Along with entrances and exits, stairways are some of the most heavily trafficked areas of the home. You and your family probably go up and down the stairs a dozen times a day, and if there is carpeting underfoot, that can lead to a lot of wear and tear. Fortunately, there are many options for dealing with a carpeted stairway that has seen better days.

Study the carpeting on your stairs. What kind of condition is it in? Is it just soiled and stained? Give it a good cleaning. Fill up a bucket with warm water, grab a bottle of carpet cleaner and a scrub brush, and get busy. For a deeper cleaning, you might want to rent a steam cleaner or hire a carpet cleaning service.

For carpet beyond cleaning, replacement might be your best bet. This can be costly, but if you live in an area with cold weather or with young children or seniors prone to falls, it is worth considering. Tramping up and down hard, cold steps is never fun, and falls down hard steps can lead to serious injury. Bring warmth, comfort and cushioning to your stairs with new carpet. You can opt for wall-to-wall carpeting or a runner, though with a runner, you may have to have the stairs refinished.

While nice, carpeted stairs can be difficult to keep clean. Along with regular vacuuming, you may have to do a deeper cleaning from time to time. If you’re not one for hauling the vacuum cleaner or steam cleaner up and down the stairs, consider some alternatives. Many homeowners these days are replacing the carpet on their stairs with hardwood. Although expensive to install, hardwood is durable and easy to clean. Laminate is a more affordable option, and like hardwood, it is easy to clean. Just sweep and dust with a wet-dry mop.

If hardwood and laminate are not your style, paint is another option. Paint is very affordable and offers endless possibilities. You can open up the space by painting the stairs white. You can brighten up the space with bolder paint color choices and freehand designs. You can add some whimsy to the space with stenciled or tiled stairs. Just paint the stairs whatever color you want and stencil in some designs or apply tile to the risers. Tiled risers are a feature in many homes of the Southwest. For those concerned about falling on slick, painted stairs, carpet tiles are available for the treads.

The sky is the limit when it comes to transforming your stairs. Rethink that tired, worn carpet. New carpet. Hardwood. Paint. It’s your choice, and depending upon the route you take, you might just cut down your cleaning time.

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