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Stair carpets

Testing can help to identify carpet products suitable for use on staircases in domestic and contract situations.

Carpet on stairs, in both domestic and contract installations, is subject to some of the most severe wear conditions of any carpet application. This is because the forces imposed by a person going up and down stairs are quite different from those imposed by the same person when walking on a flat surface. In addition, many people do not just walk up and down stairs, but run, or take them two at a time.

At the top and bottom of the stairs, there is inevitably a twisting or turning point. However, the most vulnerable part of the stair is generally the nosing, which receives severe physical abrasion in use.

All this means that great care is required when specifying carpets for stair installations.


There is no single test procedure which will predict the different properties of all carpet types in relation to use on stairs. However, there are a number of tests that can help to identify the most suitable product for either domestic or contract installations, including:

Table 1: Tuft withdrawal force BS 5229:1975 – typical minimum force requirements
Product Domestic Contract
Woven cut 5 N 7.5 N
Loop 10 N 15 N
Tufted cut 10 N 15 N
Loop 20 N 30 N

The Lisson Tretrad machine is used to assess the suitability of carpet for stairs by identifying such parameters as:

Fitting carpets on stairs

There are a number of practical considerations to ensure the longevity of a carpet on stairs. It is important to ensure it is fitted correctly to achieve satisfactory performance. A good grade of underlay should be used to support the wear life of a carpet, making sure that it is butted tightly to the gripper, and securely fixed over the nosing.

A common problem can be tuft disturbance at the bottom of the riser just above the gripper especially if the underlay has not butted tightly. This can cause a gap behind the carpet and, with the interaction of the foot catching this area, tufts can be dislodged. Foam backed carpets can also cause problems if they are not fully stuck down, or fitted with a prefabricated nosing.

Because of the severity of wear on a stair length it is suggested that extra material is allowed for, to enable periodic moving to equalise wear. Where movement is not feasible, additional material should be retained for subsequent replacement. Both carpet tiles and fibre-bonded products should be installed with prefabricated nosings.

How can we help?


Please email for assistance with the testing of carpet products for suitability on stairs, or other domestic or contract environment.