DIY: Stair Runner

I've mentioned before that one of the first things we did after moving in was pull out the horrible red commercial grade carpeting that covered most of the garden level (other than the floors in my office), including the stairs that go up to the living room.


I loathed this carpet and we were relieved to see that the wood under the carpet was in salvageable condition in most places. But when we started pulling off the carpet on the stairs, we were in a different boat. The wood was full of holes and was covered in paint spills and brush marks.


I like the look of a painted stair tread anyway, so I happily painted the stairs white (well, mostly...) before laying down the stair runner (which is really just a bunch of IKEA rugs)! Much better right?


Here's the full run down:

I've come to love and appreciate the power of a sanding block in an old house. Everything in my house looks better after a good rub down with a sanding block! (it'll clean up old bathroom tiles like you wouldn't believe!) I cleaned up as much of bumps and the uneven parts here on the stairs as possible.



Then I primed and painted just the edges of each step. I was going to paint the whole width, but then I though it might be better to leave the wood in case the owner refinishes the floors in the future.



It's CRAZY how much brighter and cleaner the stairwell felt with just those few inches of white paint!

Once the paint was dry, I pulled out a few of these rug grippers I had picked up at the doller store a few months earlier. I swear, the hoarder comes out in me when I go to dollar stores and Target's dollar spot! Bad news. But it worked out for me in this instance.



This particular rug pad was the exact size as my stair's tread and it was sticky on the top and bottom, so everything was really held in place.



When I ran out of the special rug pads, I move to a runner-sized non-sticky rug pad that I cut to size, and that also worked really great. To tell you the truth I can't tell much of a difference between the stairs with the sticky rug pad and cheapie regular rug pad. So either works well.


So for the actual rug installation, I used four of these runners from IKEA. They were $25 each and I could get about 3.5 steps done per runner. I started at the TOP of my stairs and used a brad gun with 3/4" brads to secure the runner to just the underside of the step lip.



I put in one brad every 2-3" along the width of the stair tread. The rug pads helped the runner stay in place on the riser and the top of the tread, where there were no brads. When I got to the end of my runner, I trimmed off the rolled edge.


Without the rolled edge, it's easier to layer the start of a new runner on top more seamlessly.


Then you just line up the rolled edge of the next runner and staple in place.



I'll admit, I got a little sloppy when I was doing this project and I wasn't super-duper exact with my lines. From the top of the stairs, you can see the stipes wander a little bit near the center. :( It's not that bad in person, but in this photo, I pretty much want to pull out all the brads up to the middle portion and fix it this second. We'll see how long it'll last crooked I guess.  Learn from my mistake! Measure your edges. Mark it out with chalk maybe to make it a little easier on yourself?


Anyway, the fourth runner was a little short. I could have bought a fifth runner and cut it up for just this bottom riser, but I decided I kind of liked the runner starting a little higher off the floor. I'm calling it a happy mistake. :)



Then to finish up the look and to make sure the runner were completely secure on the stairs, I used three black nail heads (just eye-balled) on each tread (none on the risers). I thought about doing brass, but I really like the tone on tone happening with the black nail head on the charcoal weave. It's a more subtle look.





We've been loving our revamped stairs for a couple weeks now, and I am happy with the look and how it's wearing! The dark shows less dirt than I was worried about, and the stairs are much safer now, and about a million times quieter.



One other thing we did was apply Restor-A-Finish to all the floors that were under the old carpet, and they look SO much better. Much less dry. (compared to a few photos up)



I love seeing the stripes peeking into the living room. :)


So with the four runners, three packs of nail head trim and a couple dollar store rug pads, I think this project came in under $125.


So worth it!



PS the vintage runner in the hall was a flea market find. It's really long and I was hoping I could use it as a stair runner originally, but we were about three feet too short. Bummer.

PPS Another project from the garden level.

67 comments:

Anna (A Newfound Treasure) said...

It looks incredible! Love this so much!!!

Wendy C said...

Brilliant as always!I wish I could bottle your energy & skills!

Wendy C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julia {Pawleys Island Posh} said...

This looks so great. I think I might try this for our stairs too!

Angela N said...

LOVE this!! Looks fantastic! And for not very much $$. Great thinking.

Elizabeth @ The Little Black Door said...

Genius! Looks like a million bucks!

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry but... how do you clean it?

alison g. said...

As always, I'm amazed what you accomplish (esp. with three littles!)
alison

Elisa said...

You did a marvelous job! I'd love to emulate it but I have a landing making a u turn in my stairs and haven't a clue how to navigate that one...anyway, I love it!!

Heidi said...

Stunning Jenny! I've had this project on the To-Do List for over a year now and think this is giving me the final push I need to get it done! Thanks for the (beautiful) motivation.

Live Inspired,

Heidi Chamoun
athousandlaughingstarfish.blogspot.com

Heidi said...

Did you put a line of brads where the riser and treads meet on the bottom of the riser? Your runner looks so crisp and tight but I would think it'd pucker up with only brads under the lip of the tread. Thanks Jenny!

Live Inspired,

Heidi Chamoun
athousandlaughingstarfish.blogspot.com

Christine Dovey said...

This is truly incredible- I'm VERY inspired to try this in my own home!!!

heather weber said...

Bravo Jenny!

Toots said...

You are a wonder. I wish someone like you had been around to inspire and instruct when I was young. The stairs look great now.

Megan @ Rappsody in Rooms said...

Oooo how clever! I would have never thought to do that. It looks really nice. I say live with the wandering lines. I think homes are meant to be imperfect!

OliviaKyle said...

Wow! You get me everytime!

Bethany [at] Powell Brower Home said...

Jenny - FANTASTIC!!! you are so good with the multiple Ikea rug thing! wowwwwww

casey at loft and cottage said...

Beautiful! I really love the choice of the dark nailheads too.

Marielle said...

Gorgeous. Handsome. Clever. Impressive.

Kelly said...

What a difference! I would have never thought of using cheap old ikea runners, but it looks so fantastic. Pinning.

Nancy said...

You are brilliant! I love this and the use of runners from IKEA!
xo Nancy
Powellbrowerhome.com

charmaine said...

It looks great! Love it!

Kristin Jackson said...

Yet another genius project. Now I just need a house with stairs to try this on! Amazing Jenny.

Kristin | the Hunted Interior

Anonymous said...


Looks great, love the hallway runner adds a burst of color at the bottom of the stairway. this is an excellent idea for a rental, at these prices if there's a stain you could swap out the runner for another. Brillant. Could you ask your landlord to install a handrail, I'm worried about your kiddies!

Emmie {Blue11} said...

What a great idea! I love how it turned out!

K @ Shift Ctrl ART said...

This looks absolutely wonderful. Love it!

Rachael said...

You are so creative and talented! It is amazing!

kstyle said...

That looks spectacular. Love the black and white and clean edited look. Beautiful!
k

Design_Fluff said...

This turned out nicely! I can't even see the irregularities that you tried to point out.

Kim@Chattafabulous said...

Brilliant - and I love the stripes with the antique runner you found - a great mix!

www.chattafabulous.blogspot.com

Margaret F said...

I love it! I really wouldn't have noticed the *slight* crookedness if you wouldn't have pointed it out. It looks so chic! Xo

Ginger said...

YOU AMAZE ME! They look so, so good!!

Barbie said...

The imperfect stripes don't bother me at all. Another homerun!

Elyse | Peonies and Brass said...

I can't believe these are ikea runners. It essentially means ANYONE could do this. I really wish I had indoor stairs now!

The Full MOXiE said...

Jenny! This is fab! Your landlord must thank god every day you moved in!!

I would fix the crooked part, it would drive me nuts. But what a massive improvement!!

Sarah Barksdale Design said...

The runner looks great! I am impressed at how good it looks even despite the slight crookedness.I would have never guessed these were small rigs put back-to back.

Kate Galston said...

Wonderful! You make me wish I had stairs!

Naomi@DesignManifest said...

phenomenal. I ripped up my stair carpet as well and found the wood to be in good condition from 1st to 2nd, but not so much 2nd to 3rd. I was thinking about just painting it but maybe I could tackle this. Plus I worry about my poor aging pug and the bare stairs.

then again you do make it seem so easy. I was painting my slab kitchen doors this weekend and cursing my sloppy hands :)

Janna McCalley said...

Brilliant! Black and white always looks so classy!

Lisa said...

Jenny, Such a cost effective idea. A good alternative to just painting the stairs for added safety and less stomping of little feet. You are amazing!

Mandi V. said...

If you ever get tired of the happy mistake of the runner starting a little bit off the floor, you could super easily and cheaply throw up a piece of trim just along that one one riser.

Kimberly said...

This looks amazing. I would love to do this to my stairs, but our upstairs is carpeted. I wonder if it would look bad to have this leading up to a carpeted upstairs? Hmmm...now you have me thinking.

Lisa Mackay said...

Oh my goodness, I wish I had your brain - how do you think of this stuff? Now I want to do this immediately in our house!

Anonymous said...

you are freaking amazing. i LOVE posts like this.
genius.

josie

Sadie + Stella said...

This looks incredible. You are a genius. Truly.

Anonymous said...

Would love for you to give more info about restore-a finish and the process. Our floors so, so, so! need to be refinished but I cant stand the thoughts of moving everything out and dust everywhere.

Mia Lynn said...

Jenny! Beautiful job! I was wondering what you were going to do with all those rugs you had on the bottom of your shopping cart!!! Bravo!
Perhaps you could paint the white strip of stair a fun color so it looks like the end of the runner? just an idea! wonderful job, yet again!!

Jessica said...

This is amazing! I've been wanting to line the stairs to or basement but haven't found anything I like...until now. Truly incredible.

marie b said...

The black nail heads are my favorite part of the project! And I love the vintage runner. The colors are so joyfull.

Fine Portrait Broker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fine Portrait Broker said...

So smart + chic, as always!

When might we get to own a book with all your ideas?

xx,
Courtney @ Fine Portrait Broker
Richmond, VA

Sami said...

What a great job, looks wonderful!

Abbey said...

Fantastic!!!

{Hi Sugarplum!} said...

You blog my mind. Every. Single. Time.

Anonymous said...

Truly, an incredible transformation! Mind. Blown. !!!

merrynunnari said...

Great job! Looking at small brad nailers and impressed how this worked magic here.

Shavonda said...

Such an awesome transformation!

Ann said...

Genius, as always! How do you come up with these things?!

Also, I'm a total hoarder, you never know when you'll need it. We have a very little storage room here in Japan and you can barely open it but I will say, I've never needed to run to the store for odds and ends like packaging tape. :)

Lisa @ Shine Your Light said...

Thank you for this tutorial Jenny. Installing a runner is on my long list of to-dos, and I really appreciate all the details like the rug pad under the runner and the brad nails. Love the nailhead trim too - that is such a nice detail.

tessa @twoinspiredesign said...

This is brilliant! Thanks for sharing all the steps (as usual)...I'd feel so proud of myself every time I walked down those stairs!

EDYTA & CO. INTERIOR DESIGN said...

Amazing!!! Love the end result! Modern & chic

Xo edyta
Www.edytaandco.com/blog/

Tom said...

The stairs look much better. The white brightens up the look and the runner is unique. They also appear to be safer this way, which is important if they lead to the living room.

Teresa said...

Loooooove this! I need to do this too!

Michelle said...

You're a genious! It looks great.

Kim Martin said...

This looks great! I'm actually thinking of doing the same thing with the main staircase of my home, but I was a bit hesitant to paint the stairs. Not anymore! Thanks for being such an awesome inspiration!

Jill said...

I'm in LOVE with it!

Marie Roxanne said...

I love this runner! Thanks for the tutorial and the tips on why measuring is so needed especially with stripes!
What a great idea to use multiple of the same rug to create that stair runner, I wouldn't have thought of that!

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