Stair Runners

Add protection to your floor, cushion to your step and pizzazz to your staircase by using a stair runner.  Stair runners not only look great from an entryway, they add a nice tie-in to the first and second floor décor.  Generally, a stair runner should be not be a light color, removing them to clean is not something you want to do every few months.  To choose the right style and size  runner for your staircase, you’ll need to do a few simple steps.


How long does your runner need to be?  You’ll need to measure the treads and risers of your staircase.  The treads are the portion that you step on, the risers go up the next step.  Say your steps measure 9 inches and 8 inches for 17 inches per step, now count the number of stairs and multiply it out.  Measure the width of the steps as well, leaving 1-2 inches of flooring showing on each side.

Where does it end?

You’ll also need to determine if your runner will end at the landing to the second floor or run onto the landing.  You’ll need to make the same decision for the first floor as well.  I personally like to extend it on both ends to protect the flooring, although ending at the top stair and bottom stair does give a cleaner look.  Figure those extensions into your length measurement.

Choose a Runner

Since the runner’s going to be heavily used and hard to clean, choose on that is dark and patterned.  It’s one of the reasons Oriental runners are so popular for stairs.  The general rule for determining if it’s dark and busy enough for the stairs is dropping a penny on it, if it’s fairly well hidden, your dirt will be as well.  To tie in the areas at the top and bottom of the stairs, you may want to choose a stair runner that picks up both wall colors.


You can install your runner on your own, it’s fairly simple.  There are two ways to do it, the right way and the wrong way.  I prefer the wrong way.

The Right Way

The right way to install a runner is using tackless strips, available at any hardware store, and fairly inexpensive, under $20 for the whole staircase.  The strips are installed at the back of the tread, and the bottom of the riser and the rug hooks itself to these pieces. 

The problem I had with this method is that the strips aren’t tackless, they stab into your hands way to easily.  I also had problems with getting the runner to stay on the strips and it was constantly coming loose.

The Wrong Way

If you’re putting holes in the stairs anyway to attach the stupid strips, if you don’t mind the virtually invisible holes in the runner from carpet tacks, just tack the darn thing to the staircase. 

For a stunning look, particularly in traditional décor and period homes, consider the finishing touch of carpet rods, they can take a runner to a whole new level of decorating.  But the look doesn’t come cheap, they can run from $10 to $40 each, so if you’re decorating on a budget, you may need to skip this step!