Decorative Or Practical? Make Your House’s Staircase Look Gorgeous With Stair Runner Ideas!

It can be less challenging to accept a house’s staircase as a present when it is beautifully wrapped.

A carpet or stair runner can serve a decorative or practical purpose—or both. For instance, some runners provide padding and muffle the sound of footsteps, while others offer unlimited creativity through paint-color choices.

A stair runner is a type of carpet that covers the steps of two sets of stairs. Runners come in an assortment of colors and patterns and are also available in different widths.

A runner can be helpful in any home, but it’s best if you keep your design scheme in mind. For example, sisal is perfect for a coastal cottage but not appropriate for an old Victorian mansion.

Why Add A Stair runner?

cheetah modern stair runners ideas

One of the most common reasons for adding a runner to a staircase is safety. Slippery stairs, especially where there are kids or people with mobility issues in the house, can be dangerous without one.

A runner on the stairs helps households avoid the dangers and annoyance of stairways with an unprotected landing. Adding a runner also adds softness to balance out the hard surfaces that are found in every home.

Finally, a stair runner provides your home with style. The correct carpet will create the perfect focal point in a staircase, but you have to choose the right one for success.

There are two ways to go about tackling stairs on your runner: pre-made runners, which often have a pattern like braided or bordered, and custom-made runners.

Point Of Stair Runner Ideas

These are points that you should keep in mind before installing a stair runner in your home.

Stair Runner Width

custom stair runners corner with striped rug

When choosing a staircase runner, the most common question is how wide it should be. Of course, the width will depend on the type of stairs you have.

For stairs that are about three feet wide, we recommend a runner width of approximately 27 inches. A narrow enough width so that you don’t feel like you’re walking on a small strip and not too wide to overpower the stairs.

If the width of your stairs is 4 feet or 5 feet and runners are desired, choosing a runner that is 32-inches or 33 1/2-inches preserves both sides of the steps

For custom staircases, think about using a runner that is customized to your specific needs. This way, you can get one made to the correct size and pick out exactly what material best suits you.

Stair Runner Type Of Pattern

geometric pattern stair runners ideas

There are many different types of runners to choose from. For example, some patterns work well on stairs, while others don’t work due to how they fold over the stairs.

If you have a staircase with curves or corners, that’s an even greater concern.

A straight staircase is not the best option for decorating your stairs with patterns. Patterns designed with curves are better suited to a curved staircase.

When matching a linear pattern on a staircase, be sure to take into account any possible imperfections. If the pattern does not work out according to plan, you should have it professionally installed by someone specializing in staircase craftsmanship.

Non-geometric patterns, such as abstracts or the flowers found in Oriental rugs, can be a better choice for stairs. These designs don’t need to be lined up right next to each other like geometrics do, making them easier and creating an attractive look when finished.

Runner Pattern Size

bright stair runner ideas and wooden step

It is best to go with smaller patterns for a stair runner. Large designs will be lost, and the carpet pattern on the side of each stair will look uneven because it curves around. In addition, smaller designs complement every twist in each step.

When you are on a narrow staircase, including a small pattern can make the stairway seem wider. This is because your mind interprets multiple repeat images in different areas of continuous space or empty material as bigger when it sees them at once.

Custom Runner

sisal stair runner vertical angle with natural color

If you are interested in a runner with no pattern or something more subtle (such as one created by cut and loop style), broadloom is your best bet. The runner can be ordered however you would like (cut to size) then finished on the sides with binding or serging.

Renting a runner for your stairs is always more expensive than custom-making it with broadloom. However, you don’t need to buy a lot of carpets, so you may be able to purchase a discounted remnant and have it made to whatever size you want.

It’s not necessary to buy remnant runners that are long and narrow. Runners for staircases typically come in pieces. Even pre-made runners can be cut into appropriate lengths before installation.

Finding remnants can be helpful for stair runners; they will essentially act as one long runner when any seams have been clipped off.

Stair Treads

stripped stair runner ideas on laminate wooden step

There are a few options for stair carpeting. Covering the tread of stairs with a runner and leaving the risers uncovered creates a different overall effect than covering the whole stair step. This can be an appealing option in more minimalistic or modern homes.

Decorative Rods Stair

stair runner ideas with decorative rods

It’s possible to install a rod in front of the stair runner by installing it at the point where the riser meets the tread (pictured above). Unlike with some runners, this rod is not meant to hold the runner in place.

Installing a runner can be done using staples, homemade tackless, or any other stable means the installer deems appropriate. The rod is merely decorative and optional, with rods usually capped off on either end by an ornamental center.


contemporary stair runner ideas

Despite the size of carpet runners, they require a cushion under them to protect your floors. It should be thin to ensure it doesn’t raise the height of the runner.

Carpet runners need to be dense to adequately support the runner and prevent undue movement when someone walks on the carpet.

A slim pad of half an inch thickness is ideal when installing a runner. However, rubber pads are often used because they are firm and dense.

The runner should always be wider than the stair to have a tighter fit against the steps. In addition, this ensures that the underpad will not show up when someone looks at an open staircase from either side.

Best Of Stair Runner Ideas

Look through our best stair runner ideas to inspire your own custom stair runner.

Stair Runner Accessorizing Ideas

unique stair runner ideas

Adding a touch of elegance to your stair runner is a great way to differentiate the entryway from other parts of your home. Brass rods or tacks that complement the rug pattern are a stylish alternative and add an upscale feel.

Wide edging and contrasting borders make for an interesting contrast between the runner surface and the treads and risers.

Give a neutral wool stair runner some flair by adding a narrower band of cotton binding in a red, blue, or any other color that matches your room’s color scheme.

A plain jute runner can be improved with a border pattern that is present elsewhere in the room. While genuine leather or faux leather provides color and durability, it may not be practical when the budget is tight.


Border Edge Stair Runner

border edge stair runner

A stair runner not only protects your stairs but also reduces noise. Options include sisal or wool, the latter being softer underfoot.

Tribal-inspired Carpeting Toward Stair Runner

monochrome animal print stair runner ideas

Animal print carpets can add whimsy or an elegant feel to your space. They are perfect when placed in hallways or on staircases.

Zebra, leopard, cheetah, and snake prints can be found in virtually any color imaginable. Some types of animal print carpets are highly contrasting, while others are subdued.

If you’re looking for the exotic accents of animal prints, but they are too loud, consider tribal-inspired carpeting instead.

Tribal patterns can be found in many different cultures, including Indian prints with heavy black outlines and Asian geometry. Tribal-print area rugs at the base of your stairs look best when followed by a natural sisal stair runner.

Diy Stair Runner With Metallic Stair Rods

diy stair runner ideas by installing metallic stair rods

It is possible to get the look of a runner for your staircase by simply purchasing a rug and using it with a staple gun.

Add a rug pad underneath for increased cushion. If you want to embellish your stair runner with steel rods, it’s best to install them on the corners of each riser (rather than in the center).

When moving into a new home, wait until your movers leave before laying down the staircase runner. Then you will only need to worry about ordinary wear-and-tear from walking up and down the steps instead of heavy traffic for months.

When you prepare to install a stair rug on the stairs, make sure that at least 3-4 weeks have elapsed before installing the carpet.

Dark For Contrast Stair Runner

dark for contrast stair runner

Dark stripes appear on the edge of a stairway and in other places to create drama. The staircase’s dark paint, grey runner, and striped banister complement each other well.

Patterned Stair Runner

minimalist stripped stair runner ideas

Keep your home looking inviting by adding a bold carpet to the entryway. The design firm Gunter & Co illustrated this concept with their cool clash, where an abstract wall is paired with a runner to keep the eye engaged.

Stair Runner Materials In Neutral Colors

beige color stair runner corner ideas

If your floor is carpeted, make sure it’s not too dark. Instead, use a neutral color like ecru or tan to ensure the stairs blend in with the rest of the space.

When choosing rods to hold stair runners in place, choose rods that match any metals or colors on the staircase.

Popular stair runner surfaces in neutral colors are sisal and jute. Unfortunately, seagrass can be a poor choice for a runner because it has a hard, inflexible quality.

In light of this, if you favor seagrass rugs but also like to have a stairway runner, it is wise to go with something other than neutral colors. Seagrass rugs are less forgiving when it comes to spills and stains.

Rainbow Shade Stair Runner

colorful stair runner ideas

This house’s dark wood detailing now has a new vibrance thanks to the rainbow-hued stair runner.

Incorporate The Landing Stair Runner

stripped green stair runner ideas

A running pattern like this strong stripe enables the runner to cover larger areas such as hallways or landings.

Simplicity Of Modern Stair Runner

modern stair runner corner ideas

The existing simplicity of modern design may cause homeowners to wonder whether adding a stairway or hallway runner is necessary.

And although minimalist decor may not seem like the best option for carpets, several modern stair runner options are available to lighten your trek between floors.

If your home is modern and monochrome, take some time to consider the color of your staircase runner. A solid black, for example, can be easy on the eye yet still adds that splash of color needed.

Striped Stair Runner Patterns

modern striped stair runner ideas

Stripes can be tricky to install with staircases because they usually slope. This is why a striped runner is harder to accomplish than with slopes; however, when done correctly, stripes add a classic design element to all styles of décor.

Strips visible on the uprights that run vertically rather than horizontally will make a staircase seem taller and thinner, as will more recessed stripes.

Stair runners come in a range of widths and color patterns. Different styles include striped, wider or narrower, fancy or subtle, and chevron-shaped stripes, pinstripes, or a nautical Breton stripe.

If you want your runner to have a striped pattern, paint it instead of searching for days to find the right material.

Leopard Print Stair Runner

animal printed cheetah stair runner ideas

The leopard print stair runner in this hall has different reactions- some people love it, while others hate the design.

A Zebra Print Stair Runner

a zebra print stair runner

Zebra print stair runner? That’s crazy. There doesn’t seem to be a “rule book” when it comes to patterns, and these homeowners decided to have some fun in this hallway.

Leather Stair Runner

brown leather stair runner ideas

This steel staircase is coated in a rich, deep wax finish. The leather carpet glued on the treads and landing provides both tractions for your feet as well as an elegant flair that makes this piece of architecture stand out from others like it.

Silky Texture Stair Runner

silky texture stair runner

This decorative stair runner is made from silk — a luxuriously textured choice for households with children and pets.

Painted Stair Runner

painted stair runner ideas

Painting a stair runner is less expensive than installing fabric, but it takes longer.

Painting stairs can provide a space with any vibe- from elegant to beachy or bohemian, depending on the design. When the paint is applied to only the risers and step surfaces, it creates an impression of a runner without having those pesky trip hazards as carpet does.

A painted runner would work well on basement stairs. Be sure to use paint designated for flooring as some types of paint will wear off with heavy traffic. Creative options include:

  • Ombre steps have two colors, one on top and another on the bottom. The colors merge in the middle.
  • Rainbow painted risers in either bright or pastel hues.
  • Up a staircase, some flowers or vines ascend.
  • Chevron patterns, tile designs, or polka dots.
  • To add a literary flavor to your staircase, install some quotes at the bottom of the ramps.

Blue Antelope Stair Runner

blue antelope stair runner ideas

Animal print carpets are always popular, but our most popular is the blue antelope patterned carpet followed by the grey leopard. In addition, patterns inspired by cheetahs, zebras, snow leopards, and giraffes make high-impact floor coverings.

When incorporating nature’s neutrals, limit them to the stairwell and avoid using a strong pattern on the walls to prevent the space from feeling overwhelming.

Oriental Themed Stair Runner

oriental stair runner ideas

Oriental rugs are one of the most popular and well-tested home décor materials, with patterns that can fit into a wide range of styles. For example, an oriental stair runner looks elegant whether or not you use carpet rods.

If you’re considering buying an antique oriental stair runner, be prepared to spend a lot of money.

You can find cheaply priced runners and coordinating rugs in your favorite patterns online.

Oriental rugs are usually named for the city or region they’re made in. Patterns found on this antique tapestry include flowers, lines, and abstract tribal designs.

Stair Runner FAQs

Are Stair Runners A Good Idea?

A stair runner is a good idea for people who want to protect their stairs or reduce the noise made by going up and down them. These runners can be made out of carpet, or they can be something different like other materials.

Do Stair Runners Need An Underlay?

A conventional carpet underlay will protect your carpet runner and pad from excessive wear, especially around the edges of staircases. Ask your installer if a felt rug pad is included in their estimate.

What Is The Best Material For Stair Runners?

Wool carpet is generally recommended as the best material for a stair runner. It is durable, soft on your feet, and attractive. However, these benefits come at a cost- wool runners are also the most expensive option available.

How Much Should Wood Show On Either Side Of The Stair Runner?

Allow three to five inches of identical wood on each side of the step. This width is visually appealing and a general guideline for any type of stairway.

Briefly To Conclude,

Installing a stair runner can be an effective way to spice up your staircase. However, to avoid expensive DIY expenses and disappointment, make sure you measure correctly and measure out periodically as the installation progresses.

To see how a small change can make a big dent, start this project!

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