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Why Are My Carpeted Stairs Slippery [And What To Do About It]?

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Covering your staircase is a good way to save money on home renovations, add a layer of safety, and help you retain more heat during the colder months. However, carpet can still be just as slippery as hardwood floors in the right conditions, making your carpeted stairs a hazard if it loses traction.

If your carpeted stairs are slippery, this could be due to a build-up of dirt, grime, and debris settling on your stairs. It could also indicate that your stairs are wet and need to be cleaned and dried immediately. Slippery stairs could also indicate the type of carpeting material you are using is too fine to be used for everyday use on a high-traffic staircase.

Modern home staircase carpet in grey color. Abstract backgrounds and textures - Why Are My Carpeted Stairs Slippery [And What To Do About It]

Signs Your Carpeted Stairs are Slippery

It can be difficult to determine whether or not your stairs are truly slippery, or if you're simply off-balance. Below are some subtle signs that it isn't you, but your carpet that is leading to tumbles:

  • More than one family member slips on the stairs
  • The carpet is slippery with or without socks on
  • Your carpet looks damaged or stained in the areas that are slippery
  • Your carpet feels worn down and slick when you run your hands over it

If you experience any or all of these, it's time to address your slippery carpet issue. 

What is Causing my Carpet to Be Slippery?

Wide shot low angle of of staircase up from basement in luxury house that is floored with baige color carpet with single wooden rail on the left

There are a plethora of reasons for why your carpet is slippery. Your carpet might begin to be slippery due to:

Build-up of dust. Generally, even ceramic surfaces that are completely clean and free of debris are not slippery. However, studies have shown that dust and debris like concrete can even cause a surface to become slippery. If your carpet is covered in dust and has had minimal cleaning done to it, this could be causing your stairs to be a hazard.

Incorrect installation. There are very specific installation requirements for rugs, which include firmly stretching the carpet over the nose of the stair and placing the pile of the stairs going up instead of down to prevent trips and falls. If your carpet has not been properly installed, loose carpeting can lead to slipping and falling.

Wrong materials. Although plush carpet is beautiful and comfortable to place on a floor, it is generally not the best material to use for stairs. High-pile carpets can lead you to lose your footing and take a tumble. 

Worn out carpet. If your carpet is worn out and the pile begins to lose traction, this can lead to a more slick and slippery feeling. This can also lead to your carpet ripping its fibers open, as seen in this picture. Before that happens, you will notice your stairs becoming more and more slippery.

Really tatty carpet on a dark staircase, with holes and wear. In need of recarpeting. Trip hazard

Why You Need to Address Slippery Stairs ASAP

It's estimated that over 1 million Americans injure themselves on stairs every single year. Worst of all, these slips and falls occur in any age range, making it difficult to completely avoid.

These slips and falls can lead to devastating consequences, including concussions, spinal injuries, broken bones, neck and back pain, and these slips and falls can even be fatal!

It's best to avoid all of these by simply updating your carpet so it isn't so slippery or leads to an accident. 

How to Fix Your Slippery Carpet

There are a wide range of solutions to fixing your slippery carpet. These quick fixes can help add traction to your carpet, update the look of your stairs, and prevent accidents.

Add a Stair Tread

Perhaps the easiest solution is to add a stair tread or stair protector to your carpet. These treads available here on Amazon are easy to install and fit over your existing carpet. If your carpet is too plush or worn down, you can install these easily over the top. Make sure you choose the right size by taking accurate measurements of the length and width of your stairs. 

Add More Agressive Grip

This grip available on Amazon can help add grip to the end of your stairs, so you don't have to worry about slipping and falling whether or not you have shoes on or not. Keep in mind, this is a rather permanent grip, so make sure you're fully devoted to installing it onto your staircase beforehand. 

Switch the Materials Of your Carpet

If you want to completely redo your carpet, make sure to use the best carpeted materials for your stairs. Low-pile carpet is the best material to use for stairs, at a height of 1/2 inch or less.

The lower the pile, the more durable and the more resistant to staining and slipping the carpet will be. 

In addition, carpet should also be made using certain styles, including:

Samples of a multi-colored carpet, an example of pile and carpet color

  • Low cut pile carpets with textured plush. These types of carpets are made of fibers that are twisted tightly and placed directly upright with the ends cut off. These are the most traditional types of carpet materials, but it's important to make sure they are also textured so as to avoid fine materials that are prone to slipping. These include materials like Saxony or velvet carpet.
  • Loop pile carpets made of high-quality materials. Loop pile carpets are generally more durable than cut pile carpets, but they can wear down and catch walkers since they are made of loops seamed together to create the carpet surface. Pets can also get their nails caught going down the stairs on this carpet. To prevent these issues, use a loop-pile carpet made of durable materials and from a trusted brand, such as Berber.

Shell wall,the wall used oyster'shell made it.

Clean Your Carpet Regularly

If your stairs are high-traffic, it's important to clean your carpet regularly by using either a spot cleaner for your carpet, a professional-grade carpet washer, or simply by calling for professional assistance. 

If you are physically unable to move up and down the stairs to clean your own carpet, there's nothing wrong with reaching out to a professional carpet cleaner to get rid of the slippery feeling and clean away dust and debris.

However, you can also clean your carpet by:

  1. Vacuuming the stairs first using a hand-held vacuum that gets into the crevices of your carpeted stairs.
  2. Use a carpet cleaning spray or a bucket of warm water with baking soda to spray stains or slippery areas on your carpet. This spray on Amazon is affordable and a good choice for carpeted stairs.
  3. Take a small brush or something with bristles to drive the carpet cleaning solution deep into the fibers. Use small circles to get stubborn stains.
  4. Use a microfiber cloth (not a paper napkin, since the paper fibers will create a mess) to clean away any excess foam and lift the stain and dust off the carpet.
  5. Let the cleaner air dry or go over the stairs with your vacuum again.

Do this at least once a week to keep your carpets looking brand new and preventing trip hazards.

Final Thoughts

Carpet is a beautiful and durable material that can help keep your feet warm, add style, and prevent slips and falls from traditional hardwood floor stairs. Make sure you're using a high-quality carpeting material that is durable, low-pile and holds firm to help prevent slips and falls.