their stairs. Of these, nylon and polyester are the most common and popular. While both are synthetic fibers, they are very different.
Polyester is the lower cost alternative. It is made of a type of plastic, and many of today’s polyester carpets are made from recycled water bottles. This makes them a more eco-friendly synthetic than many others on the market. Polyester holds color well, has a soft texture, and is excellent at repelling liquids.
Nylon is more expensive, but it is more durable and longer-lasting. It is less likely to crush than polyester, so you can use it on high-traffic stairs without issue. You can also use slightly longer and different fibers than polyester without worrying about them shedding or crushing. The potential downside of nylon is its highly absorbent properties that can trap stains. It is recommended to steam clean your nylon carpeting yearly, making it higher in maintenance than polyester.
Below are the average costs per square foot and square yard installed for each of the fibers.
|Material||Average Costs per Sq.Yd.(Installed)||Average Costs per Sq.Ft. (Installed)|
|Polyester||$20.25 - $72||$2.25 - $8|
|Nylon||$27 - $90||$3 - $10|
You can finish an interior staircase in many ways. Two of the most common include hardwood and carpeting. In each case, it can be common to use the same material used on the flooring adjacent to the stairs on the stairs themselves. For example, if you have a maple hardwood floor, you may want to use a maple hardwood staircase to match. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and some people may like a mixture of materials.
A wood staircase offers a clean appearance ranging from traditional to contemporary, depending on the style and wood. Wood comes in many species and can have many grains and finishes, from sleek to rustic. Wood can be slippery when wet, however. Slip and fall accidents on wooden staircases are more likely to result in injuries because carpeted stairs have padding 5. Carpeted stairs provide more traction and feel softer underfoot. They are not slippery and can help cushion falls. Carpet also comes in many colors and patterns and can be used to enhance the staircase’s interior. Carpeting typically has a shorter lifespan than wood and needs replacing sooner. Carpeted steps cost less than wood steps. Below are the average installed costs of wood and carpet priced per step.
|Material||Average Costs per Step (Installed)|
|Carpet||$36 - $65|
|Wood||$50 - $150|
Some homeowners install outdoor carpeting on their interior stairs. If you like the look, outdoor carpeting can be a good option because of its durability, soil resistance, non-slip characteristics, and dense, low-pile construction. Olefin is a good example of an indoor/outdoor carpet. Expect to pay $1.90 to $3.50 per sq.ft. installed for outdoor carpeting.
Costs vary depending on the number of stairs, configuration, pattern, and material. Most people spend around $430 to $780 to carpet a single flight of straight stairs.
No one carpet is the best option for stairs, but look for low-pile, non-crushable, highly durable carpets in a stain-resistant material.
The installation time depends on the number of stairs and whether there are spindles. It can take anywhere from a few hours to 1 to 3 days to install stair carpeting. The more complex the installation, the higher the costs.
The carpet is not more expensive, but the installation is because the installer must cut, tuck, and tack the carpet so that it sits snugly on each stair. If your staircase has spindles, the carpet must be adjusted for those as well. The more involved the installation, the higher the cost. A runner may be more expensive per foot because it must be bound on the edges.
Rather than being one large piece like for a square or rectangular room, the carpeting for stairs is often cut to fit. Homeowners or contractors must carefully measure the landings and each stair’s rise, run, and width to determine the carpet size needed. If you take your own measurements, double-check your work and add 10% to 15% to the final number to allow for waste and mistakes.