How to Measure For a Stair Runner

How to Measure For a Stair Runner

Rug runners for stairs are an overlooked gem in many homes. They protect your beautiful hardwood flooring from scuff marks, quiet any noisy creaks, and prevent slipping. On top of their functional benefits, rug runners also give your stairs an elegant design appeal. Our selection of rug runners consists of multiple weaves, patterns, and colors so you can find the perfect fit for your space.

You can choose any width runner  and as many feet in length as you need! Measuring for a custom-sized runner is crucial since you’ll want the runner to line up perfectly for a clean, finished look. Fortunately, measuring is easy.  We have put together a guide that shows the two most common ways to measure a stair runner.  The first uses a piece of string and tape and the second is a math-based approach.

Using a String & Tape to Measure

The easiest approach to measuring a stair runner is to use a piece of string and tape.  All you do is tape the string to the stairs and run it down as you would the rug.  Measure the string when you are done.  The only tools you will need are string, tape, scissors and a measuring tape.  Here is more detail.

Measuring the Width

Let’s start with the easy part, measuring the width.  If you want to cover your whole staircase simply measure how wide it is.  The binding does not add any width to the runner.  It is common for the stair runner to be shorter on each side to expose part of the wood underneath.  We see anywhere from 3-12” exposed on either side depending on the overall width of the staircase and personal preference. 

Measuring the Length

Now let’s measure the length.  Start by attaching the piece of string under the top lip of the stairs where the rug will end.  Use a piece of tape to secure string to the stair.

Now run the string down the back of the step (riser) and attach it to the base of the step using tape. 

Run the string over the step, wrap it over the lip and tape it under the lip (if you want the rug to wrap around and underneath the lip) then attach the string again at the bottom of the riser.  Otherwise if you wanted a waterfall look (like pictured above) run the string over the step and attach it at the bottom of the riser. Continue attaching the string down the stairs just as you would like the rug to look.

When you reach the base of the steps you will want to mark this spot of the string using a piece of tape.  Do not attach the string to the bottom of the step, only mark your spot.  Now you will take all of the string that you have attached to the stairs and measure it.  You can tear it off to easily measure. 

Measure the piece of string from the starting end all the way to where the bottom was marked. This is your length. 

Math Based Approach

1. Measure the total width (A in the image above) 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. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want about four inches of stair exposed on each side. This will give the stairs some visual contrast, creating an aesthetically pleasing look.

2. Measure the stair riser height (B) from the bottom to the lip of the step.

3. Measure the stair depth (C) from around the lip to the top of the riser.

4. Count the number of risers and stair depths the rug will need to cover.

5. Multiply the number of risers by the height of a single riser from step 2.

6. Multiply the number of stair depths by the depth measurement from step 3.

7. Add the totals from steps 5 and 6 for the total length of the runner.

Stair Runner Measuring Considerations

We always suggest adding at least 6” on to your final length because the last thing you would want is to receive the runner and it is too short!  The runner can always be cut down in length when installed.   

It is a common request for us to leave the ends of the runner unbound so that it can be easily cut down to size.  Just leave us a note in the comments section of the order and we are happy to accommodate this.

Next Steps

Choose your rug and border color then head over to the ordering page to place your order.  You also need to decide whether you will be doing the installation yourself as a DIY project or having an installer do the work.

If installing yourself you can follow our Stair Runner Installation Guide. If you will be hiring an installer we recommend finding a local, reputable carpet installer who is familiar with installing natural fiber carpeting such as wool. As always, if you have any questions please reach out to us by phone or email.

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