Wood or Carpet Stairs: What’s Best? (Pros and Cons)

Last Updated on August 3, 2023 by Web Operator

Both wood and carpet stairs have their pros and cons. From different ways of dealing with noise, to comfort or even helping with allergens, the choice of stairs is more important than you think.

When you stop and think, it all makes sense. Your staircase is a huge part of your home, and it dominates the space. Knowing your personal preferences from more than just a decor perspective is key.

But that is why I’m going to look at both the advantages and disadvantages of each option. In doing so, I feel it will then help you come to some kind of conclusion as to what you should do in your own home. 

But first, I will go through everything you need to know about wood stairs and talk about the various positives and negatives before moving onto carpeted stairs.

Wood Stairs – The Advantages

wooden stairs

Having plain old wood stairs in your home will come with a series of advantages to be aware of, and I think that several of them will be pretty obvious. However, that won’t always be the case. Instead, different woods such as oak, ash and mahogany can look exceptional when used for a staircase. So, knowing everything about the correct wood for a project is clearly key.

For me, these are the key advantages associated with wood stairs.

  • They are known to boost the value of your home
  • It’s easy to fit them in with the rest of your decor
  • They are more durable than carpets
  • They are easier to clean and care for
  • You don’t have to worry about allergens

Adding Value

Wood stairs add real value to your home, which may be a huge deal for some individuals. It is viewed as being an easier sell to individuals interested in purchasing your home, but I cannot state how much of an added value they will give. After all, it does vary depending on so many factors.

However, wood stairs will bump up the price, and it’s all thanks to how good they look.

Now, I know this does come with a very particular “look,” but I’ll mention later on how flexibility in what it can offer is important and how you are certainly not stuck with having wood stairs look a particular way.

But this point about adding value is something that is reflected in the price of a house. It makes the house seem far more desirable, and who wouldn’t want that if you were trying to sell? 

This does make a lot of sense. People can view stairs and see them in their homes as they are at that moment. If they are carpeted, then this only works if you also love the carpet that’s already laid there. People then view ripping up old carpet and either getting new carpet or repairing the stairs as being a massive project that they may not wish to undertake at that moment. 

They are Durable

With some general care, wooden stairs can prove to be highly durable. I’m not even talking about you spending a lot of time regularly to look after the stairs. Your wooden staircase does not have to do that. 

This is why you opt for hardwood. It can withstand a lot more punishment than you expect, so it should continue to look good for quite some time. 

Also, even if you intend to stain the stairs, then this is something that will last for some time before you need to repeat the process. This applies even if you use your stairs regularly, but it does mean you need to care for them correctly, or they will start to look quite tired.

They are Very Easy to Clean

I think this has to be one of the best advantages associated with wood stairs, and it’s the fact that they are exceptionally easy to clean. All it takes is a quick dust or a quick mop, and they can look brand new. However, this is something you do need to do regularly, or else it’s going to involve a bit more work than that. 

It can literally take you just a matter of minutes to do this task, and it will undoubtedly make a real difference. Compare this to what you can do with cleaning carpets. Wood stairs take a fraction of the time, and it’s often easier to see the improvements you have been able to make as a result.

You Can Freshen Them Up with Ease

This advantage rolls on from the previous one, as there are times when wood stairs just do not look their best at all. So, you need to freshen them up, and that is something that should also be easy to do.

Whereas with carpet stairs, you need to rip up the carpet and dispose of it. None of that applies to wood stairs. Instead, you can varnish or stain your wood stairs, and it will indeed give them something of a fresher look. 

This is an amazingly satisfying project to become involved in, as you will quickly see the improvement you have been able to make. Also, doing this will completely change the feel of the room they are in, as they will end up looking as if they were just installed, and that’s pretty cool, in my book. 

They Don’t Collect Allergens

If you tend to suffer from allergies, then having wood stairs can turn out to be a fantastic thing for you. It’s all because of how you can simply wipe the surface and know that everything that was sitting on there has gone.

This cannot happen with carpet stairs. Allergens will sit deep in the carpet and stay there, so at least you don’t have that issue with wood stairs. 

This does dovetail nicely with the earlier point regarding wood stairs being easy to clean. It’s very easy to keep wood stairs effectively allergen free, and if you do suffer from allergies, then even switching to wood stairs from carpet may result in a significant improvement in your symptoms.

Flexibility in How it Looks

I know people can easily argue that carpet comes in so many different colors and styles that you have flexibility in how it looks, and I admit that’s true. However, the same does apply to wood, and that’s something people often overlook.

You not only have so many different kinds of wood to choose from but also an ever increasing array of stains and varnishes that can really either enhance the natural color of the wood or even give you a completely different color. 

But let’s not just stay with the concept of the color of the wood. Instead, a wood stair can do something that you just cannot achieve with carpet, and that’s the idea of a floating stair.

A floating stair is where you really just have the part you stand on and nothing else. As a result, it makes it look as if everything really is floating in mid-air, and that’s a cool modern look to have.

Of course, this is only possible when you use wood as the carpet will have the join between each stair as that’s the only way it can work.

So, if you want to have more of a modern look, then wood stairs are the way to go. There’s just no competition.

Wood Stairs – The Disadvantages

example of wood stairs and disadvantages

Even though I’ve covered a number of clear advantages associated with wooden stairs, they aren’t always the perfect solution. Instead, some people will see certain things as being more of a disadvantage, which may then push you toward the carpet option that I will cover next.

For me, these are the key points to consider regarding the disadvantages.

  • They just appear to make so much noise with creaking
  • You have no grip on them, at least compared to a carpet
  • Walking barefoot on them can be tough on your feet

They are Noisy

I’m not going to try to dress this up as not being an issue, but wood stairs are noisy. They are noisy when you walk on them, on most occasions anyway, and they will creak and crack from time to time as well.

Now, that noise may not be an issue to you, but it’s certainly something that will happen, and it’s best to be ready for it.

This is all thanks to you not having any padding between your feet and the stair. Carpet manages to muffle the sound by giving you that padding, but it’s clearly absent when walking on hardwood stairs. 

Also, as you plan to leave the stairs bare, there’s not a whole lot you can do about the noise. Actually, about the only thing you can do is to not stomp up and down the stairs with boots on, but going with no shoes on at all can lead to another disadvantage.

They Can Be Slippery

People polish up their stairs and keep them slick, and while that does make them look good, it does lead to another issue: it’s easy to slip on them.

I’m not saying this will always be a potential problem. It’s not the case that you will be dicing with death every single time you go to use the stairs. If that was something that happened, then nobody would have wood stairs in their home as it wouldn’t be worth the risk. 

However, it’s just true to say that you do not get any traction on wood stairs. How could that even be possible when you just have that polished hardwood? Also, each step part is flat, and the stairs are uniform thickness as they need to be perfect as any imperfections will become dangerous.

It’s Not As Comfortable

I’m not going to lie, but wood stairs are not the most comfortable of things to walk on. Again, it all comes down to the material being used and the fact you are walking on nothing more than just wood.

This may not be something that bothers everyone, but it’s certainly something you need to think about, especially if you tend to walk around barefoot. Wood stairs are cold and, from this perspective, at least, pretty uninspiring. 

But overall, I feel that wood stairs do tend to have more advantages than disadvantages. However, it all depends on what you think is important to you when determining if wood stairs are the correct choice for you. Also, choose the wood that fits in with your decor, and make sure you finish it correctly. It just makes such a difference to the finished appearance.

Carpet Stairs – The Advantages

carpet on stairs

I have no doubt that putting carpet on your stairs has its place, and many will see this option as coming with a number of very clear advantages. So, let’s go through them and allow you to then determine if they may affect your decision as to whether or not you want to have carpet in your home.

Regarding the advantages of carpet on your stairs, these are the key points.

  • They are absolutely silent when walking on them
  • They are far more comfortable to walk on
  • They add warmth to a room
  • They offer better safety
  • You can cover old stairs with minimal fuss

It Means No Noise

So the first advantage is that it does help to essentially eliminate noise as you walk up and down stairs. This is clearly due to the fact you are not walking directly on wood, so the carpet acts almost like a sound barrier.

This is certainly something you want to be aware of if noise is indeed an issue. It allows you to move around without the noise then annoying anybody else, and that can certainly be a massive thing in some homes.

It’s especially great when you have small children. They always seem to have no concept of how much noise they can make, so this does eliminate at least one problem as they stomp around on the stairs.

It Can Transform Old and Worn Stairs

If your existing staircase is wood and it looks past its best, resulting in you needing to think about planing it, then adding carpet will freshen it up in an instant. Also, it means you no longer have to worry about trying to get the stairs back to looking something like their best, which can be a tricky challenge. 

By adding carpet, you will completely change the look of your stairs, and it will make them look as if they are new.  This saves you from sanding down wood, fixing chips and dents, and then repolishing them, so it does work out to be significantly quicker as well.

They Will Often Be Safer

Carpet stairs can often be safer to use, and safety may very well be something high on your list of priorities. It’s all to do with traction, and yet I cannot sit here and tell you that you will completely eliminate the possibility of falling. That’s not the case.

However, the carpet does provide you with a substantial amount of grip, and hardwood stairs just cannot compete with that. 

Here is one way of thinking about it.

Let’s say you are carrying a glass of water, and you spill a few drops that you may even be unaware of. That instantly becomes a hazard, and for a good reason, when you spill something on wood stairs. Unfortunately, they can become dangerous at times, especially if the stairs are not perfectly smooth.

With a carpet, it just doesn’t have the same hazard. A few drops of something will quickly be absorbed by the carpet, and it certainly never changes the traction you will get on the stair. 

I certainly feel that thinking about potential hazards will play an important role in your decision-making.

They Add Warmth

Just as wood stairs add a sense of coldness to things, the complete opposite is true of carpet on your stairs. They instantly add a touch of warmth and comfort to the stairs, and this can be fantastic if you want to opt for that cozy feel.

You are completely unable to do that with wood stairs. They lack that warmth and touch to them that you get with carpet, and I see this as being a massive reason why people would go for the carpet option. 

Carpet Stairs – The Disadvantages

stairs with carpet attached

As with wood stairs, carpeting does come with some disadvantages. I think these are the key things you need to think about.

  • They take a lot of cleaning, especially with a large family
  • They damage the stairs underneath
  • They can cause problems if allergens are an issue for you
  • It can end up being pretty expensive at times


Cleaning carpet stairs is both more demanding and more time-consuming than wood stairs. After all, you cannot simply go ahead and mop the carpet and get it spotless. Instead, it’s more of a drawn out and tricky affair, and you do need to set aside a considerable amount of time to get the job done.

Now, most carpet cleaners will come with handheld tools that you can use to work on the stairs, which does make the process that bit easier, but it’s still tough. 


Carpeting stairs can often prove to be surprisingly expensive, and it will generally cost more than people expect. It’s always recommended that you opt for a quality carpet for stairs, and it’s because it will make things safer and also more durable.

This issue of durability is very important. You don’t want to be replacing carpet regularly as it’s a drawn out process and just kind of annoying. I also suggest getting an expert to lay the carpet. You need this to be laid perfectly, or you simply replace one trip hazard for another one, and who wants to be doing that?

Of course, installation costs money, but when it’s directly connected to your possible safety, then surely that’s a price well worth paying? Also, at least you don’t have to cut wood or shape it, so that’s a bit of a saving.

You Will Damage the Wood Below

Thanks to the way carpets are installed on stairs, it does mean you will damage the wood below, and that’s something to keep in mind if you feel you may change back to wood stairs in the future. 

Carpet stairs need to be stuck down well, as you need no movement whatsoever, and that can often mean different processes. A particular strong adhesive may be applied along with industrial staples, and it will all be attached to the wood below.

If you did then decide to remove the carpet, expect a huge job of trying to get the wood back to some sort of reasonable condition. This type of job will push a sander to its limits.

That Allergens Issue

I mentioned allergens as a positive surrounding wood stairs, but it then becomes a disadvantage when looking at carpet stairs. 

I know you can go ahead and do a deep cleaning of the carpet, but some people do suffer from allergies whenever they have carpet in their home. You may think that carpeting on stairs is different from carpeting a lounge, but it’s not. It still results in the same outcome: dust and pollen, and other things, of course, sit deep in the carpet pile, and you suffer as a result.

If you know you struggle with dust and allergens, then having carpets on stairs is going to be an unnecessary addition to your problems. If that’s the case, I would certainly avoid it for obvious reasons.

Which Option is Best?

example of wooden stairs

So far, I’ve shown how both wood and carpet stairs do come with their own set of pros and cons, and while I know it’s entirely up to you to decide which option is best for you, let me give you a few suggestions.

The Rest of the Room Decor

I would always look at the rest of the room decor and what you generally prefer. Keep in mind that a staircase is a large and dominant feature, so it can also determine what the rest of the room looks like as well. 

Yet, I feel you need to be inspired by what else is going on around the staircase. Also, look online to see what others have done when it comes to decor, with whichever option you plan to install in your home.

I think this is one of the key points. You need your stairs to be a real feature in your home rather than simply viewing them as a functional item. 


I would also pay close attention to the upkeep required for each option and for you to decide how big a part you want to play in looking after your stairs. 

Out of the two, I would say that wood stairs are the easiest in this regard. I know you need to take care of the wood, but that’s rare when compared to how often you would be cleaning the carpet. A quick staining of the wood can also reduce how often you need to care for them.

Also, it’s so easy to take a brush over wood stairs to remove dust or even give them a slight mop to try to keep them in pristine condition. Compared to trying to vacuum carpets, even with handheld tools, there’s just no comparison.

But I have to admit that you need to take care of scratches and the potential for dents appearing on wood stairs. I know hardwood is tough, but it can still lead to marks appearing, and they can be difficult to remove. You just don’t have that problem with carpet, as it absorbs pretty much anything you throw at it. 

What is Important?

Aside from the decor aspect, you also need to consider what is important for you when it comes to your stairs. How comfortable do you feel walking on stairs? If you feel concerned about slipping, then clearly, a hardwood stair is not the ideal solution.

But then, there’s also the issue of allergens. You will already know in advance if this is a potential problem you need to avoid. If that is the case, then it does make this a straightforward decision. 

Also, add in the issue of noise and warmth, and when you think about these points, it does mean you tend to get a picture of what’s important to you.

But honestly, it ends up being an easy decision to make when you sit and take everything into consideration.

Overall Conclusion

So those are the different advantages and disadvantages associated with both wood and carpet stairs. As you can see, it does give you food for thought when it comes to trying to choose between either option. However, I would suggest taking each point into consideration and determining how it fits in with your own perceived needs.

But here is an important point. You need to know your stairs are in perfect condition before you even decide to put down carpet. So, these articles should point you in the right direction of the best tools for the job.

Photo of author

Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.