Laying Stair Carpet

Carpeting the staircase

Close-fitting carpet on a staircase gives a look of luxury, and planning and laying may be left to the expert. Strip carpets, which do not fit in the stairs, can be more easily laid as they are easier to handle and cost less then close-fitted carpets.


To prevent undue wear and tear, a stair carpet should be shifted periodically. Allow for this in the original measurements by adding an extra 460mm to the length. Shift the carpet up each stair tread 75mm to 100mm every nine months until the 460mm has been used. After that, return the carpet to its original position and continue to move up as before.

Runners for stairways come in standard widths of 460mm, 700mm, 985mm and 910mm.

Swatches of Berber carpet

Image via Wikipedia


To find the length, measure in millimetres the depth of one tread and the height of one riser; add the two measurements together and multiply by the number of stairs, dividing the resulting figures by 910 to determine the length required.

If the staircase has bends, first calculate the total carpet length as above, then measure each winding tread separately at the widest point which will be covered by the carpet, and again the height of each riser. Add these figures to the length required and divide by 910 to find the total required length.


As with carpeting for a room, a good-quality underlay is important. This can be used as a complete runner or in the form of pads, which must be tacked individually. A stair carpet and runner underlay can be fixed with rod and eyelet fittings, being tacked only at top and bottom. Pads are best used with stair carpet grippers, as these hold the back of the carpet in position for the pads. The stair pads should be large enough to butt against the riser and extend over the tread-nosing to meet the top of the gripper on the stair below. Special grippers are available for fixing foam-backed carpets to stairs.

Laying stair carpet

For maximum wear resistance, lay the carpet with the pile facing down the stairs. Check the sweep of the pile by stroking it back and forth lengthwise-the smoother stroke is the lay of the pile.

If you are using stair rods, fit the rod in position before putting down the underlay. Reverse the carpet so that its pile lays on the bottom stair tread, butt the end of the carpet against the riser of the second stair and tack in place. Let the carpet drop over the first tread-nosing to the floor and slide a stair rod through the eyelets at the foot of the stairs and over the backing threads of the carpet.

Lift the carpet over the nosings of the first two stair treads and tuck into the stair where tread and riser meet, pulling the carpet tightly. Continue laying, using the same method for each stair.

If tackless fittings are used, the method is slightly different. Nail the angled strip into the angle formed by tread and riser of each stair, except the bottom one, then fit underlay pads. Fix the end of the carpet, pile facing down, to back of the bottom tread with an angled strip and to the top of the first stair riser, which should have a flat metal strip.

Keeping the carpet taut, stretch it over the tread-nosing of the two bottom stairs. Keeping it taut, press the centre into the first angled strip and smooth the carpet into the teeth.

For staircases with a bend, known as ‘winders’ a series of folds are required in the carpet to take up the ‘slack’ which occurs at the narrowest point of the stair.

For carpets held with stair rods, you make folds in the carpet, starting at the bottom winder, pulling the carpet taut from the tread and swinging it round, following the bend in the stairs. Fold the slack down towards the lower stair and tack through the doubled carpet, across the width of the fold, pull the carpet taut and repeat on each stair.

The procedure is different with tackless systems. Nail a gripper to the tread of the first winder, stretching the carpet over the tread and swing it round to follow the turn of the stairway as above. The slack is folded downwards to meet the flat strip. Mark the back of the carpet at the base of the fold on both sides.

Turn back the carpet, holding the two marks well into the angle where tread and riser meet. Secure the fold with a second flat strip, nailed into the riser through a double thickness of the carpet. Pull tight, cover the next winder and repeat.

Carpet care

Finally, when the carpet is laid, look after it. New carpets tend to shed their pile during the first few weeks of wear – so during this period do not use a vacuum cleaner. Remove loose pile with a hand brush or carpet cleaner only. When moving furniture lift it – pushing the furniture across a carpet only damages the fibres.

Most carpets are automatically mothproofed; the label on the carpet will give you details.

A fitted carpet can be cleaned with a carpet shampoo. Take care not to soak the carpet or it may shrink.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Laying Stair Carpet


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: