Measuring stairs if you have never done it before can be a little tricky and needs to be done correctly so that you purchase the exact amount of carpet you need and minimise any waste.
This is coupled with the fact that there are different types and shapes of stairs so knowing how to measure each is essential.
To find out all you need to know about how to measure stairs for carpet, read on below.
Why is Measuring Stairs Tricky?
When measuring a room it’s quite straightforward in that you measure the width and length and then multiply them to give a square footage or area in square metres which you can then use to work out how much carpet you need.
For any odd shaped rooms such as L-shapes you simply break the 2 parts of the room into separate rectangles, measure them and add them together, either way it’s very straightforward.
However with stairs it’s not that simple as you have to measure many different areas including the hallway and landing (if you are carpeting them also) and the whole staircase and then add them altogether to work out how much carpet you need.
But that’s not the end of it. If you have a straight run of stairs then that’s not too bad you can measure one tread and riser and work out the length, but if you have a half landing or curved stairs then each of these elements has to be measured individually.
So if you have a curved stairs and you’re doing the landing and hallway that’s a lot of area o measure and work out!
What to Think About When Measuring Stairs
When measuring stairs for carpet there are quite a few things to consider and do to ensure that your measurements are accurate and once the carpet has been laid, you’re not left with a load of offcuts and waste, here are the most common:
- To keep track of what measurement is for what, draw a plan of all the areas you’re measuring and then mark each measurement on it for what it is
- To accurately measure curved stairs and half landings each part of the curve or landing needs to be measure separately at it’s widest point
- When measuring the widths and lengths of hallways and landings always take at least 3 measurements along the length or width. This is due to the fact that it may look straight and level but very often isn’t and even if you’re off by a few millimetres this can make a big difference
- Where there are doors and alcoves, also measure the width and depth of each of these and record them on your plan
- When measuring a staircase always measure form the top to the bottom
- If each tread of your staircase features a nose (a small protrusion of the tread past the riser e.g. not a exact 90° turn) then you will need to add 25mm to each of the tread, riser measurements you take for your stairs detailed below. This is to ensure there’s enough carpet to roll around the nose overhang
You may think this is an odd point to flag up but in actual fact it is very important. One of the most important rules when laying carpet is that the pile must run in the same direction when running form room to room, down the stairs etc.
If you have the pile of one section of carpet running horizontally and where it meets the landing or hallways, the pile of the carpet in this area is running vertically it will be immediately obvious, in fact in some situations even though the carpet may be the same it will look completely different.
Additionally, where the carpet pile is running in different directions it can wear at different rates as well, especially if the pile is running against the flow of traffic.
On this note, another must is to ensure that the pile runs in the direction of the flow of traffic. If it doesn’t then the carpet will most certainly wear out much quicker than it would have if the pile was running in the correct direction with the flow of traffic.
What this ultimately means is that in some situations, depending on the size, shape and orientation of the rooms you are intending to carpet, it may be the case that you end up having to buy much more carpet than you need.
For instance, if you have a landing that is 2m wide by 4m long and a room that is 4m x 4m the you may be tempted to by a length of carpet 4m wide by 6m long as this would then give you a 4m x 4m square for the room and a 2m x 4m length for the landing.
However in this scenario the pile of the carpet on the landing would run across the space against the traffic flow and the pile of the carpet in the room would run with the traffic but at 90° to the landing carpet.
If you are happy for this to happen and can live with it, that’s great, it will save you a fair amount of money and wastage, but as said, it will be noticeable and will probably wear much faster.
In terms of this scenario, the solution would be to buy 2 sections of 4m x 4m carpet, one for the room and one for the landing and then a 2m wide strip would be cut from the landing section. This way you can then have the pile running in a uniform direction between the 2 rooms. The downside is that you would also have a 2m x 4m strip of waste carpet!
On the flip side to this, if you are carpeting more rooms then you may be able to use this wastage in another room e.g. a built in wardrobe, cupboard or similar. In smaller spaces such as these the direction of the pile isn’t as important and noticeable so you may be able to get away with using offcuts and waste.
How to Measure Stairs, Hallways and Landings for Carpet
Now that we know exactly what needs to be considered when measuring carpet for stairs we can look at exactly how to measure carpet for hallways and landings and also the various different types of stairs.
How to Measure a Landing for Carpet
To measure the area of your landing for carpet, work through the following steps:
- The first job is to draw a plan of the landing area, detailing any alcoves, doorways etc. and also where the stairs runs down to the ground floor
- Measure the width of the landing area, remembering to take 3 different measurements across the width and also measure into doorways by the amount of existing carpet. If there isn’t any currently allow for the depth of the door frame plus a couple inches
- Measure the length of the landing area, again take several measurements across the length to compensate for any out of level walls
- One final point in terms of landings is that you need to include the first step down, the nose and also the first riser as landing carpets always run down the first step of a stair case and then the stairs carpet continues down from there
If you have an odd shaped landing e.g. a L-shape then there is 2 ways to measure this:
- 1. Measure the width at the widest point e.g. to the L and use this for the width and then measure the length to work out the size of the whole area including the cut out. At the point the carpet is laid the cut is cut away as wastage or to be used elsewhere
- 2. Break the area into 2 parts, which will be a large rectangle and a smaller one and measure the width and length of each one and add them together to work out the exact size. This way you will avoid wastage but you may end up with having to lay the carpet with the piles running against each other
Measuring a Straight Staircase for Carpet
When it comes to measuring stairs, measuring a straight staircase is about the easiest types of stairs to measure as I’m sure you can understand as it’s perfectly straight.
To measure a straight flight of stairs for carpet work through the following steps (no pun intended!):
- First, draw a plan of your staircase including the exact number of steps that make it up
- Starting at the top, measure from the back of the first tread (where the landing carpet finishes) to the front of that tread, over the nose (the front edge) and then down the riser to the next tread. Add 25mm to this measurement to cover running the carpet around the nose if your steps feature one. Record this measurement on your plan. Next, measure the width of the tread and record this on your plan. Repeat this for all the remaining treads, marking them on your plan
- To work out exactly how much carpet you need, take the tread and riser measurements for each step and add them together to give you a total length of carpet needed and then use the widest width measurement taken for the width
- If you need to work out the area of carpet needed, multiply the tread/riser measurement by the width for each step and then add all the results together for a total area in square metres
Measuring a Curved or Winding Staircase for Carpet
Measuring a curved staircase for carpet is a little different to measuring a straight staircase. As you may imagine it’s the curved or winding part that causes the issues.
Read on below to find out how to measure a curved or winding staircase for carpet:
- First start by drawing a rough plan of your winding staircase including the exact number of straight steps and exact number of winding steps
- start at the top of the stairs and first tread and work down measuring each step and you go. Measure from the back of the first tread (where the landing carpet stops) to the front of that tread, over the nose (the front edge) and then down the riser to the next tread. If your treads have a nose add 25mm to this measurement. Mark these on your plan. Next measure the width of each step and mark on your plan. Repeat this for all of the straight steps, but not for any winding steps
- The winding section of a staircase, with most stairs, will be 3 sections and each sections needs to be measured individually. To measure the first curved step, measure from the back corner (deepest part) to the front, over the nose and down to the next tread and mark measurement on your plan. To measure the width, measure from the inner corner along the nose to the furthest point
- For the middle winding step, measure from the deepest part of the tread to the front and over down the riser. Record this measurement. For the width measure from the inner corner out to the furthest and widest corner and record this measurement
- For the final winding step, starting from the back of the widest part of the tread measure forwards down over the nose, down the riser to the next tread. For the width, measure from the inner corner, along the nose to the furthest point
- Remember to add 25mm to each of the tread and riser measurements to cover the carpet needed to fold around the nosing if your stairs has one. If not, don’t add this
- Next, add up all of the tread/riser measurements together to give you a total length of carpet for your stairs and for the width, use the widest measurement that you took whilst measuring each step. Tis is the length and width of carpet you need
- However, if you need to calculate the area in m2, for the winding steps multiply width x depth and record the numbers. Next do the same for the straight steps
- Add all of the measurements up to give you the total area of carpet needed
Measuring a Half Landing or Mid-Landing for Carpet
A half-landing is a little bit like a winding section of stairs however as opposed to 3 or more steps to form the bend only 1 large step is used hence the name a half-landing.
To measure a staircase with a half landing for carpet, measure each individual tread as stated in the instructions above, starting at the top first and measuring from the back of the first tread to the front, over the nose and down the riser and then recording each measurement.
Once you’ve recorded the depth, measure the width of each step at its widest point and record this. Repeat this for all steps except the half landing section.
To measure the half landing, measure from the very back to the front and over the nose and down the riser, record this measurement and then measure the width at the widest point and record it.
Add up all of the tread and riser measurements, including that of the half landing section to give you the total length of carpet needed. As for the width, use the widest width measurement.
If you need a total area then for each step and the half landing multiply the width by the depth and then add all the results together.
How to Measure a Hallway for Carpet
Measuring a hallway area for carpet is very much the same as measuring a landing area, with a few subtle differences:
- As before start by drawing a plan of your hallway area including any and all doorways, alcoves, cupboards etc. and also where the stairs enter the hallway
- Measure the width of the hallway over 3 different locations and mark this on your plan, making sure that you measure at the widest point e.g. from inside each doorway the full width of the door frame and the same on eth opposing side, if there is a door. Add 50mm for each doorway to cover any joints required
- Repeat the same for the length of the hallway, taking several different measurements across the length to account for any uneven and out of level walls. Again ensure that you measure into any doorways if there are any
- Once you have both sets of measurements take the widest and longest from each and this is the length and width of carpet you need
- If you need to work out the area then you will need to multiply the width by the length
If you have an odd shaped hallway e.g. a L-shape then as above, there are a few different ways to calculate the total area, the first being use the widest point and the longest length and then multiplying the 2 for the total area and at the point of laying the unwanted section is cut away for use elsewhere.
However the other method as we have stated above is to break the area into 2 individual rectangles, calculate the area of each and then add them together to give a total area.
Measuring Bullnose Steps
Although not a common feature in many homes the bullnose step normally appears at the bottom of a staircase and appears as effectively a bottom step that’s much larger than all other steps and allows for more space to enter the stairs
Available in a variety of different shapes and sizes, most appear at the base of a straight staircase in period properties.
Measuring them is a fairly straigh forward process. As with other steps, measure from the back of the tread to the front, over the nosing and down the riser to what should be the floor. As you can see this is pretty much the same.
The difference comes when measuring the width and to do this you need to measure the curve of the riser around the front of the step. To do so, measure from the edge nearest the wall around the front of the curve to where the step ends.
Once you know all you need to know about how to measure carpet for your stairs, teh next job is to purchase exactly what you need and once you have the carpet you’ll need to fit it. To find out how to fit carpet on your stairs see our project here.
Measuring a staircase for carpet is a fairly straight foward job once you know exactly which parts of the stairs you need to measure and the same goes for both hallways and landings, but in order to purchase the correct amount of carpet for the area you need to cover, ensuring you have enough but not too much it’s an essential job to know how to do.