Our Home over 6 years ago by Liz Adams

Our DIY Stair Runner Tutorial

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Madewell Jeans, Madewell Tee, Topshop Cardigan (old, similar here), BORN Loafers

I’m finally sharing the step by step tutorial we used for our stair runner! Ok so we can’t take credit for this stair runner tutorial at all. When we moved into our house the stairs were bare and we knew we needed a little padding with a toddler and a babe on the way. After getting a few ridiculous quotes for installing a runner, knowing we would have heavy traffic with no bathroom on the main floor and feeling inspired to do it ourselves we turned to our friends at Annie Selke for help. 

We used this step by step stair runner installation tutorial with three Herringbone Indoor/Outdoor runner rugs in grey. I wanted to use an indoor/outdoor fabric to ensure it was a little more durable and the fabric has some stretch to ensure it fits tightly to each step. We bought these rug pads and cut them to size to fit each stair before laying down the rugs (we have very creaky floors and this helps!). We bought a heavy duty carpet staple gun, a Bolster Chisel to ensure the carpet was taut and secured around each step (this is essential!), double sided carpet tape and heavy duty fabric scissors. You’ll also want a yard stick to keep everything in line! Dave pretty much laid everything down (I helped cut and prep everything), he has way more patience and is way more meticulous when it comes to home stuff, and it probably took us a total of 6 hours to complete. You’ll definitely want two people because one person should hold the carpet as tight and smooth as possible while the other one staples! Here is the step by step tutorial thanks to Annie Selke:

DIY Stair Runner Tutorial

What you’ll need:
•  Dash & Albert woven cotton or indoor/outdoor stair runner of your choice; measure your stairs first to determine the total length needed (see step 1)
•  2’ x 8’ rug pads; measure your stairs first to determine the total length needed (see step 1)
•  Fabric scissors
•  Pneumatic staple gun
•  3/8-inch to 1/2-inch staples
•  Tape measure
•  Yardstick or other straight edge
•  Double-stick carpet tape
•  Pencil
•  Marker
•  Bolster chisel
•  A little patience

1. To determine how long a runner you’ll need, measure the depth of the stair tread and the height of the riser. Multiply the total by the number of stairs; this is your total runner length.

2. Measure the width of the treads from end to end, or from end to banisters. Mark the middle with a pencil.

3. Create individual rug pads for each stair tread by fitting the top edge of the pad against the back of the tread and gently straightening it.

4. Mark the cut line on the pad about .5 inches from the front of the stair tread. (Note that the runner will be slightly wider than the rug pad, and thus the edges of the rug pad won’t peek out from underneath.) Cut the rug pad along the line with fabric scissors. Measure and cut as many rug pads as needed to cover all treads.

5. Cut three pieces of double-stick carpet tape to fit the two outer edges and the middle of each rug-pad tread cover. Place them on the rug pad, making sure to align two pieces of the tape with the outer edges of the pad.

6. Fold the cut rug pads in half, preferably tape side out, to find the center.

7. Place the rug pads, tape side down, onto each tread, aligning the center fold with the pencil marks you created in the middle of each tread. Press with your hands to smooth out any bubbles.

8. Subtract the width of the runner from the width of the stair treads; the difference is the amount of space you’ll leave on each side of the runner. You can mark these points to make them easier to follow. Important: As you install the runner, periodically check this measurement to ensure that the runner remains straight all the way down.

9. Align the top of the runner with the bottom edge of the first tread. This creates a cleaner, less bulky look than going all the way over the top of the first tread, and eliminates “floating” pieces at the top of the stairs.

10. Using a pneumatic staple gun, staple the runner in place at its top edge, approximately every 3 inches. Be sure to include staples on both of the outer edges.

11. Use a bolster chisel to pull the runner taut against the corner of the riser and the next tread. Staple against the bottom of the riser approximately every 3 inches, including both of the outer edges. If you’re using a striped runner, step back and check to make sure the stripes are straight before moving on.

12. For a “waterfall”-style installation, which is a bit easier, simply pull the loose end of the runner over the edge of the next stair tread and repeat step 10.

13. For stair treads that have bullnoses, you can also do a “wrap”-style installation. Pull the loose end of the runner over the edge of the tread and use the bolster chisel to pull it taut around the bullnose. Staple underneath the bullnose against the riser approximately every 3 inches, including both the outer edges.

14. Repeat steps 9 through 11 or 12, until you reach the end of your first runner. Leaving about a 2-inch piece for overlap, cut off any remnant of runner, including the finished edge, to reduce bulk.

15. Overlap the 2-inch scrap of runner with the second runner, being careful to align the outer edges of the runners.

16. Begin the stapling process again.

17. When you get to the bottom stair, pull the runner taut against the bottom riser with the bolster chisel, then measure an extra 2 inches of runner. Mark, and cut with fabric scissors.

18. Fold under the extra 2 inches of runner, and staple the double layer of fabric against the bottom of the riser, approximately 3 inches apart, including both the outer edges.

See Annie Selke’s full blog post for step by step photos of the entire process!

Note: This carpet is not as heavy duty as we would like, meaning it probably won’t last us forever. You can also see some of the staples if you look really hard. It’s definitely not 

Shop my look:
Madewell Jeans, Madewell Tee, Topshop Cardigan (old, similar here), BORN Loafers