Step by Step

(By Christopher Drake -- Getty Images)
By Terri Sapienza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 8, 2007

I have, of late, become obsessed with the stairs in my house. In the midst of some minor remodeling, we decided to replace the tired carpet runner on the staircase and the wall-to-wall in the hallway upstairs.

No big deal, right? Wrong.

I'm usually a pretty confident decorator, especially when it comes to my own home, a rowhouse just north of Georgetown. But the moment I started searching for stair and hall carpeting I came to a full stop. While flipping through the 30th carpet board in a local rug store, I realized there were too many choices and too little consensus on how to choose. What kind of carpeting stands up to daily wear and an energetic dog? Should I stick with a runner, or cover the whole stair tread? Should I forget about natural fibers such as sisal, which looks so wonderful in magazines but gets thumbs down on safety and cleanability? If I choose a color and pattern that harmonizes with rooms downstairs, does it have to work just as well upstairs?

When I turned to relatives, friends and colleagues for advice, everyone offered conflicting opinions. We did agree on one thing, though: Choosing carpeting for stairs and halls can be surprisingly bewildering. So I've turned to some experts -- designers, retailers and textile professionals -- to step up to our questions.

Read more:

Choosing for long wear, easy care

Design advice from the pros

Figuring carpet measurements and costs

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