• If you have plain old stairs, a runner can make a statement and soften your footsteps. Runners made of woven cotton are affordable and easy to work with, and they range in style from beachy to baroque; here, we chose heathered stripes to complement a cottage-style interior.

    To simplify the job, This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers employed the waterfall method: The runner cascades from step to step, a look that suits the pattern and is more casual than tightly wrapping the nosing.

    Steps to Install a Stair Runner

    1. Determine the Layout

    2. Size the Runner

    3. Cut the Padding to Width

    4. Taper the Sections

    5. Staple the Padding to the Steps

    6. Tape the Runner to the Top Riser

    7. Tuck and Staple

    8. Trim the First Runner

    9. Secure the First Runner's End

    10. Mate the Second Runner

    11. Trim the Bottom End

    12. Tuck and Staple the End
    • Difficulty: Easy
      Installation goes pretty quickly, but it does require a lot of kneeling.

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      Tools List

      • 100-foot tape measure
        Tape measure
      • combination square
        Combination square
      • chalk line
        Chalk line
      • carpet scissors
        Scissors
      • straightedge guide
        3-foot straightedge
      • black marker
        Felt-tip marker
      • staple gun
        Staple gun
      • flat prybar
        Thin pry bar
      • pneumatic staple gun
        Narrow-crown pneumatic stapler and air compressor
      • bolster chisel
        Bolster chisel

      Shopping List

      Felt carpet padding to cushion the runner

      Flat-weave cotton runner(s)

      Double-sided carpet tape to adhere the top end of the runner-inch staples for the staple gun to secure the padding

      1-inch 18-gauge narrow-crown staples for the pneumatic stapler, to secure the runner