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How to Buy and Install a Staircase Runner

Hello Friends,

Welcome to Week 2 of the Fall One Room Challenge.

Today’s post shares tips and tricks for buying and installing a staircase runner.

Hope you can join us.

How to Buy and Install a Staircase Runner

Part II of II Basement Staircase Makeover


The basement staircase is actually my second staircase remodel. Many years ago, when the main floor refresh got underway, the staircase was the first project we tackled. This post explains how to:

Take your basement staircase from drab to fab with these tips and tricks | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com


Since my basement stairs are made of super-yucky raw wood (not hardwood or even high quality raw wood), Part I in the basement stairs makeover series shares how to:

  • Fill in large and small gaps between the treads, risers and side molding

  • Fill in wood knots 

  • Hide nail heads

The end result provides a surface that can be painted to look like a custom-cut hardwood tread is under the paint.

Click here to review Part I in the Basement Staircase Makeover, then meet me back here for the runner install.

Tips and tricks to prep, paint and install a staircase runner | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com

How to Buy and Install a Staircase Runner

Part II of II in the Basement Staircase Makeover


And now, here we are at Part II in the Basement Staircase Makeover. Are you ready to install a runner?

Tips for Buying a Staircase Runner


  • Begin by measuring the width of the treads to determine the maximum and minimum widths that will work.

  • For example, my treads are 40 inches wide and the runner is 32 inches wide. This leaves 4 inches on each side. I found this to be a good visual and functional balance.

  • If you need to create a visual to determine the size, cut scrap fabric or paper and lay it on a tread.

  • And remember, if a width reads 2.4 feet, it’s actually 2 feet and 4 inches. That’s only 28 inches total and, IMHO, too narrow for a 40-inch wide staircase. 

Yucky raw wood can be prepped and painted to look like custom-cut hardwood | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com


  • Begin by measuring the riser height and the tread depth.

  • Add height + depth.

  • Multiply this number by the number of stairs.

  • If the runner is stapled under the tread (as shown in the photo below), then add another inch or two per step.

  • A runner installed as a waterfall look is not tacked under the tread (at the top of the riser). The carpet simply “falls” over the edge of the tread and is only stapled at the bottom of the riser.

  • And lastly, will the runner have a carpet pad cut to fit under the runner on each tread? This could also adjust the needed length.

  • Runners can be purchased in several lengths. Take the time to get really good measurements and think through the installation process before you buy.

  • If you have to overlap runners, do everything possible to make the overlap occur on a riser, not on a tread. And try to hide the overlap in a crease (where the riser meets the tread).

How much runner length is needed? Find out using these measuring tips and tricks | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com


  • Some runners are very stiff.

  • If this type runner is used, you’ll likely need a tool called a bolster chisel. This can be found in the carpet section of the home improvement store or on Amazon.

  • The bolster chisel will grip the runner and push it in place (using your muscles) so the staple gun can attach it to the riser.

  • A super-stiff runner is usually harder to install than one that is more flexible.

  • Honestly, I think a super-stiff runner that is a high ravel risk would send me go over the edge. Suggest trying to limit these characteristics when choosing a runner. For me, containing the ravel in a more loosely woven rug is easier to manage than having to muscle a stiff rug into place while trying to staple it down. But that’s just me.

Stiff vs loosely-woven runners. Patterns vs no-repeat | Staircase runner shopping tips and tricks included in this post | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com


  • Next, think about pattern. If considering a runner with a specific repeat (which I would avoid on a first runner installation), you’ll have to figure where the pattern fits on the steps and how much waste you will have matching the repeats.

  • However, a pattern with horizontal or vertical lines can be installed pretty easily. It’s just a matter of going slow and easy on the install to keep the lines straight.


  • The runners installed here didn’t have a repeat, but when cut, they would ravel big time. This means carefully considering where and how seams will be installed to avoid cutting the runners except when it is absolutely necessary.

  • Two and 1/2 runners that are each 8 feet long are installed here.

  • And, here’s how it came together.

How to handle staircase runner ravel | Live on the blog | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com

Tips for Installing a Staircase Runner

First runner length:

  • The first runner was installed so that the the ends hit a crease in the steps at both ends (photo below).

  • This way, there is no worry of cutting the 8-foot run with subsequent raveling.

  • Two strips of two-sided carpet tape were placed on each tread to help secure the runner from wear and tear.

  • Each piece is about 27 inches wide and about 3 inches deep.

  • Check the carpet section of your home improvement center for two-sided carpet tape.

  • Whether it actually helps on the wear and tear, I can’t say. But for this loosely-woven jute, it seemed reasonable to give it a try.

  • The runner was attached using a pneumatic staple gun. If you don’t own one, suggest to either buy or rent one for this project. 

  • Staples are attached about every inch on the horizontal under the tread roll at the top of the riser and at the bottom of the riser.

How to hide overlapping seams when installing a staircase runner | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com

Second runner length:

  • The second length of runner laps ends with the first in a crease (photo below).

  • This may look really noticeable blown up in the photo, but it almost completely disappears in real life.

  • After the end pieces are lapped, install the second runner down the next segment of steps just like the first.

  • Be careful to measure left and right on each tread (to remain centered) and to pull the runner to keep the horizontal or vertical lines straight.

  • At the end of the 16-feet of installed runner, it will look like one continuous runner and not two pieces.

Tuck but no nip | My rule for staircase runner overlap if the runner will ravel | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com

Third runner length:

  • The piece cut from the third runner finishes the bottom three risers and two treads.

  • In the photo below, the manufacturer’s end piece was flipped under the jute and stapled on the bottom of the bottom riser. 

  • This gives a nice, finished look as the runner meets the floor without a cut to the runner.

How to get a finished bottom without cutting the staircase runner | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com

  • Then the runner was installed up (as in up from the floor) the two treads and three risers.

  • The runner wasn’t cut until the piece was completely stapled in place except for the tuck under the tread.

  • To prevent excessive raveling, a piece of two-sided carpet tape lined the underside of the runner right at the edge of the cut.

  • The cut was made and a small portion of the runner was flipped back onto the two-sided tape and then stapled at the top of a riser right under the tread roll.

  • In the photo below, look just under the tread that holds the pot.

  • The fold is a little bit noticeable, but much better than having the runner ravel. 

  • The two-sided tape stopped the raveling like a boss.

  • And the extra jute roll, while a tad bulky in that crease, is necessary because of the potential for ravel.

  • But there is no pressure on the runner at that overlap, so I expect the combo of two-sided tape and staples to hold the runner just fine.

How to cut a staircase runner and overlap seams while preventing raveling | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com

And that’s all there is to it.

Basement stairs are prepped, painted and finished with a staircase runner | DIY Staircase Makeover | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com

To save this post for later, please PIN the image below.

Staircase makeovers are easy with a few tips and tricks. This 2-post series shares how to prep and paint the stairs AND how to buy and install a staircase runner | www.thechelseaproject.com | #staircase #staircasemakeover #oneroomchallenge

A staircase makeover in two parts | Part I shares how to prep and paint | Part II shares how to buy and install a runner | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com

Buying and installing a staircase runner is easy with these tips and tricks | This two-part series explains how to prep and fully paint stairs or paint and install a staircase runner | #staircaserunner #staircasemakeover #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com

One Room Challenge Previous Posts

Week 1 – Media Room Makeover Plan

Week 2 – You are here

Weeks 3 – 4 – 5 and 6 – Coming

Our Hosts

And as always, we extend a special thanks to our gracious hosts, Linda at Calling It Home , One Room Challenge and Better Homes and Gardens. And invite you to enjoy over 200 more room renovations,  click One Room Challenge. #oneroomchallenge #ORC #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc

#homeimprovement #homedecor #fusionmineralpaint #mediaroom #mediaroommakeover



  • Reply Debbie October 9, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Hello talented lady. You know how to do everything! Miss you!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 9, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      Thanks so much, Debbie. So good to hear from you.

  • Reply Angela k Nickerson October 10, 2019 at 12:09 am

    That runner is beautiful! And you did a fabulous job installing it. I’m pinning this post for someday! 🙂

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2019 at 7:46 am

      Awww thanks so much, Angela! Look forward to seeing your staircase.

  • Reply Rebecca October 10, 2019 at 12:12 am

    Omg it’s so professional!! Love that texture.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2019 at 7:47 am

      Thanks Rebecca! You just made my day!

  • Reply Joannie October 10, 2019 at 9:52 am

    Susie! This is an awesome tutorial, but even better is how amazing that staircase looks!!! What a game changer, love it

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2019 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks a million, Joannie. I have to admit that I didn’t realize how bad the staircase looked until the makeover was completed.

  • Reply Mary K Hunnicutt October 10, 2019 at 10:03 am

    This looks so nice! I know how much work goes into making over stairs since I tackled ours a couple years ago. I would love to add a runner in the future so I have Pinned your great tutorial for later!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2019 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks so much, Mary! Good luck with that runner! Tag me when you get it installed. I’ll be all proud. Xo

  • Reply Tina Bousu October 10, 2019 at 11:00 am

    This is so awesome Susie! Did you have treads underneath your carpet? We ripped some of ours up to do a similar project but they don’t even cover the entire step (like super cheap plywood as a base) so I thought we would have to actually install treads. This looks SO good!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2019 at 12:34 pm

      Thanks Tina! The raw wood treads that you see in the photo were there when we pulled up the carpet. I think I lucked out because they were thick wood and had a bullnose over the riser. If you want that rounded edge on your treads, then yes, I think you’ll have to cover the plywood with a tread. But you wouldn’t have to buy a hardwood tread. My treads look like they are construction-grade pine with a bullnose. If you plan to paint and use a runner, then the same product could work for you and save lots of money. Email me if you have any questions. Happy to help you figure it out. XO

  • Reply Marie October 10, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Wow, that’s a gorgeous runner, installed like a pro. Thanks for all the tips! Our stairs have been in desperate need of a runner but I haven’t found one I like. Where did you get it or who makes it, Susie? Would like to source it here in Canada.

  • Reply JENRON DESIGNS October 10, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    Susie this looks great I need to keep a runner in mind when we do our basements steps. The natural fiber rugs are my favorite too, so it great to see how you pieced them together.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2019 at 7:53 pm

      Thanks so much Jen. And I agree, Natural fibers rock.

  • Reply Ola October 11, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    Oh. My. Good. Ness! Bravo Sue! You really covered everything. We installed a very stiff runner in our stairs a few years back and maaan what a workout!! I think I’m STILL sweating from it. Now when ppl ask me to explain how to do it I can send them over to your post.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 16, 2019 at 6:35 pm

      LOL…I hear ya about the muscles needed to stretch a stiff runner. You’ll have to show me a photo of your runner. Thanks so much for stopping by. XO

  • Reply nicole torres October 21, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    This looks so pretty I love it. Thank you for sharing

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 23, 2019 at 6:21 pm

      Thanks a million, Nicole.

  • Reply Kirstin April 20, 2020 at 11:50 pm

    Pray tell, where did you find this runner? It’s perfect.

  • Reply Tracy May 21, 2020 at 9:12 am

    How is it holding up? I’m getting ready to start this project and wondering how it’s doing since we have dogs. Also, our stairs are narrower at the top (35 inches) and the last 4 are longer to accommodate the banister and rails. Are you treads actually 40 or are they smaller. They look like they would have the same coverage on each side, about 2 1/2 inches, as mine might. Just trying to gauge look of outcome. Thank you and this is a beautifully done project, instructions and all!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject June 11, 2020 at 10:45 am

      Hi Tracy… The runner is holding up fine for us, but I don’t have children or pets in the house. So it gets some traffic, but not heavy. As for the size, please check inside the blog post. I go into significant detail about the widths and scale. I left 4 inches on each side, but that is because the total width of the steps looked best with this width. Suggest to use some paper or cloth or plastic and tape down your pretend runner to create a visual. That’s always the best option when trying to determine widths. Good luck!! Let me know how it goes.

  • Reply JERILYN HOHENFELDT August 15, 2020 at 10:51 pm

    Where did you purchase the runner? Beautiful !

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