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How to Install a Carpet Runner on Wooden Stairs

Creating and installing a carpet runner on stairs using tackless strips adds color and comfort to stairs and can be accomplished by a DIYer of any skill level.

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Step 1: Install Tackless Strips

Cut the strips so they are 4" shorter than the final width of your runner. The strips should be approximately 1/2" from and parallel to the corner between the riser and the tread. For consistent placement make a spacer of two strips taped together to determine how high to place the tackless strips on the riser(image 1). Attach a tackless strip centered on the riser and on the back of each tread (image 2). The points of the strip should face the corner.

Step 2: Install the Padding

Cut carpet padding the same width as the strips and wrap it around the front edge of the steps, but leave some slack.

wrap carpet padding around edge but leave slack

Courtesy of Cary Wiedman

Step 3: Trim Carpet to Size

Roll out the length of carpet needed to run the length of the stairs and cut it approximately 3" wider than the finished runner will be. Turn the carpet upside down, and snap a chalk line on each side so that the distance between the chalk lines is equal to the width of the runner.

Step 4: Crease the Carpet Runner

Use a straightedge and an awl to score the back of the carpet along the chalk lines (image 1). This will allow you to fold the carpet along the lines (image 2).

Step 5: Position and Attach the Runner

Fold the edges of the carpet under, and center the carpet on the bottom edge of the steps (image 1). Use the awl to push the carpet onto the tackless strip (image 2).

Step 6: Staple the Riser

Staple the carpet onto the riser just below the tread. Wiggle the stapler in between the fibers as much as possible. Be careful not to staple through the fold.

staple carpet onto riser just below tread

Courtesy of Cary Wiedman

Step 7: Tuck the Carpet Into the Corner

Use a knee kicker to push the carpet tight into the corner of the tread and riser while using a stair tool to wedge the carpet into the corner between the tread and the riser. Repeat steps six and seven as you work your way up the stairs.

wedge carpet into corner with stair tool

Courtesy of Cary Wiedman

Step 8: Straighten the Runner's Edges

If necessary, use the awl to pull the bottom of the fold out so that the edges of carpet are straight (image 1). When the edges of the carpet are straight, staple them in place again wiggling the stapler in between the fibers of the carpet (image 2).

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