A Runner Shapes Up a Tired Staircase

Before and after photos of a home stairway New treads, risers, and a runner dress up this old staircase. All images in this post: Rhoda at Southern Hospitality

You’ll want to walk all over this DIY tread and runner install.

Rhoda, chief blogger and home renovator at Southern Hospitality, loves her split-level home in Atlanta. Her four staircases, not so much.

So she replaced the treads — all 25 of them — covering the new ones with a cool indoor/outdoor runner. The runner adds punch to the staircase, and also protects the new treads and softens footfalls.

You may not want to replace the treads in your tired staircases, but you can wake them up with a runner. The install is easy — nothing some double-sided carpet tape and a staple gun can’t handle.

Here’s how Rhoda did it.

Rhoda’s dad was chief carpenter on the project, and built new stair treads from 1-inch-thick pine. He also covered the worn, beat-up risers with ¼-inch plywood to create fresh, clean surfaces for painting. (Before renovating stairs, make sure any alterations comply with your local building codes, which can be picky about treads and risers.)

Stained board

Rhoda was chief nailer and painter, and covered each tread with three coats of Valspar’s Porch and Floor paint in Fired Earth ($18/qt.) with a satin finish. Renovating all the treads cost about $250.

To carpet the stairs, Rhoda used soft, diamond-pattern runners from Dash & Albert ($105 for a 2.5-by-8-foot runner). She centered the runners on the treads, leaving exposed wood on each side. Because her stairways are different widths, she had to trim the sides on two of the stairway installations, and had a carpet store bind the edges to prevent fraying.

Here’s the installation how-to:

1. Outline the path of the runner — on the risers and treads — with double-sided carpet tape ($12 for 75 feet). This stabilizes the runner while you’re stapling it to the stairs, and cuts down on staples.

2. Staple the top of the runner to the top riser just under the nose of the top tread (it’s OK to let the binding show at the top).

3. Wrap the runner over the nose of the first tread, and staple it to the nose from underneath.

4. Continue wrapping and stapling down the stairs.

5. Keep measuring to make sure the runner continues to be centered while you install.

6. If you must add fabric to the runner, trim the last piece of runner so it folds over the nose of a tread. The cut edge might fray, but that’ll be covered up by the edge of the next runner. Turn over the edge of the next runner and staple it to the underside of the tread.

Rug binding

Binding under

7. Finish the install on the last riser just above the trim.

Bottom step

I love the finished product. Dark treads against the white risers, then topped with the warm runner. Installing the runner turns this staircase into a winner in only 2 hours.

”Final result

Check out our other staircase makeover spotlights:

Bead Board Risers Sweeten This Stairway
How a Clever Mom Turned a Stairway Into Storage
A Stairway Gets a New Look Using Ordinary Brown Paper

Now, vote for your favorite!

Be sure to check out our other amazing project series, including our laundry room makeovers and our fabulous pantry projects.

Send us your staircase projects and tips. Include them in the comments section.