Many families require that their main steps have some kind of padding on them so that members of the household don't slip on the hardwood. Whether you have smaller children who get a little rowdy when running around the house or an elderly family member who already has trouble keeping their balance, you don't want to increase the risk of injury by leaving the stairs uncovered.
However, carpeting tends to make a staircase appear a little more cramped, especially when you utilize full carpets on the steps. For smaller staircases, even a runner may make the walkway feel too claustrophobic.
In tighter stairways, consider using simple pads on the treads that adhere to each step to prevent slipping. These are essentially really small area rugs that take up a limited amount of space on the step without covering the riser or even the majority of the staircase.
These treads can be as subtle or elaborate as you'd like them to be, without dominating the look of the staircase. One of the more popular styles is a tightly woven berber, as these smaller carpets provide perfect grip underfoot and can handle the wear and tear of heavy traffic.
Choosing a color or pattern for these treads is relatively easy, as you generally won't want to pick a design that distracts from the natural materials of the staircase. If you have lightly stained wood stairs, a softer tone will blend in with the design perfectly. However, it is important to remember that these treads will need to bear the brunt of potentially dirty shoes or feet, so too light a color scheme may not hide stains very well.
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