With the installation of the carpet stair runner, the LONGEST stair makeover of all time is finally done! After debating how we would accomplish it, we decided to go ahead and install a carpeted runner. Tabby was sliding all around, and the thought of Emma slipping someday was making me nervous. I think bare wood stairs are absolutely gorgeous, but the bamboo material we chose is quite slippery. It just doesn’t have the grip of real hardwoods, but is beautiful nonetheless! It was a long process to get ready to add some plush comfiness underfoot though – we started with pulling out our old nasty carpet and the 7,000 staples it was attached with, fixing the stair treads when what we had left something to be desired, and finally got all of the prep work done for finished stairs. So, if you are interested in installing your own carpet stair runner, read on!
The whole project took about 15 hours, if you count those countless trips to the home improvement store that are REQUIRED for every single DIY project.
- Ripping out the old carpet (1 hr)
- Removing the leftover staples (2 hrs)
- Cutting the new risers to size (1 hr)
- Installing the new risers (1 hr)
- Cutting the stair caps to size (1 hr)
- Installing the new stair caps (1 hr)
- Installing the flooring on the treads (2 hrs)
- Installing the cove molding (1 hr)
- Paint the stair trim (30 mins times 2 coats, so 1 hr)
- Measure and install carpeted stair runner (2 hrs)
Here’s a general cost of the project, though I think ours is a bit more expensive than normal since our stairs were in really bad shape after I pulled the original carpet off.
- Three runners (here’s an affiliate link to the exact ones we used): $280.00
- Hand stapler and staples: $0 (we had this already, but if you need one it would probably be around $30)
- Wood for the stair risers: $50
- Flooring and stair caps: $560 (if your stairs aren’t in as bad of shape as ours, you won’t need these)
- Primer and paint for the risers and trim: $0 (we had this already as well, but it would probably be around $50 if you needed to buy some)
TOTAL: $890, but you could definitely do it for around $360 (or less!) if your stairs aren’t in as bad of shape
Finishing the stairs
When I last updated everyone, we had removed the carpet and staples, replaced the damaged risers with new ones, painted the caps, but still needed to finish off a few tasks before we were ready to paint. We still needed to cut all the cove trim pieces to the appropriate widths, cut all the flooring pieces and install them on each step, glue everything down, nail in the cove pieces, caulk, paint everything white, and take a VERY long nap.
Fortunately, with a little bit of teamwork, we knocked it out. Aaron held the baby while I cut all the cove pieces and glued everything down. DIY is definitely harder with kids than without (especially small ones), but we’ve found a way to make it work. I will say that we didn’t do much of anything for the first few months with Emma around, and only recently have we found our energy to finish up a few projects. That newfound energy led up to paint our first coat of glorious, clean, white paint, caulk a bit, and bask in the glory that is a fresh, clean set of stairs!
Finally! There’s definitely some touch up to be done (more caulk!), but for the sad state that our stairs were in, I’m pretty happy with the result. It brightens up the stairwell SO much – I can’t seem to catch it on camera, but it’s absolutely beautiful compared to the before. All that was left was to pick out and install our stair runner. Below is what I narrowed it down to. Originally, I wanted to go with an abstract horizontal stripe, but after the search of a lifetime and not being able to source that rug, I decided to go another direction.
finding the perfect rug
We have an awful lot of grey in our house since we chose to paint ALL the walls in our great room, entryway, stairwell, office, and upstairs hallway the same color. I knew that it was a safe option, and I stand by it, but we definitely could use a little color around here. At the same time, I wanted to use something that would somewhat fade into the background as a neutral, since stair runners aren’t easily changed. Other than that, I looked for something with a low pile (Tabby’s claws do a number on looped fabrics), with a bit of a pattern to hide stains, and something modern. I narrowed it down to these six beauties.
I fell in love with the last one – a beautiful blue rug with a nod to Persian influences. I love the patterns in these more ‘traditional meets modern’ rugs that are available nowadays. Our house’s architecture is definitely on the traditional side, but I love something a little more modern, so this one stole my heart. And the best part? It’s from Target, guys. Affordable and beautiful. I ended up using three of these.
installing the carpet stair runner
- Start the runner by securing it with a few stapes at the top, making sure it was centered
- Staple the runner in as close as I could get to the risers of each step (not attaching the runner to the tread since bamboo is super hard and likes to split)
- Wrap the lip around and pull taught, being careful not to pull harder on one side than another to make sure everything stayed straight
- Shoot in one or two staples while I double check that everything is still centered (our steps vary greatly from tread to tread in terms of width, so just taping guidelines wouldn’t have worked)
- Repeat steps 2-4 for each step until I got to the end of a piece of runner
- When I got to the end of a piece of the runner, I just used regular ol‘ scissors to cut the thicker fabric binding at the end and repeated the process on the new runner so they would look seamless when they butted up against each other. It’s best to try to do this at a corner or where you can’t see the seam very well, but I had no issues hiding it with as busy of a pattern as our runner has.
- Then, I would continue on with steps 2-6 until I got to the bottom of the stairs. At the last step, I aligned everything so it was straight, and cut clean across the bottom.
A lot of tutorials out there said to wrap the bottom of the runner underneath itself so you have a nice, tidy edge. Our runner was so thick, though, that it would have looked incredibly bulky and cumbersome compared to how tight it was on the rest of the steps. I also decided to not try to wrap it around the tile on the bottom two steps, and it isn’t weird at all. I was worried it would look incomplete or like I didn’t finish the job if I didn’t continue it down, but it looks great.
I am so thrilled with how much safer the entire thing feels, and how soft the carpet is underfoot. We haven’t had any issues with stains or dirt yet (even with an 80lb dog and a toddler!), but with such a busy pattern, I expect to be able to hide any stains that show up well. The flat weave had stood up well to Tabby’s claws, and we’ve had zero issues with fraying, scratchiness, etc.
Above is a picture of how the two rugs meet since I didn’t have the normal setup that a lot of people do. Normally, you would wrap the fabric underneath the stair tread (where it isn’t visible), but with the shallowness of the lip of each tread on our stairs, that wasn’t possible. Thank goodness for a busy pattern, because I think without it, the seam would look terrible. I just shoved them as close together as I could and stapled everything to within an inch of its life. Close up, you can see the seam, but in everyday life, and to the average passerby, it looks like one seamless piece of carpeting.
I absolutely love the way it has brightened up our entryway and adore the cheeriness it brings to the house. It just feels SO much cleaner than what we started with (ps: I have big plans to stain that railing, but that will have to wait for another day!).
Have you ever dreamed of ripping that nasty old carpet off your stairs? Anybody else out there that hates pulling staples out? This was definitely a more involved project than I realized when we started due to the shape of our stairs. I’m so glad it’s done so now we can enjoy it!
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