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I will have hardwood on my first floor and carpet on the stairs and 2nd floor. My question is: regarding the transition, is it better to carpet the stairs first and then do the hardwood (as to avoid tucking the carpet in and risk making a mistake with the distance of hardwood to the first stair) or the other way around?

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If you do the carpet first, it might make it difficult to remove later when the carpet wears out (or goes out of style). – Tester101 Feb 11 '13 at 19:08
can the carpet be cuffed where it meets the hardwoord so as to have a graceful transition? – amphibient Feb 11 '13 at 19:09

Generally carpet is self edging,while hardwood floors are not (they usually gap from the wall a bit and call for a molding over the edge).

Install the floor and leave the gap at the first riser, without a molding, and bring the carpet down the riser and blind edge it. You can easily undo it in the future. This would allow you to replace the carpet, as Tester101 says, or to shift back to no carpet. Just add molding.

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