How to Install Stair Runners

How to Install Stair Runners

Stair runners are the perfect solution for anyone looking to make their staircase safer and comfier. Learn how to install your own with our guide.


Stairs. We love ‘em. They’ve given us the ability to turn single story homes into multi-story ones. They’ve given us more space and more convenience. They lift us to new heights! What’s not to love? Nothing! Except, of course…  the risk of falling down them. Nobody wants the bruised tailbone or broken ego that can come from a stair-based stumble.

There’s an easy way to prevent that from happening, however. Enter: rug runners

A stair runner is a long and slender rug that’s formed and fitted to your stairs, making them less slippery and more comfortable. But how do you install stair runners? We’ll walk you through your install below.

How to Install Stair Runners in 4 Easy Steps

Step 1: Measure the Stairs

Measuring the stairs is the first, and, arguably, the most important part of star runner installation. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting it done:

  • Measure the total width of the stair. If you want some of the stair showing on each side of the runner, subtract the appropriate number of inches from the total width. We recommend around four inches of space on each side for the most aesthetically pleasing look.

  • Measure the stair riser height from the bottom to the lip of the step.

  • Measure the stair depth from around the lip to the top of the riser.

  • Count the number of risers and stair depths you will want the rug to cover. 

  • Multiply the number of risers by the height you measured from a single riser in the second step. 

  • Multiply the number of stair depths by the depth measurement you gathered from step three..

  • Combine the totals from step five and six: now you have your total measurement!

View this guide for more help on how to measure for a stair runner.

Step 2: Install the Rug Pads

Rug pads are what keeps your runner in place. Since these are located on steps, they're critically important. You'll need a rug pad for each individual stair tread. A cascading rug pad won't support a rug as readily as individual pads, so keep that in mind. 

Once you have your rug pad, you'll cut pieces for each step. You want the pads to be narrower than the runner by at least an inch on each side. Use fabric scissors to cut your pieces and secure them in place using individual pieces of double-sided carpet tape. Use at least three pieces of tape: one in the middle and one on each edge. Repeat the process for all treads.

Step 3: Lay Down the Stair Runner

Now for the runner installation itself. Here's how you do it: 

  • First, cut a strip of double-sided carpet tape that's slightly shorter than the width of the runner. Press the tape along the top edge of the riser of the top step. Line up the top edge of your runner with the tape and press it firmly down. 

  • Secure the carpet in place by using a staple gun on the outer edges once it’s been placed. A staple each three to four inches is ideal. 

  • Now you'll move on to the next step. At the inner corner of each riser, you'll want to use a long, sturdy object like a bolster chisel to make sure the rug is flat against each step before it's stapled in place.

  • Continue this process, step by step, top to bottom, until the rug has been completely secured on the stairs. 

Step 4: Put on the Finishing Touches

If you're going through the effort of installing your own stair runner, you're going to want it looking nice for years to come. That's why, once you've completed rug installation, we recommend taking the time to give your rug neat edges. This will make your entire staircase look cleaner and help you avoid the danger of any trailing or unraveling pieces of carpet. 

All you have to do is:

  • At the very bottom of your staircase, the base of the last step, use a tool (like the bolster chisel or anything similarly wide, flat, and sturdy) to press down along the rug to tighten it, making a crease. 

  • Mark the crease and measure two to three inches out from the crease. Use a flat edge to draw a straight line across the rug using a pencil or piece of chalk. 

  • Cut along the line and fold the end of the runner under, pressing it tight against the riser to create a "hem." 

  • Staple this hem into place against the riser and feel proud about the work you've accomplished. Great job!

Removing Slippery Slopes

Stair runners don’t just look nice, they make your home safer. Using the four steps above, you can easily make your home’s stairs less of a slippery slope and more of a creature comfort. But don’t just take it from us. Read our interview with Kim Vargo from Yellow Brick Home to see why she thinks stair runners are a must-have.

Ready to install a stair runner, but aren’t sure which rug runner to get? Find the right runner for your stairs with our comprehensive catalog!

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