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How To Put A Rug On Stairs LIKE A PRO: 10 Must-See Tips!

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.

Image of a 3x5 area rug on wooden stairs. For a post with tips for how to put a rug on stairs, like a pro.

Some links on this post are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. 

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.

A 3x5 area rug on a wide set of stairs before installing the rug on stairs.
My stairs are over 4′ wide, so a 2′ wide rug runner would have looked too small. Instead, I used 3 – 3×5 area rugs to cover this section of stairs.

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.

Painters tape and a tape measure on stairs.
Painters tape and a tape measure is all you need to make sure your rug stays straight during install.

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.

A plush carpet pad from a store like Lowes or Home Depot works best under rugs on stairs.
Scissors work great on this 6×8 carpet pad from Lowes flooring department.

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.

Cutting a carpet pad to fit a stair tread.

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.

RECOMMENDED: See my DIY Upholstery Tutorials here.

I use a curved upholstery needle and thread to sew under the top and bottom borders on a rug.

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!!

Using a Ryobi Crown Stapler to put a rug on stairs in a home.
The Ryobi Crown Stapler made installing this rug so much easier on my hand.

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.

See The RYOBI 18V Crown Stapler On Amazon.

Taping staples in with a hammer.
I lightly tap staples with a hammer to make sure they’re as tight as possible.

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.

Try using nail polish, paint markers, or sharpies to paint the staple tops to match your rug.

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.

A staple on the rug border being installed on stairs.
You can see here that the staple blends in way better on the rug than it does on the rug border.

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.

Image of 3 area rugs used as a rug runner on stairs.
I like to have to keep the top riser and bottom riser uncovered when I install an area rug on stairs.

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.

Top 10 DIY Tips For How To Use A Rug On Stairs LIKE A PRO!

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.

Image of a 3x5 area rug on wooden stairs. For a post with tips for how to put a rug on stairs, like a pro.

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Feeling inspired? Now you’ve seen how to put a rug on stairs, get to work. And, good luck!