I am often asked, Do you like having a stair runner? My answer to this question is a resounding YES! If you are on the fence about adding a stair runner or are unsure where to even start, this post is for you! If you are looking for a tutorial on How to Install a Stair Runner, you’ll have to keep looking … I am NOT a DIYer! What I CAN do is provide an overview of how to choose and lay a stair runner! That is … what carpet works well on stairs, installation methods available, special considerations, and of course some carpet pattern recommendations!
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WHY ADD A STAIR RUNNER
Not only does a beautifully patterned stair runner add style to an otherwise bland space, but it also provides safety. Exposed wood treads are gorgeous (especially with white risers) BUT they can be slippery and dangerous! Other stair runner benefits include increased comfort and better noise absorption than a hard surface.
It is true that a staircase with exposed wood tread is beautiful BUT it can be just as beautiful with a runner! Painting the risers white before carpet installation provides a classic look. The wood tread and white risers will remain exposed a few inches on either side of the runner so you don’t fully lose this classic look!
BEST CARPET TYPE FOR A STAIR RUNNER
Be sure to choose a durable carpet style because your runner will work HARD! Stairs get a lot of use and suffer a lot of impact with the added force of gravity as feet descend stairs. Any style of carpet can be used on stairs BUT nylon and wool are the most desirable for runners. Both choices tend to be very durable and offer the most high-end look.
Another thing to consider is carpet pile. A high pile carpet will show wear more quickly than a low pile carpet. The bottom line … purchase the highest quality and highest durability carpet you can afford! This will save you money in the long run because you won’t have to replace the carpet as soon as you would with a low-quality product.
Don’t forget the carpet pad! Your pad should be slightly more narrow than your runner so it isn’t visible from the side of an open staircase.
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STAIR CARPET PATTERN
A stair runner is a great place to incorporate a patterned carpet because it is a small space (which = less of a design commitment)! Including at least a subtle pattern is also a great way to hide wear and tear on your runner. It is best to go with a small pattern on stairs because a large pattern gets lost.
A pattern is gorgeous and fun but it can be HARD to line up! I highly recommend hiring a skilled installer to ensure the pattern lines up well. I learned this lesson the hard way. I didn’t do my research in finding a reputable professional to lay my basement stair carpet … and it shows! Believe me, I made sure to find the most skilled carpet professional to install the runner on my main staircase!
SHOP MY FAVORITE STAIR RUNNER CARPET PATTERNS
WAYS TO LAY A STAIR RUNNER
There are two ways to install a stair runner: waterfall and French cap.
The waterfall method involves bending the carpet over the edge of the stair and bringing it straight down to meet the tread of the next step. This method is the easiest, fastest, and most common way to install carpet on stairs. It is the optimal method for thick carpet because the thicker the carpet, the more difficult it is to wrap around the edge of the tread.
I opted for the French Cap method which offers a more tailored look. This method involves wrapping carpet around the edge of the stair and tucking it under the lip so it contours to the shape of the step. It requires more time and skill than the waterfall method during installation. I recommend hiring a professional to do this type of installation.
WIDTH AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
The width of your stair runner is up to you; it really depends on how much of the wood tread and riser you want to be exposed. The majority of stair runners are 27″ or 30″ wide. My stair treads are 49.5” wide and my runner is 31” wide with 7” of exposed wood on either side. This does not include the exposed wood outside the baluster. If you have a stair landing, you should continue the runner and exposed wood on your landing.
My stair landing and window seat measurements:
Width from wall to outside of balusters: 97”
Depth from window seat to stairs: 52”
Depth from window seat to middle post: 45.5”
Window seat depth: 18”
Another consideration is how to transition the runner at the top of the stairs. You do not need to have the same carpet on the second floor as you have on your stairs. This photo shows how my staircase seamlessly transitions to a different carpet style.
I ordered my nylon Stanton carpet from a local Interior Design boutique. However, you can order carpet online and have a local professional cut and bind the rug to create your stair runner. One of my favorite rug companies, Dash and Albert, has fabulous patterns for stair runners. Any Dash and Albert rug that is woven cotton or indoor/outdoor can be used on stairs.
I hope you learned a thing or two about how to choose and lay a stair runner from this overview! If you are ready to pull the trigger and shop for a stair runner, I have included several carpet runner ideas below!