Attaching an Area Rug Runner To Stairs

What You'll Need
Stair runner
Tackless strips
Carpet pad
Carpet glue; latex
Carpet tacks; 3/4-inch
Knee kicker
Electric stapler
9/16-inch narrow-crown staples
Carpet tool
Rubber mallet
Carpet knife
Tin snips
Tape measure
Carpenter square

Installing an area rug runner on your stairs has long been a chore done by professionals in the carpet industry. Attaching an area rug runner to stairs is not difficult to do and these steps will show you how:

Step 1 - Tackless Strip

Measure the width of the runner you purchased and subtract that from the width of the stairs then divide that by two. Mark this distance on the stairs between the width of the runner.

You will need one tackless strip for each step you have in your project area. Use your tin snips to cut each tackless strip 2-inches shorter than the width of the runner but make sure there is a nail within 1 inch of each end.

Place a piece of scrap tackless strip against the back of the step then place a tackless strip in front of, center it, then butt it against the scrap with the pins facing the riser. Nail the riser in place and remove the scrap of wood. Repeat this step for each of the stairs in your project.

Step 2 - Installing Carpet Pad

Trim your carpet pad to the same size as the cut tackless runners and 3-inches longer than the depth of the tread.

Butt the pad in to the front edge of the tackless strip then nail the edge in place with a 9/16-inch staple every three inches apart. Pull the carpet pad tightly over the edge of the step below the one you're working on and staple in place every three inches in the underside of the edge.

Cut the carpet pad where the back of the step and the edge of the step meet.

Step 3 - Securing the Runner to the First Stair

Check the ends of the carpet runner with the square to make sure they are even. If they're not mark the runner then trim with the carpet knife from the back. Apply latex glue to the edges to stop fraying.

When the glue is dry unroll the runner up the staircase just enough to cover three stairs. Push the end of the carpet runner against the back of the first step being sure to line the runner up between the layout marks. Use the electric stapler to staple the carpet runner to the back of the step every 3 inches. 

Step 4 - Attaching Carpet Runner to the Strips

Line the carpet runner up with the layout marks on the first tackless strip then push it against the strip using your hand.

The knee kicker will be used to make the carpet runner stay in place. Put the front of the kicker in the middle of the carpet runner about two inches in front of the back of the stair. Use one hand to hold the front knob down and the other to keep the shaft of the kicker level. Use your knee to hit the kicker to attach the runner and repeat every three inches side to side.

If your efforts create a bulge in the carpet or it seems to not adhere then lift the runner straight up and attempt it again.

Step 5 - Fastening the Runner to the Back of the Stairs

Use the carpet tool and mallet to make the carpet runner flush against the back of the stair and the tackless strip. Staple the runner in the crease where the back of the stair meets the tread. Now, staple each edge of the carpet runner 2 inches above the bottom of the back of the step.

Repeats Step 4 and Step 5 until you reach the last step then cut the carpet runner flush against the underside of the edge of the top step. Put the latex carpet glue along the edges of the carpet runner then staple in place on the top of the back of the step every 3 inches.