DIY Carpet Stair Runner Tutorial

Hello, friends! It’s been a hot second since I have gotten a blog post to y’all! It’s been a crazy busy summer thus far, and if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I was at the Haven Conference in Atlanta last weekend (Haven is an annual DIY/home decor bloggers conference), and I must say, it was AH-MAZING!! Most importantly, it was truly the fire under my butt that I needed to get back into blogging and being more dedicated to getting inspirational content out here for y’all on a regular basis! So without further ado, I bring you my DIY Carpet Stair Runner tutorial!

Carolina dog sitting on landing of stairs with black and white stair runner and eucalyptus in large vase in corner

I completed this stair runner project back in early February 2019, and I must say I am so impressed with how well it has held up! I knew we needed to have a stair runner for our sweet pup Napa, who I swore was going to break a leg every time the doorbell rang and she would quite literally FLY down the slippery stairs; but in that same vein, I was nervous that her nails would cause damage or frays to the carpet over time. I’m happy to report we’ve had just ONE fray so far (easily fixed with a small pair of sewing scissors and some clear nail polish to prevent further fraying), and I’m pretty sure that was from me dropping and dragging a piece of plywood on the stairs during our latest bathroom renovation. Oops!

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It also added a more custom look to our stairs, and y’all know I love anything that adds more texture to our home, and this did just that! The installation process was also a fairly easy – the process will be easier with two people, but I did 85% of it alone and it looks great! So what do you need and how do you do it? Let’s get started!

What You’ll Need:

  • Carpet Runners of your choice (Be sure the runners you choose are a good width for your stairs. I recommend leaving about 3-4 inches on either side of the runner. You’ll also want to order the longest runners you can, and order at least 3 feet more than you think you’ll need, or even more if you have to cut off the ends, like I did.)
  • Heavy Duty Staple Gun and Staples (about 3/8 – 1/2″)
  • Black Sharpie
  • Masking or Painters tape
  • Carpet Padding (For the treads only – calculate the approximate square footage, add 15%, and purchase the amount you need accordingly.)
  • Measuring Tape
  • Level or Straight Edge
  • Fabric Scissors

DIY Stair Runner How To:

Step 1:

First, measure how long you will need your runners to be. To do this, use the following equation: (length of one tread + length of one riser) X (total number of stairs). Add at least 15%, and purchase accordingly. I added a bit more, because the runners I chose had a design on each end that I knew I would need to cut off. So I purchased three 10′ runners, but only needed about 22 feet total, and we just BARELY made it!

Stair runner rug model from Safavieh
Here is the model of the carpet runner I chose – I have this exact rug linked for y’all as well as a few other options that I considered!

Step 2:

Lay your runner out on your stairs and match the middle of the runner with the middle of your stairs. Use your masking tape and tape each tread on either side of where the runner will lay so that you have a guide as you’re installing. This step is immensely helpful and will keep your lines straight, especially if working with a rug with some kind of linear pattern on it, like we were!

masking tape guide for diy stair runner tutorial
As you can see, as I proceeded down each step, the masking tape was the guide to keep me straight.

Step 3:

Cut off the very end of your runner with a pair of sharp fabric scissors. You’ll work your way from the top down. Fold the raw edge under (be sure it’s straight – you can use whatever patten is in your rug to guide you; if there is no pattern, I recommend using a level and speed square to be sure your fold is straight), line up your runner with the masking tape, and begin by stapling one staple into the very left corner, RIGHT underneath the tread, where it meets the top of the riser. The closer you get to that seam, the less you will see you’re staples. Work your way across, placing staples about 2 inches apart. Be sure the fabric is pulled taut going across, but not overly so.

It’s super hard to see the staples (and that’s what we want!), but the slight puckers in the carpet that you see right under the top of that very first tread is where the staples are. Again, the more you can wedge them into that seam where the tread and top of the riser meet, the better.

I then went back in and added more staples where I thought it was necessary.

PRO TIP: You’re staples will likely be silver or brass. If your rug is black or dark like mine, you can use your Sharpie to color the tops of them before inserting them into the staple gun – this just helps hide them a bit more!

Totally optional, but I definitely think this helped hide the staples!

Step 4:

Cut a piece of your carpet padding to fit your tread. Cut each piece about 1 1/2 inches less in width than your runner – this leaves a bit of space on either side of the padding so that the runner will fully cover it once installed. Also cut each piece slightly wider than your tread so that the front edge will roll over. This will help disguise the fact that there’s padding, and will give it a more finished look.

diy carpet stair runner tutorial
As you can see, there’s about 3/4 – 1″ on either side of the rug padding, and the padding will roll over the front of the tread once the runner is laid and stapled over it.

Step 5:

Pull your runner down taut – more than you think you need to – you don’t want any bulges or bumps! Make sure you’re pulling it evenly as well, so that your pattern remains straight. Push your carpet padding up to the very back of your stair, and smoosh (is that a real word?) the carpet into the seam where the bottom of the riser meets the back of the next tread. Use your staple gun and first staple the left side as close into that crease as you can. Move slowly and methodically, adjusting the runner as needed, until the entire length is stapled into the seem. Add more staples as needed.

Step 6:

Repeat this process all the way down your stairs, stapling under the tread/at the top of the riser, and then at the bottom of the riser/back of the tread. Anytime you need to begin with a new runner rug, be sure to cut off the seam at the end of the runner you’re working with, fold it over, and end it preferably in a seam where the BOTTOM of the riser meets the BACK END of the tread. We found that the transition between rugs was better concealed this way. Then, cut off the seem of your next runner, fold it over, butt it up against the edge you just made, and begin anew!

If you have straight stairs with no bends, lucky you! We have a 180 degree turn in our stairs, so I created a kind of L shape with our runners and just installed them in the way we liked them best.

diy carpet stair runner process
Here you can kind of see how I tackled our 180 degree turn. I ended the first runner where you see above, then laid the next one straight over top of it, and centered, 90 degrees rotated from the first one. I then repeated this on the small landing below as well, which got me the full 180 degrees. I staples straight down into the landing along all of the edges you see above, but with the blackened staples, you really don’t see them at all – just be sure your’e staples are FULLY inserted – no one wants to step on a staple!

Step 7:

Once you get to the bottom of the last riser, cut your runner, fold the edge under, and staple! And voila! You’ve just installed your very own DIY carpet stair runner!

DIY carpet stair runner with Carolina dog laying on top
Napa is a big fan!
overhead shot of Carolina dog laying on DIY black and white carpet stair runner
An overhead shot! We love how it turned out!

What do y’all think? Is your home in need of some less slippery stairs? If so, I highly recommend this DIY carpet stair runner – and the carpet padding really makes them so much more comfy to walk on, too!

Enjoy, friends, and let me know if you tackle this project – I’d love to see!

DIY stair runner tutorial
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