Wondering how to put a rug on stairs?? Here’s 10 Top Tips to help you install an area rug on stairs that will LOOK BEAUTIFUL & LAST FOR YEARS!
How Do You Put A Rug On Stairs?
Hi, guys! I’m back with another easy DIY project for you. Today, I have easy to follow tips for installing area rugs on stairs.
Don’t be intimidated by this project. It’s pretty easy. You just need a good attention to details, the right tools, and some patience.
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AND, it’s so worth it. In my opinion, nothing is more beautiful than an area rug on stairs. It always looks timeless, adds color and texture, and gives your stairs a unique look you’ll LOVE.
OK, let’s get started with those tips.
How To Use A Rug On Stairs, Like A Pro!
Ready to give your boring stairs a style upgrade? Here’s 10 easy tips to help you install a rug on stairs.
1. Use 3×5 Area Rugs On Wide Stairs
Typically, people use a rug runner on stairs. But, a rug runner is generally 24″ to 30″ wide. That would have looked too small on my 50″ wide steps. So, I like to use 3×5 rugs on wide stairs.
It takes a little more work to piece together a few 3×5 rugs on stairs. But, don’t let that worry you. It’s actually pretty easy when you know these 10 tips.
2. Use Painters Tape To Stay Straight
Using painter’s tape as a guide is the easiest way to keep your rug straight during install.
Use a tape measure or ruler to place a little painter’s tape on each step. You only need to place tape on 1 side of the stairs. Then remove the tape when you’re done.
3. Use The Right Carpet Pads
When you put a rug on stairs, you should always use a carpet pad on each step. A thin rug pad is really only designed to stop a rug from sliding around on a floor.
A real carpet pad provides a nice, soft feel underfoot. AND, a carpet pad gives the rug on your stairs a nice rounded look. A thin non-slip rug pad can’t do either of those things.
4. Cutting The Carpet Pad
You can use scissors to cut your carpet pad to the right size. The width of the pad should be the width of the rug minus any border.
The depth is about the depth of the stair tread. Cut the pad so that it stops about where the step starts to curve. You can see how I do this in the video below.
5. Sew The Border Under
When I have to use 2 or more rugs on stairs, I’ve tried cutting the top and bottom borders off. But, hiding that cut edge can be a huge pain.
I’ve found that folding the border over and sewing it down works a lot better for me. I use a curved upholstery needle and thick upholstery thread to just quickly stitch the border down.
A stitch every quarter of an inch or so should be fine. You can see me doing this in the video below too.
6. Use A Power Staple Gun
For years and years, I’ve been using a simple hand-powered staple gun for upholstery projects and installing carpet on stairs. It worked, but it really hurt my hand during long projects.
So, I finally decided it was time to get a powered staple gun. You can use an air compressor staple gun, battery-powered staple gun, or a plug-in stapler. It will save your hand and time!!
I ended up buying the Ryobi 18v Crown Stapler since I already have the battery. I have to say, I wish I had bought it sooner. And, I LOVE this staple gun. It made this project SO MUCH faster and easier.
7. Paint The Staples
The one thing you have to be careful about when you install a rug on stairs is VISIBLE staples.
The easiest way to stop your staples from showing is to pick an area rug with a nap of about 1/4″ or thicker. And, picking a multi-color rug also makes it easier to hide the staples.
Most traditional-style rugs, like mine, are multi-color and they have a nap that deep. But, some people prefer to use solid color, striped, or flat rugs (like natural-grass) on stairs.
If that’s you, try using a matching fingernail polish, paint marker, or sharpie to color the top of the staples before putting them into the staple gun. That should help those staples stay hidden.
8. 2 Places You Shouldn’t Use Staples
Similar to the last tip for how to use a rug on stairs, there are 2 KEY places to AVOID using staples.
The first place to avoid is on the border. Staples on a border are much harder to hide. So, I always staple on the rug, along the edge of the border.
The second place to avoid is on top of the carpet pad. Putting a staple in the rug over the carpet pad will compress the carpet pad at that spot causing a dimple, that looks bad.
So, I keep all of my staples on the riser and the left and right edges of the rug on the tread. Check out the video below to see me putting staples in the rugs I used on my stairs.
9. Get Needle Nose Pliers Or A Staple Remover
No matter how careful you are, you’ll end up needing to remove some of those staples. So, don’t forget to grab a staple remover or needle nose pliers before you get started.
Heavy-duty staple removers aren’t the same as the staple removers you find in an office. Check out the top heavy-duty staple removers on Amazon here.
10. Where To Start??
And, last but not least for my tips about how to use a rug on stairs, is about where to start and end a rug on stairs.
I see some people recommend starting at the top of the run of stairs, some say bottom. And, some say to do 1 rug from the top down, 1 from the bottom up, then fill in the middle.
I think, for beginners, it’s easier to only work in one direction, so that the rugs line up properly. Just, be sure you plan ahead where you want to hide the seem between 2 rugs.
It’s generally easiest to hide the seem where the riser meets a tread.
And, a final tip about where to start and stop. I start on the top tread, leaving the riser uncovered. Some people prefer to cover that top riser with a rug. There is no wrong way here. Pick the look you like best.
How Much I Spent
Now, let’s talk about how much I spent to get this beautiful, traditional look on our stairs. It was actually surprisingly cheap.
I used 5 – 3×5 area rugs on my stairs. Those rugs cost be less than $50 each. The carpet pad cost me about $60. So, I spent about $250 to install these area rugs on stairs in my home.
If you need help finding great, low price rugs, check out my list of the 20 Best Area Rugs On A Budget For Your Floor – From Amazon.
How To Install A Rug On Stairs: Video Guide
If any of the tips above aren’t clear, watch this video to see me showing the tips as I installed the 3×5 area rugs on stairs in my home.
That’s it for how to put a rug on stairs. Now, here’s a few more posts that will help you DECORATE your home.
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Feeling inspired? Now you’ve seen how to put a rug on stairs, get to work. And, good luck!
Stephanie Abbott has been remodeling homes, updating & building furniture, and working on DIY home maintenance and cleaning tips for over 20 years. Her remodeling has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. And, her DIY YouTube channel has had more than 8 million views.
Most of the DIY tutorials and videos on this site focus on beginner to intermediate level DIY Projects that can be done in an affordable way without high-end, expensive tools. All of the cleaning tips on this website have been tested in her home.