How To Measure Stairs & Landing For Carpet? Step-by-Step Guide

Elwood House 005


In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about measuring a carpet for your stairs, from tips you should keep in mind when measuring to a step-by-step guide of how it’s done.

Tools needed to measure carpet for stairs and landing

The first step of the process is to take precise measurements of your stairs and record them on paper so the carpet manufacturer knows what you need. This part doesn’t require any specialized equipment, but you should have:

  • A notebook for writing all the measurements.
  • Pencil, not pen – you’ll probably be doing a decent amount of erasing and rewriting.
  • Tape measure that has centimetres marked on it. If you’re measuring curved stairs, you may want to opt instead for the more flexible tailor’s measuring tape.
  • A ruler. This will help with some of your measurements and will also make sure you draw straight lines on your plan.
  • A camera to photograph the stairway.
  • Optional: Painter’s tape. This tape is easy to stick on the stairs to keep track of measurements and it doesn’t leave a mark when unstuck.

Tools needed to measure carpet for stairs and landing

Things to Remember When Measuring Stairs for Carpet

A few items to keep in mind when measuring your stairs for carpeting include:

3 Parts to Measure

Remember that you’re measuring 3 parts for each stair:

  1. The tread – this is the flat horizontal part of each step. Remember to measure the tread on the top stair as well!
  2. The riser – this is the vertical flat part of each step.
  3. The nosing – this is the vertical bit that protrudes out over the riser on each step and then curves down to the riser.

Measure from the Top Down

The stairway carpet is installed from the top down, so make sure to present measurements that detail elements at the top of the stairway first.

Measure Your Landings

Be sure to include any half-landings midway up the stairs and the landing at the top of the stairs. Record the width of the landings as well, as you’ll usually want to carpet them along with the stairs.

Include Doors and Alcoves

Make note of the width and depth of any doorways or alcoves that come off of the stairway, as they will affect the size of the carpet.

Tips for accurate measurement of carpet for stairs and landing

A few helpful tips that will make your measurements more useful to the carpet installers include:

Draw and Photograph

Draw a detailed blueprint of your stairway in the notebook you prepared, including all the measurements you took and the locations of all landings and doorways on the stairs.

In addition, photograph different parts of your stairway. The more photos, the better.

Engage a Helper

For accurate measurements, hold the tape measure yourself and note down the numbers.

Measure Each Step Separately

If you have an old house, it’s likely your stair measurements differ slightly between steps. The same goes for curved staircases. In either of these cases (or even in a modern house) you should measure each step separately.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Measuring for Carpet

Don’t fall into any of these traps that are common when measuring stairs for carpets!

  • “Eyeballing it” – Remember that stair measurements need to be extremely precise! You should never take down a measurement without using a tape measure and verifying it.
  • Forgetting about nosing – Neglecting to account for the nosing on each stair, including its curvature, will throw off the entire measurement. The additional measurement may seem small, but it will add up when accounting for every step.
  • Disregarding doorways and alcoves – Irregularities like doorways and alcoves on the stairs often have a huge effect on the size and type of carpeting needed, and we’ve seen lots of cases where people forget to make note of all of them.
  • Only measuring one stair – This one should be obvious, but many people just measure the tread, riser, and nosing for a single step, then multiply it by the number of steps (e.g., ‘x16’ for 16 steps).
  • Doing it yourself (usually) – As mentioned, your carpet installer may come over and measure your stairs for free if you’re planning on buying from them, taking advantage of such a service is a surefire way to avoid mistakes.

Step-by-step guide to measure and calculate carpet for stairs and landing

If you prefer to do the measurement yourself, here is a step-by-step guide.

Step 1. Measure the Stairs

  1. Measure the width of each stair. You should measure at two points on each step: the part close to the nosing and the part close to the riser leading up to the next step. In rare cases, the width of these two parts of the step may differ slightly. Remember to start measuring from the top step.
  2. Measure the depth (tread) of each stair.
  3. Measure the height (riser) of each stair.
  4. Measure the nosing (the edge of each tread that protrudes past the riser) of each stair.
  5. Calculate the total carpet needed for each stair. You should measure each step separately, as the measurements may differ in old houses or on curved stairways.
  6. Add up all the step measurements to get a total.

Step 2. Measure the Landing

  1. Measure the width and length of the landing and of any half-landings on the stairs just as you would measure a normal room.
  2. Calculate the total carpet area needed for the landing(s).

Step 3. Total it up and draw

  1. Total up the amount of carpet you need for stairs and landing.
  2. Add 10% to your total to account for calculation errors. It’s better to order too much carpet than too little. Make sure to note that you added 10%.
  3. Draw a blueprint of your stairs, complete with numbered measurements and any other features like alcoves present on the stairs.

How to Measure Stairs with a Turn for Carpet

For L-shaped stairs, you just need to note in your measurements that the stairs take a 90-degree turn after the landing.

For stairs like spiral staircases that curve without a landing, you need to mark down which steps are curved and mark down the width at the front, back, and longest diagonal for each of those steps. Make sure to take detailed photos in these cases.

How Much Does It Cost to Carpet Stairs and Landing?

Cost varies depending on:

  • Carpet material quality.
  • Carpet measurements (per square meter).
  • Cutting complexity. It will be more if you have a spiral staircase, for example.
  • Staircase design.
31 Ferrars 008
31 Ferrars 008

Read more: Choose best carpet for stair runners

Maintenance Tips for Stair and Landing Carpets

Keeping your stair and landing carpets clean and in good condition is essential. Here are some quick tips:

  1. Regular Vacuuming: Vacuum at least twice a week to remove dirt and prevent wear on carpeted stairs and landings.
  2. Immediate Spot Cleaning: Clean spills and stains right away using a mild carpet cleaner. Blot, don’t rub, to protect the carpet fibres.
  3. Annual Professional Cleaning: Get your stair carpets professionally cleaned once a year to remove deep-seated dirt and allergens.
  4. Use Doormats: Place doormats at entrances to reduce the amount of dirt brought into your home.
  5. Protect High-Traffic Areas: Use carpet runners or mats on stairs to minimise wear and extend the life of your carpet.

Read more: Carpet and rug maintenance.

Choosing the Right Carpet for Stairs and Landing

The stairs and landing likely get more use than any other floor in the house, so durable carpeting materials like wool or tencel are best. For more tips, head over to our post about choosing the best carpet.

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