How to Put Carpet On Stairs

Kimberley McGee

Carpeting stairs is a fairly easy project to complete and has many benefits aside from the added aesthetic. It offers soft padding over a plain and slick wood or metal flight of stairs. Carpeting on the stairs cuts down on noise that can bounce from room to room and make the stairs safer.

How to Put Carpet On Stairs

Stairs are lovely to look at and can be a dramatic focal point of a room. Uncarpeted stairs can increase the noise level in the house and be unsafe to traverse for small children or aging relatives. Installing a carpet runner on the stairs cuts down on sound traveling through the home, providing cushion and comfort and traction. There are a few ways to complete a stair runner installation project.

Standard Installation Options

The standard installation options include waterfall, runner, carpet roll and cap and band. These are the easiest stair carpet installation projects for DIYers.

  • Waterfall: A waterfall carpet flows down a staircase in one fluid piece. It runs from each side and along the base and back of each stair, covering the entire staircase step as well as each step from top to bottom.
  • Runner: This is probably the easiest for DIYers because it follows the structure of the stairs and is pretty straightforward.

  • Carpet roll for stairs: A carpet roll for stairs can quickly cover a large area without the need to measure and cut each piece. It gives a consistent look to the stairs. Stair guides that fit snugly along the base of each step can help keep it in place over a longer period of time than just the layer of super-sticky glue beneath the carpeting.

  • Cap and band stair runner: The cap and band method of laying down a thick roll of carpet on the stairs requires hardware. It uses tacking strips and staples to secure it to the stair nosing. The good thing about the cap and band method is that if a section gets worn or stained, such as the top or bottom stair that gets the brunt of foot traffic, the piece can easily be replaced.

Pros and Cons of Carpeting Stairs

A thick roll of carpeting on the stairs can reduce the strain on the small muscles in the feet as well as joints and tendons in the ankle and calves.

It also takes the brunt of abuse from dirty feet, paws, shoes and treads, spills from drinks and bits of food and other greasy debris. This means you will spend a lot of time vacuuming and spot cleaning carpet on the stairs. Luckily, stair runners can be switched out relatively easy if they become worn or dirty.

If not properly installed, carpeting on the stairs can be a fall hazard.

Installing Carpet Padding

A pad raises the runner off the wood and provides a thicker cushion. It significantly reduces noise when going up and down the stairs.

The pad gives a nonslip surface under the runner on a slippery flight of stairs. The padding should be fitted to an inch less than the width of the runner or less so that it doesn’t peek out from underneath the stylish carpet above.

Carefully remove any old strips of tack strips, nails, carpeting glue or tacks if you are replacing carpeting on the stairs.

Install Carpet Without Tack Strips

For carpet that runs the entire length of the stairs, tension rods can be installed at the base of each stair. This will tighten the carpet so that it doesn’t bunch up as people travel up and down the staircase. Place a small amount of glue at the base of each stair as well as the top to keep the square of carpet firmly in place.

You can also carpet each stair separately just at the base where you step on the stair. It’s dramatic and sparse. Measure the length and width of the stair and cut the carpet to fit.

Place the carpet square on each glued area and press firmly. Work from the top of the staircase to the bottom stair, applying removable carpet glue with a glue gun as you go. For extra security, you can use small nails at each corner to ensure the carpet piece doesn’t curl up over time.