How to Choose Carpet for High-Traffic Areas

Audrey Bruno
Written by Audrey Bruno
Updated August 18, 2021
Mom and baby on carpet
JGI/Tom Grill via Getty Images

The right carpet can make your high-traffic areas look pristine even if they see a ton of feet

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High-traffic areas of a home, like staircases and hallways, have to go through a lot. But the right carpet can keep them looking as good as new, no matter how much action they see. A handful of factors—like the materials a carpet is made with and how it’s made—will help you determine if a rug is up to snuff. With the tips in this guide, you’ll know what to expect from your new carpet installation.

1. Get to Know the Best Carpet Styles for High-Traffic Areas

Carpet comes in many different styles, which are also known as piles in the carpet world. Some are long and flowy, others short and stubby, and not all are ideal for high-traffic settings.

Low-Pile Carpet

This type of carpet is always less than 0.25 inches in height, making it easy to maintain, resistant to stains, and especially suitable for busy areas in your home. After all, shorter strands of yarn mean fewer spots for trapping dust and debris. They have a smooth, flat feel, are available in many different materials, colors, and patterns, and are less prone to wrinkling than other carpet styles.

Twist-Pile Carpet

This style twists longer strands of yarn to create a plush, protective carpeting. Frieze is another type under this umbrella that relies on especially long yarn for an extra luxurious feel. It’s often chosen for commercial use because of just how long-lasting it can be.

Level Loop Pile

This style applies glue to both the top and bottom of the carpet to ensure that each strand of yarn is exactly the same height. The extra layer of security from the glue also helps it resist stains, though it isn’t as comfortable as some of your other options.

Textured Carpet

This type of carpet uses strands of varying length to create a surface that’s both eye-catching and durable. It shows fewer footprints than other varieties, making it perfect for spots that see a lot of foot traffic.

Berber Carpet

This densely woven carpet style is great for your staircases and hallways because it won’t shed or tuft easily and it will add a little something special to these spaces. The only downside to this option is that it’s more expensive than the rest. On average you’ll pay $5 per foot to have it installed.

2. Select the Carpet Fibers That Can Handle a Lot of Use

Carpet on stairway
John Keeble / Moment via Getty Images

Each of the best carpet styles for high-traffic areas can be made with any kind of material. These are your best options for those busy spots.


This material is a favorite for high-traffic areas for a number of reasons. It’s resistant to mildew and mold, so it’ll keep unwanted odors at bay—you know, in case one of your pets decides to drag in something unsavory. It’s also strong enough to endure the never-ending steps it’ll see in the most congested areas of your home. Its one downside is that it can create static, but it can be treated with anti-static before or after installation.


This material is an affordable option that’s moisture- and stain-resistant. But whether or not it will pass the test in your high traffic zones depends on how it’s put together. You’ll get the most use out of polyester if it’s made with a lower pile or high twist count.


Olefin is another inexpensive option that’s resistant to moisture as well as easy to maintain. It’s also softer than nylon, but less durable, too. Luckily, it can be pre-treated to resist fading. Just be sure to keep it away from anything hot, as it’s highly susceptible to burning when near high temperatures.


Made from a cactus plant, sisal is stronger and longer-lasting than other natural fibers. Its rough texture is both sturdy and stylish, and can be used both in and outside. But it’s also not the most comfortable option.

3. Don’t Forget to Factor in Density and Weight

In general, heavier, denser carpets will do a better job of keeping dirt, stains, and tears to a minimum. Most carpet will weigh between 25 and 50 ounces per square yard, so try to choose an option that’s on the higher end of this range to ensure you have what you need.

4. Opt for Forgiving Carpet Colors to Camouflage Spills and Dirt

Save the whites, greys, and bright colors for spots in your home where you can actually enjoy them and stick with darker tones in high-traffic areas. Lighter tones will make it impossible to ignore even the smallest of stains, which will inevitably happen in these busy places. Opting for a darker color will also add a nice contrast to the parts of your home with lighter carpet and save you from having to choose between dry and steam cleaning your carpet as often. You may even find that you actually prefer the balance the two tones bring.

5. Consider Options With Added Treatments

If you have pets or kids running up and down the stairs every five minutes, it might be worth the extra mile to get your new carpet treated—at least in the most chaotic spots in your home. Treatments are available for stain, moisture, and dander resistance, though usually at an extra cost. On the other hand, they will make pricey carpet cleanings less necessary, so you may end up saving in the long run.

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