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Stairs flooring ideas

  • Last Updated:
  • Jul 14th, 2020 2:55 pm
Feb 21, 2019
46 posts

Stairs flooring ideas

We just moved into our first house and need advice for stairs flooring. the previous owners had just ripped the carpet and painted the treads and risers white (see pictures). You can still see remnants of carpet and staples on the wood, the surface is not smooth and there are visible gaps everywhere. The stairs are right at the entrance so we need to fix it.

I would like some tips on the best flooring option:
  • Carpet would cost us around $250 (cut piece and underlayer), but it won't look nice. If we pay for installation it will be another $500, but we will try to do it ourselves. (We are also installing carpet in the basement).
  • Hardwood estimation based on research seems around $55/tread and riser so around $1500 plus finishing and installation (as we probably cannot do it ourselves).
There are already four different types of flooring (maple hardwood in living/dining, tiles hallway/kitchen, laminate upstairs and another type of tiles bathroom) so the carpet would add another type. For hardwood we can try maple treads to match the current living room flooring or perhaps dark brown to match laminate color upstairs.

My spouse is thinking we can do carpet now and then change it in a few years when we renovate the rest of the flooring. I am thinking why put on the carpet when we will have to rip it off in a few years and it won't look nice for all these years.

Do you think we can just fill the gaps and spaces and stain the plywood type material for now rather than carpet? Are there other options for stairs besides hardwood or carpet?

Will appreciate any advice from someone experienced. Currently it is only the two of us, but our parents stay with us for a month or so every year.
4 replies
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
22288 posts
Eastern Ontario
Lol, looks like someone got tired of old worn out carpet
And just ripped it out
Prob wanting hardwood ...
Until they found out the cost !!!
Sticker shock.

My best advice ...

FORGET about laying carpet yourself ... it’s a pretty intense job to do it right
Esp on stairs

So either do it hardwood now ... once & done
Or do carpet as a short term < 10 year stop gap

Flooring in general ... based on your other comments

1- when it does come time to do the stairs. Have them match the downstairs maple, and not the upstairs darker laminate
Your eye naturally goes up the stairs ... from your feet up
So there is an “association” between the maple and the stairs
Whereas there would be NOTHING to tie in to the very dark laminate
It would stick out as a sore thumb in the same way these painted very white stairs do now

2- Nothing says all the flooring in your house has to be matchy matchy

So nothing wrong with upstairs being different than downstairs
If you like the easy clean of the laminate ... stick with it
If you want to upgrade Upstairs ... consider doing more maple flooring
Or ... if there’s no allergies, carpet is still nice & cozy in bedrooms
(But carpet is really a case of one liking it or not)

Bathrooms ... nothing wrong with different flooring
Not every bath has to match

Although it is nice on the main floor if any hard / tiled surfaces coordinate in some way

So they could be all the same tile
Or similar in colour etc

(Example ... Black & White Checkerboard in the foyer ... pure white in the kitchen, and full on black in the powder room. Very classic. An all white subway tiled kitchen with white oversized tiles on the floor. And a chic upscale predominantly black powder room, with one or two other colours as an accent ... drawn from paint or wallpaper. Timeless. And goes with everything, any sort of decor, so will give you both longevity and good resale value down the road)
Sr. Member
Feb 26, 2019
584 posts
Paint it. 100%.

Its actually a pretty nice old staircase that has nice "old house look". If it were my house I would spend a day filling holes and sanding. Then I would spend another day or two priming and painting it with a very good quality flooring paint in a nice colour. It will be a big job to paint the banister and stairs. But if you do a good job and and pick a nice colour, it will look amazing. For the treads, make sure you buy a good quality paint that is specifically formulated for flooring. The treads will get dirty over time, but it is easy job to refresh the paint on the treads every once and a while.

Don't do carpet if you plan to sell in the foreseeable future - its a turn-off for buyers.

You could redo it in hardwood, but it will be pricey and will they will probably still not look *great* because it will be out of step with the rest of the place (e.g. wont coordinate with the tile at the bottom of the stairs or the flooring at the top). So unless you are re-doing all of the flooring and the stairs, I think it would be a waste to spend thousands on a brand new staircase.
Deal Addict
Jan 5, 2003
4755 posts
I have carpet for one set of stairs (to basement) and hate it. It's a pain to vacuum because you have to use hand tool attachments to really get into the crevices and you have to lug your heavy vacuum one step at a time. I can vacuum one complete floor in the same time it takes to vacuum half the stairs...

Meanwhile, my stairs to the second floor are hardwood and it's easy to use a Swiffer Sweeper or hand vaccum to get the dust bunnies and hair. But for carpet, you need a full size vacuum.
Feb 21, 2019
46 posts
Thank you so much for the detailed and helpful responses! We are going with the paint idea and have cancelled the carpet upstairs. I will now research on good flooring paint and techniques to fill holes and sand. Please let me know if you have any suggestions of good brands. I really appreciate the help and quick responses.