Carpeting a room is fairly straight forward but when stair carpet is involved some new questions arise. When you are installing carpet in your home and you have stairs to consider it is wise to look at all of your options.
Your first consideration is the stairway itself. This is primarily an aesthetic consideration. Do you have an enclosed stairway such as a back stairway off a kitchen or back hall? Or is it an open stairway that is actually a visible part of another room such as a living room or family room? Beautiful wood work can be hidden beneath carpet while at the same time a well installed carpet can hide building imperfections. Your carpet choices would be very different for each of these situations.
Your next consideration would one of functionality. What kind of wear and tear will the carpet get on the staircase? Is the staircase a high traffic area or is it only used a few times a day? How often will you have to clean the carpet? Do you have small children? You may want your carpet to provide cushion on stairs that a small child will have access to.
Installation and Maintenance would be your next considerations. A single piece of carpet that covers both the riser and the floor could be what you want, although pieces of carpet just on the tread allow more of the wood to show. Your carpet will need to be vacuumed on a regular basis and the wood will need to be cleaned. Your carpet choice can affect these maintenance tasks.
Stair treads, or small pieces of carpet just on the stair itself are a less expensive carpeting option for your stairs. This would be a logical choice for a hidden stair case such as back stairs or a small staircase leading to a basement or attic. They provide cushion and safety from slipping but at a much more manageable cost than wall to wall carpet.
Stairs that are visible from other rooms, are a part of a bigger room and get a lot of use are better suited to one piece of carpet that covers both the riser and the stair. They should be securely installed, preferably by a professional to insure that no one trips over a loose area of rug. You can cover the entire width of the stair with carpet which will eliminate the needs to dust and clean small areas of wood or tile that might extend beyond the carpet.
Whatever your specific needs are in regard to carpeting your staircase some thought about what your needs are in the above mentioned areas before you make your purchase will help you top feel good about the carpet you end up with and how it meets both your design and functional needs.