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Flooring for Stairways

Stairs offer a particular challenge when considering flooring in your home. Flooring in areas surrounding staircases should be practical and hardwearing, and provide a safe surface. The safety aspect is particularly important on the stairs themselves.

At the same time, the staircase offers a chance to make a statement about your whole house, particularly if it's in the entrance hall. The mood should be warm and welcoming, or perhaps striking and dramatic, in keeping with the style and decoration of the surrounding rooms

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Choosing the Right Flooring for Stairways

The choices for flooring your stairs are the same for other parts of the house - carpet, resilient surfaces, wood, concrete, tiles. However, because of the particular requirement of the stairway, that might not all be equally suitable.


Carpet on Stairways

The first choice for many people would be carpet (ink to flooring with carpets article). Carpeting your staircase and landings reduces the noise and controls the dust.

However, don't choose a pale carpet, as they get dirty very quickly and cleaning won't bring out some stains. A grubby stair carpet isn't the image you want! Choose a dark or mottled colourway that looks elegant and doesn't show the dirt.

On narrow stairs you could use a carpet runner, which is usually narrower than the stairs, and so makes them look wider. Some runners have a vertical strip pattern which increases the optical illusion of width.

Be aware that the high traffic use of stairs means the carpet will wear faster than in other areas. The edge of a tread of a carpeted staircase needs to be rounded to prevent premature wearing of the carpet on the nosing line. A worn stair carpet can be a dangerous hazard.


Colour and Pattern around Stairs

Many stairwells need more light, and here again carpet isn't suitable, as it doesn't reflect light. A polished or semi-polished surface such as stone, tiles or timber flooring will reflect ambient light better, increasing safety on the stair.

When choosing a reflective surface for the stairway, consider the floor surrounding the stairs, and whether you want to visually separate the stairs, or incorporate them into the larger floor area.

For example, where the floor and the stair are to be part of a continuous whole, the floor can be divided into segments the same width and depth as a stair tread. A handrail then divides the stair and flooring like an abstract painting.

Alternatively, a gently curving geometric stair make a perfect contrast for a very busy, colourful floor of tiles, stone, marble or timber or even carpet

With multi-patterned and multi-coloured tile flooring, the stairs' simplicity can be emphasised by picking just one or two shades from the floor and repeating them on the stair. In an entrance hall and stairway, the ever-popular black and white always makes an elegant statement.

Be aware with hard surfaces like stone, marble or tiles, of the risk of people slipping on them, and ensure any used on stair treads are not highly polished.


Timber Floors for Stairs

The use of timber for floors around stairways is always popular and enduring. As well as polished boards, the use of parquetry patterns. around the stairs can make a striking statement of warmth and elegance.

If a patterned floor such s complex parquetry design is used, it is best to keep the treatment of the stairs plain, to differentiate them and not confuse the user's eye. The main function of the flooring on the actual stair treads must always be safety. Make sure the stairs are clearly differentiated from the floor.

If the surrounding floor is patterned, the stairs could be carpeted with a plain medium coloured carpet, or with a stair runner over plain timber treads in a matching timber to the parquetry.

If plain polished boards are used for the flooring, ensure that the woodgrain or the pattern in which the boards is laid is at a different angle from the grain on the stair boards, to give the user a visual clue where the stairs start.

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