Not sure if you want a carpeted or exposed wood staircase? Have both with a stair runner!
Stair runners are one of my favourite staircase ideas and an interiors obsession. They look great, they are practical, and you can have a lot of fun designing them. You get the warmth and comfort of a carpet but still get to show off the craftmanship of your staircase.
The cost of a stair runner can vary greatly. On the lower end you can get it supplied and fitted for around £400 but this can increase greatly to thousands of pounds with higher-end materials and accessories like stair rods.
Instead of spending hundreds (or thousands) on a single project, I recently finished my own DIY staircase runner for £17.50 using some left-over underlay, staples and some Ikea door mats (opens in new tab). Here is how I did it.
Step 1 – Prepare your staircase
To start we needed to prepare the staircase before the runner is installed. If your stairs are carpeted, the carpet needs to be removed.
To remove the carpet you will need some safety gloves, a hammer and plyers. Wearing the gloves, use the plyers to grab a corner of the carpet on the top of the step. Pull the carpet away and be careful not to hurt yourself on the carpet gripper below (believe me these things are lethal and I always catch my hand on them!). Use the hammer to remove the carpet grippers and set aside in a safe place. I recommend starting at the top of the staircase and working your way down to avoid any incidents with exposed carpet grippers or staples.
The structure of most domestic staircases is made from wood or MDF. If you have a good quality wooden staircase you may want to leave it exposed to show the wood grain. If the staircase is made from MDF this will need painting with a durable and wipeable paint.
My staircase had a low quality wooden step with painted MDF kick boards so I decided to paint everything in a white satin paint. Satin paint is very durable and wipeable. To save yourself time you do not need to paint the areas that will be covered by the runner. If there are any gaps between the steps and kick boards fill them using a paintable flexible sealant like a good quality caulk.
- See also: 21 of our favourite IKEA hacks
Step 2 – Add an underlay
This hack uses door mats to give the illusion of a runner but to get the thick luxurious carpet feel we need to use underlay (opens in new tab). First of all I used 2x rolls of Ikea’s Anti slip underlay “STOPP” normally used for rugs and door mats, cost of £5. This stops any movement of the underlay/runner above. I simply lay it onto the stairs and secured it to the step and kick board using a staple gun.
I then fitted some thick cushion type underlay on the steps that is the same width as the door mats that I am using. To me the thick underlay is what makes it feel more luxurious and is definitely more comfortable every time you go up and down the stairs, this will also help with sound proofing. I used some leftover underlay I had from a previous project for this however you can use any underlay you just removed from your carpeted stairs or pick up 2x rolls of Ikea’s “STOPP FILT” underlay while you are there for £4.
The thick underlay goes on top of the antislip matt and is secured in place using the staplegun around the sides and centre.
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Step 3 – Doormat becomes runner
The final step is to add the door mat on top of the underlay. The door mat is used is called “KLEJS (opens in new tab)” from Ikea and is a bargain price of £1.50 per mat. I calculated that I needed 10 for my stairs by measuring the height and length of each step and then multiplying by the number of steps. The mat is 50cm wide which makes it perfect runner size and the edges are already seamed. You could use a any mat or long runner rug to do this, just make sure it has some sort of a repeatable pattern or is solid.
To attach these, starting from the bottom with the mat turned upside down I stapled the mat to the bottom of the kickstand with a one inch overlap. The reason for doing this with the mat upside down is to hide as many of the staples as possible and it creates a nice tidy edge. You want to apply the staples as low on the kick stand as possible.
The next step is to secure the mat the right side up at the top of the kickstand. Keeping the mat tight against the kickstand staple all along the mat below the lip of the step.
For the step, wrap the mat around the underlay tight and staple as far into the corner as possible. Make sure to do a neat line of staples, around 1 every 5cm all along the back of the step as this is the area that will take the brunt of the traffic up and down the stairs.
With the dimensions of my staircase, one mat was enough to cover 2 kickstands and one step (or vice versa). Before you finish the first section, start the next section with the next mat and then complete the first section of top of that. This will hide any edges on the short side being seen.
This has been on my staircase for 6 months now with no issues and I am so pleased with it. The total cost for the project was £20 for 10 mats and underlay. If you wanted to take the runner to the next level add some stair rods with the money you’ve saved on the runner and installation!