How to install a carpet runner on stairs
A couple of years ago I removed the carpet from our stairs and refinished the stairs. They now ended up looking really worn down, especially after I removed the riser decals. When I sit on the sofa in our living room the stairs are what I look at and it really bothered me lately. I knew it was time to update them again.
When I came across this indoor/outdoor rug for an amazing price while browsing the internet, I decided to just go for it. I was a little disappointed at the beginning that it is much darker than the online photos but now that it has been installed for a while I’m so happy with it. I just have to make sure I don’t add too many brown accessories to our home. Remember the new DIY pendant light I made with jute yarn is also brown.
So let me show you how to install carpet runner on stairs.
How to install carpet runner on stairs without carpet pad
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Some of you might immediately say “Hell no, you can’t do that”, let me just explain…
Can you install a stair runner without a carpet pad?
The rule amongst professionals is definitely to install a stair runner with carpet padding. A carpet pad can help the rug or carpet to stay in place and last longer. It also helps keep the noise down from climbing the stairs. But hey, I love breaking rules. And the 3 reasons I decided to just give it a try without carpet padding are…
- I couldn’t get a small roll of carpet padding at our local home improvement stores and didn’t want to buy a large amount for a higher price and then having all that waste.
- The outdoor rug I bought is super stiff and durable and I think will do fine the way I installed it. If the rug would be a soft wool flat weave like we have in our living room then I could see why a rug pad would definitely be needed. You wouldn’t staple a soft fabric to a floor either because it would shift and move and tear at the staples.
- I didn’t know if my cats would use the stair runner as a giant scratching post and I’d have to end up taking it off again sooner than I thought. So I just wanted to make this project as cheap as possible. (So far they haven’t scratched it at all though!)
I also chose not to use decorative rods for my installation.
- staple gun and air compressor (a standard staple gun is not strong enough)
- stair runner
- strong scissors and utility knife
- double-sided carpet tape
- 1-inch staples
- carpet tucker or putty knife
- tape measure
- flathead screwdriver
- (2×4-inch rug pad for area rug on landing)
Figuring out how many rugs you need to buy
Measure your stairs to calculate how many rugs you need. If you have a landing as I do, don’t forget that area. For the actual stairs, you need to measure the width and depth of the tread, the width and height of the riser, and the curved nose part. Add all of that together and then multiply it by the number of stairs.
The amount of runners needed for the landing depends on what look you are going for. I gathered some examples for you. (I also ordered more of the rug than needed in case I make a mistake.)
stair runner landing ideas
Before I decided what I was going to do on our stair landing, I searched on other blogs to see what they have done. There are many different ways to finish your stair landing and besides it being preferential, the material and pattern of the rug obviously matter as well. (If you want to install your runner with carpet padding then you should check out my friends’ blog posts. They approached it with slightly different methods)
1. Casey of The DIY playbook mitered the rug at a 45-degree angle on her landing. This looks really nice with the striped pattern of the rug.
2. My friend Jamie of JaimeCostiglio.com decided to do a 90-degree seam on the stair landing instead of mitering it the way it was done above. Jamie didn’t want the lines of the stripe to point into the corner.
3. And Ashley of Cherished Bliss skipped putting a rug on her stair landing altogether.
4. I decided to cut a piece of my rug slightly smaller than the stair landing. This way I could simply just lay it down as an area rug on the landing. I used the double-sided carpet tape to just fold the rug over and glue it with the tape. If that doesn’t hold up well, I will get it bound professionally. So far so good though!
I definitely didn’t want to attach any type of carpet/rug or staples to our bamboo flooring which is why I decided to lay it as an area rug.
In case you are wondering why my landing is a different color. Well, that’s the floor we have upstairs. Downstairs we have Karndean vinyl plank flooring which doesn’t come with any type of stair integration.
The stair tread color is the same stain I used previously but in a different color called Sandal.
step-by-step instructions and photos to show how to install the carpet runner on stairs without carpet pad
Before we get to the step-by-step tutorial, I am sharing my video on how I installed the runner rug which I definitely recommend you watch. If you are on a phone or iPad hold it horizontal for better viewing and if it doesn’t load you can also watch it on my YouTube channel instead.
My other blog posts that describe how I refinished the original stairs
- Center rug on stairs and mark the even distance from the sides with a measuring tape and pencil on all treads and risers so you can align the rug as you work.
- Align the rug at the top of the stairs
- Start stapling in the top center of the rug.
- Keep stapling the top outward to the edge of the rug.
- Staple down the side of the runner on both sides.
- Stop stapling before you get to the tread.
- Use a carpet tucking tool (I just used a putty knife) to tightly get the rug into the corner where the riser meats the treads.
- Keep tucking the carpet tightly into the corner while stapling from the center outward.
- Smooth out the carpet on the tread and tuck it under the riser before stapling down the sides of the rug to the tread.
- Use the tucking tool while stapling under the tread.
- Again keep stapling from the center outwards.
- When you run out of rug and need to make a seam, make sure that you match up the pattern of the rug before marking your line with a sharpie. I made sure that my two seams were in the corner where the tread meets the riser. This way it will not be visible at all.
- Cut a strip of double-sided carpet tape to the width of your rug.
- Stick the rug tape to the bottom of the rug.
- Align the second runner piece to the rug pattern and width before firmly pressing it down.
- Carefully tuck the seam into the corner/crease of the stairs.
- Staple the rug on both sides of the seam, not in the center of the seam.
- My rug was thin enough that I could tuck it under at the end of the stairs.
- Staple down the sides over the tucked-in part for a finished edge at the bottom of the riser.
- Staple the end of the runner at the bottom and you are done.
Photos of finished DIY stair runner
We love how the rug looks on the stairs and like I said, so far the cats have left it alone.
Now all I have left to do is finish the wooden railing that my husband stripped for me. I’m considering giving them the same finish as my bleached cherry wood desk makeover.
The view from the sofa up the stairs is so much better now.
If you aren’t new to my blog then you might remember my tassel embellishments for my tassel sconce also made with wood and macrame yarn and used on my boho Christmas tree. Do you see the tassel sconce lampshade?
I found the pagoda-style mirror on Facebook Marketplace and love it on the landing.
To the right when coming down the stairs you can also see my handmade combed macrame yarn wall hanging. It’s one of my favorites and I thought I’d show it again.
Other runner patterns I love and considered
I’m thrilled that spring is finally here and after this Sunday I’m done working my seasonal job at the ski resort. Hopefully, now I have more time to work on projects again. I’d love to repaint our concrete porch. You can learn how to paint stripes on your front porch in my blog post. They’ve held up great but I’m ready for a change.
I think it looks beautiful! Great choice on the runner, loving the pattern.
Thanks so much, Tammara. Hoping it will continue to wear great.
LOVE the new runner! We totally need to do this to our one staircase. It has a runner but I am not a fan.
Have you ever posted about that runner? I can’t remember seeing it. And thank you!
How do you clean this though?
I vacuum it with my small vacuum cleaner.
\We’ve left our stairs bare for two years while I try to decide what to do. This looks beautiful, Julia.
How did it do with the cats?
It’s all holding up great and so far no issues with my cats.