Last month we installed a carpet for a spiral staircase and decided sharing it in a blog post would be the perfect opportunity to explore the dynamics involved in carpeting a set of stairs that isn't straight.
10 York is a new condominium building soaring 224 m (735 ft) into the Toronto skyline. A spiral staircase dramatically connects the fitness centre to the rooftop pool deck. It comprises two flights of curving stairs with a landing between them. Detailed planning was key to working out how much carpet was needed and how it would be cut.
The design of the carpet
While we would have been happy to create a custom design, the client (II BY IV DESIGN) browsed our website online and selected Shard from the Arctic Collection. This design was originally created to be a wool and silk handknotted area rug but - as is possible with all our designs - we adapted it for a totally different fibre and function. The initial Shard design is in blue and white but we changed and expanded the colours to ones that work with the finishes in the fitness centre.
Artwork for floorcoverings needs to be changed into the proper design file format for the particular mill it is being sent to. At Creative Matters we always manage this process at our end, so we can assure the translation is accurate and reflects the look the client is going for.
The quality of the carpet
For this project we recommended the dye-injected or handtufted quality, although in the past we have also used other methods such as flat woven or Aubusson for spiral staircases. Handtufted, as its name suggests, is a carpet made by hand where the artisan punches wool into canvas using a special tool. Conversely, dye-injected is machine-made base carpet to which colour is applied using a sophisticated dye injection method. Both qualities are durable and suited to the heavy traffic of a fitness centre. As you would expect, the handtufted carpet is more costly because it's made by hand.
II BY IV DESIGN decided dye-injected carpet was a better fit in terms of practicality and budget at 10 York. The 100% nylon carpet base was manufactured and dye-injected with the Shard design in Denmark. It was then shipped in a 4-metre (13' 2") wide roll to our warehouse in Toronto where it was very carefully cut to size. Had the client selected handtufted carpet, it would have been woven in individual pieces, one for each step.
The size and shape of the carpet
This is the most complex part of creating a carpet for a spiral staircase. Unlike an straight staircase, each step may be a different size, so each step and riser has to be considered its own little carpet.
In our studio we assembled an accurate diagram so we knew how much carpet to order, but our installation company was ultimately responsible for cutting the separate pieces that cover each step and riser. To ensure accurate dimensions and allow for the curves, they first went to the site and created paper templates on the stairs themselves. Our installer had to create a template for each combined step and riser, and one for the landing.
At the warehouse, our installer cut out each step/riser combo from the large pieces of carpet using their templates and they finished the edges. Back at the site, they installed each piece separately. We typically request the “tackless” method of installation which uses wooden strips with fine metal grips. These are installed at the base where the riser meets the step. Each carpet piece is stretched over each step and riser, then tucked into the tackless. Staples are also used to secure the carpet in place.
Our next most recent carpet for a spiral staircase was in March 2017 for The Loren at Pink Beach in Bermuda. Because this staircase comprises treads only (no risers), it involved different design and installation techniques. (Click here to read more about our nine carpets for The Loren.)
It's particularly interesting to work on a spiral staircase - they are really challenging even for the highly-experienced floorcovering designer. Because they are so specific, our President Carol Sebert likens the detailed work on the spiral's carpets to that of tailoring a man's suit. But once the carpet is finally installed, it is such a delight to see how it all comes together and walk upon its twirling steps.