DIY Stair runner – Everything you need to know

I am a big fan of houzz for interior design inspiration. If you’ve never heard of houzz – it’s like pinterest for house stuff. If you’ve never heard of pinterest……..hmmm. This link was pretty handy in helping me decide on how wide I wanted my runner to be and whether I wanted a waterfall edge or a Hollywood edge. Solid or patterned. On the landing or not. Basically every decision that you will also have to make if you are planning on installing a stair runner.

First though, why a stair runner? We made our treads out of pine. Pine is a soft wood and scratches very easily. It is also 1/3 the cost of oak. With our addition I made sure to squeeze every penny dry. I was extremely logical about every decision because if I let my emotions take over and not logic we would not have done our addition for $70 per s.f. That’s right. $70 per s.f. I didn’t forget a 1 or a 2 there people. Some might argue that in the long run I will pay more for those stair treads because of wear and tear. I’m going to argue that I won’t. From the very beginning we knew we wanted a runner. The runner keeps the stairs quiet, keeps them a little cleaner (looking), protects the treads from wear and most importantly, helps our littles and oldies avoid slipping down the stairs. Soooo….yes, oak is better, mahogany is better, you name a hardwood it’s better, but pine is just fine…and if I ever need to replace it – it’s $9/tread.

Now, which stair runner? I wanted an inexpensive option that I could replace if I wanted to. I picked an outdoor rug with a fun pattern that came in a long length from Overstock.com. It’s wide enough to cover about 2/3 of the stair width – that’s the number I came up with that was the most aesthetically pleasing. It also gives enough walking space and enough tread exposure on either side of the rug. Our stairs are 42″ wide that = a runner of 27″ leaving 7.5″ on either side of the rug. This isn’t a rule 4-8″ exposure seems to be the general guide. It just so happens that 27″ rugs are easy to come by. Safavieh was the maker of our rug. Here’s a pic of the rug I bought:
Safavieh-Indoor-Outdoor-Courtyard-Navy-Beige-Rug-23-x-16-e2a69823-f8b2-4126-8f0d-75e3ed3aae4f_600

Once I knew the width then I had to figure out whether I wanted the Hollywood edge or the waterfall edge in order to calculate how much length I needed to order. The Hollywood edge is a little more difficult to calculate and install and involves wrapping each tread and pinning it into the riser below it. Kind of like a fitted top. The waterfall edge is more like a lose top, you don’t wrap the edge of each tread and attach the runner where the stair tread and riser meet. Check out the pics below, courtesy of houzz.   
Here are some pics – also from houzz of the Hollywood edge:
   

We ended up choosing the Hollywood edge. To calculate length of runner the easiest method I found was to grab a tape measure (I used my fabric sewing tape measure) and measure from the back of the tread – where it meets the riser, to the edge of the tread, then wrap around the tread and measure down the riser to where it meets the next tread. This gave me a measurement of 17.5″ give or take an 1/8. I have two sets of 8 steps. Take 17.5″ x 8 steps = 140″ + 7″ (this adds the last riser, the one that meets the landing and the one that meets the second floor) = 147″ or roughly 13′ (I rounded up for extra). The rug I bought is 16′ long – just the right amount of wiggle room. I bought two, one for each run of stairs.

We did not want to attach the runner to the treads – only the risers. I also did not want to use carpet tape to help keep the rug in place on the treads, so I bought one of these:
rug gripper
I just bought one really large one for an 8’x10′ rug and cut it into strips of 8″ x 24″ for each tread. This works perfectly under the rug and I didn’t have to worry about wrecking my pine treads 😉

Now for the tutorial!

Tools:
Staple gun
1/5″ staples
Sharpie marker in a color that is similar to the rug you purchased

Step 1:
Calculate how much length you need to buy and buy it. See above for how to do it (if you got bored with all my nonsense and just skimmed it). Once you get it, unroll it and let it acclimate to the room for a few days. This is really important if you picked a rug with a pattern.

Step 2:
Measure your tread width, subtract the width of the runner from that and divide by 2 (this gives you equal amounts of tread exposed on either side of the runner).
Example:
42″ – 27″ / 2 = 7.5″
At this point we cut a scrap piece of wood to 7.5″ to use as a guide. You can also just use your tape measure or a ruler or whatever (a mark on your arm?).

Step 3:
Cut your rug gripper pad down into strips that will fit under your runner and just on the top of the tread. Mine were 2″ shorter in width and length than the runner. Place these strips on the stair treads, centering them on the tread. You don’t need to tape or glue them, just haphazardly drop them on the stair treads.

Step 4:
Using your sharpie, color the backs of your staples. This keeps the staples from shinning right in your eyes.

Step 5:
Here’s the fun part. Grab your rug and starting from the top of the stairs, butt the end of your rug up against where the riser meets the landing and staple it into place. Then staple the runner where the riser meets the tread below it pulling it in tight as you staple. Staple as much as you need to, but we found that every 4″ across on the top of the riser and the bottom was good enough. Let the runner lay on the tread and use your hands to help it “hug” the edge of the tread while you staple it to the riser below the tread. You can staple up into the tread if you need to help it form around the edge. We found that just pressing the stapler up into where the tread meets the riser and tacking it in there was enough. Work your way down the stairs until you get to the end.
stairs2

Step 6:
Using a very sharp utility blade, cut the runner. I have a cutting mat. Mike placed this on top of the floor and the runner remnant over it. This protected our wood floor while we made the cut. After stapling the runner into the last riser he pinned the utility blade down into where the runner meets the floor and cut. The outdoor rug had a few little threads that unraveled a little bit when cut. Mike used a lighter and melted those ends in. Careful.

Step 7:
Admire your work. This whole project took a couple of hours, but looks like we paid someone to do it.

Before:
stairs6

After:
stairs  stairs3

2 thoughts on “DIY Stair runner – Everything you need to know

  • November 21, 2016 at 6:52 am
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    Is the rug flat? Or is the pattern raised?

    Reply
    • November 22, 2016 at 7:58 am
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      Thanks for commenting! The rug is flat. It’s an indoor/outdoor rug. We’ve had it installed for over a year and it still looks amazing.

      Reply

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