The best way to give an old staircase a brand new look? According to our friend Carli Alves of @madebycarli, the answer is by installing a chic, DIY stair runner—and we couldn’t agree more! Carli is a pro on all things renos and DIYs, so we tapped her to share step-by-step instructions for the easy project, which she just pulled off in her own home.
“The staircase in our fixer upper was less than ideal—I’m pretty sure it was fully carpeted at one time—and was looking pretty rough when we [moved in],” Carli says. So, time for a refresh! To kick it off, she stained the treads and painted the risers black, making the stairs a blank canvas on which to roll out and install our Herringbone Woven Flatwoven rug in gray.
We’re passing it over to Carli—keep reading to see how install your own DIY stair runner!
DIY Stair Runner Supplies
How to DIY a Stair Runner
Step 1: Determine the Runner Length
Measure the rise and run (or height from one tread to the next tread, along with the depth from the riser to the nose of the staircase) of each step. Add that number together and multiply it by the number of steps. That’s the length of the runner you’ll need in inches.
Note that for longer stairs, this may require more than one runner!
Step 2: Cut Your Rug Pad to Fit
My rug pad was slightly smaller in width than my runner, so I only needed to measure the depth of each stair to figure out the size each rug pad cutout needed to be per stair tread. (You don’t need to attach a rug pad to the risers—just the treads.) My stair treads were approximately 11” deep.
Step 3: Center and Staple the Rug Pad Cutouts
Here’s how to center the rug pads on your steps:
Measure the width of each step, then subtract the width of the rug pad. Divide that number by 2 to get the distance that should be between the wall and the edge of the rug.
My staircase is 36.5” wide, and my rug pad is approximately 24.5” wide. So, I subtracted 24.5 (the width of my rug pad) from 36.5 (the width of my stairs) to get 12. Twelve divided by 2 equals 6, so I needed to leave about 6” on each side of my rug pad.
Once you’ve centered the rug pads, staple them down to the tread as close to the riser as possible. I used two staples per pad. Continue installing the pads on each step.
Step 4: Center Your Runner and Staple
Starting at the top of the staircase, unroll your runner. Center the runner based on the math in Step 3 above. Begin stapling the end of your runner to the riser beneath the bullnose of the first step. Secure it about every two inches.
Now is where you decide whether you want a waterfall edge or a Hollywood-style runner. A waterfall edge drapes over the edge of the staircase, where the Hollywood tucks under the edge tightly for a more formal look. For my staircase, I chose a waterfall look. To achieve this look, drape your runner over the next step and tuck it tightly into the crease between the riser and stair tread, then staple. Keep stapling approximately every 2 inches.
Continue doing this (while also making sure the runner is centered) until you run out of your first runner.
Step 5: Line Up and Secure the Second Runner
Choose a good stopping point where the seam of the first runner will be discreet. This was fairly easy for me because the pattern on my runner was continuous. I decided to stop in the crease between the riser and tread, which meant I needed to cut a couple of inches off my first runner.
To do this, I tucked the end of the runner into the crease—ensuring that it was straight—and marked where to cut using my marker. Using sharp scissors, I cut across the marks and then stapled the end of the runner to the riser, pulling it nice and tight.
Next, I cut the hemmed edge off of the next runner (to make the transition less bulky), folded the now-unfinished edge over, stapled it into the stair’s crease, and continued stapling the runner to each step.
Step 6: Wrap it Up!
The end of my stair runner happened to land right at the edge of the last step. I was able to slightly stretch it to fold the end just under the edge of the last step, then secured it in multiple spots with the staple gun. I love how this runner adds interest without making the hallway feel too busy!
All photos courtesy of Carli Alves of @madebycarli. Thanks for letting us share, Carli!