How to Replace Carpet with an Inexpensive Stair Runner

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Replacing old, worn-out carpet on your stairs with a new stair runner can give your staircase a new look within cost-effective range. Stair runners are long, narrow rugs designed specifically to fit on staircases. They come in a variety of materials like sisal, jute, wool, nylon, and more.

Opting for an inexpensive material like sisal or jute can save you money over pricier materials. With some basic tools and materials, you can make it possible by yourself. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to replace carpet with an inexpensive stair runner.

8 Easy Steps to Replace Carpet with an Inexpensive Stair Runner

Replace Carpet with an Inexpensive Stair Runner

Step 1: Remove the Old Carpet

Start by pulling up the existing on the stairs carpet. Then, remove each staple or tack holding the carpet in place. Pull the carpet up from the top of the stairs working downward. Roll up the old carpet and dispose of it.

Now is also a good time to make any needed repairs to the stairs themselves. Inspect the wood carefully and fix any loose boards, creaky steps, or damage. Sand and paint as needed so your new stair runner will have a smooth surface to adhere to.

Step 2: Measure Your Stairs

You’ll need to measure your stairway carefully to determine what length runner you need to order. Measure each step individually for the most accuracy.

Start by measuring the depth of your stairs from the back to the front. Write this number down, as this will be the width you need your stair runner to be.

Next, measure the width of each step from side to side. Add up all these measurements to get your total length. Order a runner that is at least this length to make sure you have enough. It should be slightly longer than too short.

Step 3: Prepare the Surface

Once you have your measurements, use sandpaper to scuff up the surface of the stairs slightly. This helps the adhesive grip better. Vacuum up any dust.

Some additional preparation may be needed depending on your stairs:

  • For wood stairs, apply a layer of latex primer to seal the wood. Let dry completely.
  • For concrete stairs, apply a concrete primer to prevent moisture from seeping through.
  • For metal or tile, use an adhesive specifically made for those surfaces.

Step 4: Plan Your Layout

Map out how you’ll position the stair runner. Measure and mark the center point of each step. Align the center of your runner with these marks.

The runner should start right at the edge of the top step and overhang the bottom step slightly. Cutting it too short leaves gaps while cutting too long can create a tripping hazard.

Step 5: Cut Your Runner to Size

Replace Carpet with an Inexpensive Stair Runner

Roll your stair runner out face down on a flat, protected surface. Measure and cut it to your specifications using a sharp utility knife. A staircase with 13 steps cut to 36 inches wide will need a runner around 13 feet long.

Trim the round carpet slowly and carefull to ensure straight edges. Round the corners of the runner slightly once trimmed to size so they don’t peel up over time.

Step 6: Adhere to the Runner

Now comes the time to stick down your stair runner! There are a few different methods and adhesives you can use.

For sisal or jute, use a rubber cement like Roberts 6700. Apply a layer to both the stairs and the back of the runner. Let it tack up for 10-15 minutes until dry to the touch. Then carefully position your runner and press down firmly.

For vinyl or nylon, opt for a multi-surface adhesive like Roberts 1406. Tuck the edges into the stair grooves to hold them in place as the glue dries. Place weights on the runner to flatten it as the adhesive sets. Let the adhesive cure fully before walking on the runner, usually 24-48 hours.

Step 7: Anchor the Edges

Once fully adhered, it’s important to anchor the runner edges to ensure they stay securely in place. Use a cordless trim nailer with 3/8” staples to tack down the edges every few inches.

Alternatively, a hammer and small tacks can also work if you don’t have a nail gun. Be careful not to split the wood. You can also glue small triangular edge pieces along the sides. This covers up the edges for a cleaner look.

Step 8: Seal and Finish the Edges

The last and most crucial step is to apply an acrylic caulk bead along the edges of the runner. Tool the caulk with your finger to smooth it out. This seals the edges to prevent curling or peeling.

For extra hold, run a bead of construction adhesive under the edges too. Wipe up any excess with a damp rag once dry.

And that’s it! Your stairs now have a stylish yet inexpensive new look. The sisal carpet is durable and can withstand regular foot traffic. Simply vacuum it regularly to maintain the fresh appearance of your new stair runner.


Replacing worn carpet with a stair runner is an easy, budget-friendly way to update your staircase. But, you need to know how to replace carpet with an inexpensive stair runner without creating any wrong choice. With a little time and elbow grease, you can quickly transform your stairs. No special skills or expensive materials are needed! Just follow these steps and you’ll have an attractive new focal point everyone will notice. Discover high-quality carpets online in Dubai to begin your staircase makeover today.