How to Install Carpet on Wood Stairs

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When you want carpet wood stairs, you have a couple of options available. You can lay runners so the carpet is cut in narrow strips so that it doesn’t reach the edges or you can lay a full section of carpet covering the entire stairs.


Run a thorough check-up and down your stairs to find old tacks, staples, or nails sticking out of the wood. Remove any dangerous sharp objects that might be sticking up from the stairs and smooth down any rough areas. If the stairs have previously been carpeted and you are replacing the carpet, remove all the old tack strips and nails.

Measuring the Carpet

Work out your linear carpet measurements according to the depth of your stair height and runners. If you are joining the carpet at the top of the stairs to an existing piece of carpet, leave a clean join so that you can blend them together seamlessly. When you reach the bottom, make sure there is enough carpet to reach the floor.

Tack Strips

Mark the center of each stair runner and nail a tack strip from the center to the back of each stair. It is best to work from the top down when doing this part of the project. Leave approximately ¾ of an inch gap on the sides of each stair tread.

The Risers

Measure the center of each riser and nail a tackless strip to the front side of each riser at the very top, also leaving a gap of about ¾ of an inch from the top edge.


Cut a strip of underlay for each stair and tack one piece each to the risers and the runners. Staple the underlay using the staple gun, keeping each staple approximately 6” inches apart.

Laying the Carpet

Take the length of the carpet and loosely lay it up the stairs. Starting from the bottom, work from the lowest riser and tack the carpet to the bottom of the lowest riser on the stairs. Use the carpet tool to tighten the carpet into the tack strip and then tack the bottom of the carpet to the lowest part of the bottom riser.

Working upwards, pull the carpet over the top of the stair riser and onto the next runner. Tug tightly and use the knee kicker to stretch the carpet into the tack strip on the second stair. Use the carpet tool and hammer to press the carpet into the tack strip to secure it. Continue to the top stair until you meet the joint at the top of the stairs. Use a tackless strip on the top of the final riser and secure the carpet edge to it. Tack the carpet with tacks set about 3” inches apart. Use the utility knife to leave a clean seamless joint between the two adjoining carpets.