How to Install a Stair Runner

how to install a stair runner
how to install a stair runner

I have a mental running list of projects for the house to tackle. Occasionally, I'll mention an idea to Jordon in conversation to see if he has any thoughts or ideas, but I usually get a, "that sounds good" reply.

A couple days after mentioning I wanted to rip out the current stair runner, paint the stairs, and install a new runner, I got this pic message while I was at work.


On his day off, Jordon had ripped off the old runner.

Seriously! He's a keeper. And I'm super lucky he loves projects as much as I do :)

The old runner was some kind of textured rubber. Apparently the previous owners only painted part of the stairs brown and the cream part was hidden by the rubber runner.

Because our house is a split level ranch, the entryway from the garage leads to the basement, so right when you walk in the door the first thing you see are those stairs leading up to the main living area, kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms. I hated the huge eyesore right when you walked in, so I give it a little update.

That weekend after Jordon ripped off the old runner, we painted the stairs white. Jordon started by priming them on Friday while I was at work. Then on Saturday when I could help, we used our HomeRight Max Pro paint sprayer and it worked like a charm for the stairs. It was super quick and covered well. For the second coat of paint we did use a brush though to make sure it was nice and even with no streaks.

While the paint dried, I contemplated what color of runner to get. I considered a black patterned one or a rugby stripe one, but ultimately decided to play it safe and chose a sisal rug with grey border. Sisal is not only durable and cleanable, (dirty shoes will be walking up and down the stairs constantly) but super affordable.

We lived with the painted stairs for a few days while we waited for the runners to arrive. to the good stuff. How to install a stair runner yourself. I looked up several tutorials online and then kind of just learned as we went. All of the tutorials I read used electric staple guns, but I was too cheap to buy one when we had a regular staple gun on hand (it was doable with a non-electric gun but it took lots of strength and occasional hand-cramping)

For staples, I picked up some 13mm staples that are made for upholstery and are much longer than a standard staple.

how to install a stair runner

We chose to use a rug pad as well to keep the runner from slipping. I picked up a 5x8 rug pad at Home Depot for about $20 and cut it into rectangles to fit each step. We didn't adhere them to the steps beforehand, knowing the staples would keep them in place.

stairs before

For installation, we started with the top of the stairs and worked our way down. Jordon pre-measured the stairs all the way down and marked on each step with a pencil where the rug should line up on each side so it was centered.

Then, we started by lining the top of the rug up with with the top of the first riser and stapled it across. We didn't staple on the grey border because the staples would be much more noticeable. Next, we pulled the runner tight and stapled along the bottom of the riser.

We also chose to staple under the nose so the runner was tight instead of creating a waterfall look.

Here is what our stapling process looked like.

how to install a stair runner

I was helping hold the runner in place while Jordon did the stapling. Since it wasn't an electric stapler, it required lots of power and pressure. When I attempted to staple it, the staple was sticking out a half inch since I couldn't press down hard enough.

how to install a stairs runner
how to install a stairs runner

It took a bit for us to get in a zone, but once we got going it went pretty fast.

One runner wasn't enough so we knew we'd have to join the second one seamlessly. To prevent any obvious transitions from the first to the second rug, we wanted them to meet under the nose of a stair. Once we reached the end of the first rug, we cut the rug so it was just long enough to staple under the nose. Then we cut the grey border off on the second rug and stapled that right under the nose as well.

how to install a stairs runner
how to install a stairs runner

It was hard to capture photos of it at the same time, but we followed the same stapling pattern through the entire project.

Unfortunately, we realized 2 rugs were not long enough so we had to order one more rug and finish that one a few weeks later. Our stairs weren't all the same size so it threw off my measuring when I was ordering rugs. Oops.

Once we reached the bottom of the stairs with our third rug in place, we cut off the excess rug. Because the third rug didn't end perfectly with the end of the stairs, we had to rejoin the bottom grey trim that we cut off earlier. We simply stapled the grey trim at the bottom of the stairs and that covered any unevenness from cutting off the excess rug.

If the light hits the staples just right you can see them a little, but it's not noticeable unless you look for them. On this tutorial from One House Love they actually colored the staples black with a Sharpie to match their runner, so I may see if I can find a similar brown to our sisal rug to color the staples.

how to install a stair runner
how to install a stair runner
how to install a stair runner

Overall, it was a fairly easy project that completely updated the stairs. I'm so happy we no longer have a huge eye sore right when you walk in the house!

As far as budget, we spent $185 for 3 rugs, $20 for the rug pad, and $3 in staples, for a total cost of $208 . Not too bad for a little weekend project that makes our stairs looks SOOO much better.

Eventually we plan on adding a pendant light at the top of the stairs (right now it's just a bulb) and a large piece of art on the blank white wall above that you see when walking down the stairs.

Let me know if you have any questions!