DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

04 March

If you saw my last post and YouTube video then you saw my DIY stair runner that I made from throw rugs that I found at my local Lowe's store.

If you haven't seen that yet, you can catch up on all the fixer-upper posts here:

Fixer-Upper Progress (Update #2)

Progress at the Fixer-Upper (Update #1)

Our New Fixer-Upper Empty House Tour

Today I'm sharing how to create your own stair runner. This is such an easy DIY project and a budget-friendly way to get a beautiful stair runner!

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

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Supplies Needed
* If you are removing old carpets or runners, need to fill old staple or nail holes, and/or are sanding/painting/staining your stairs
** If you have a woven rug from which you'll need to remove the hem stitching (If your rug is not woven, you can cut off the hems with scissors)

I did some research before starting this project and found that the most recommended fabric type for stair runners is wool. It is durable so should last quite awhile, and is soft for the best comfort. You could definitely use another fabric choice but be aware that you may need to replace it sooner.

The Origin throw rugs I found at Lowe's are a cotton/wool blend so they were perfect. They were also on sale!

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

Once you have chosen a throw rug style that you like, measure your stairs to determine how many rugs you'll need. Check out the Anatomy of a Staircase below.
DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs
Measure the height of your stair risers and multiply that by the number of stair risers you'll be covering. In my example, I have six risers and they are each 6 1/4 inches tall.

6 x 6.25 = 37.5 inches (total lriser measurement)

Measure the length of your stair treads and multiply that by the number of stair treads you'll be covering. In my example, I have six treads and they are 11 inches deep.

6 x 11 = 66 inches (total tread measurement)

Add those two measurements together and then divide by the length of the throw rugs you've chosen. My throw rugs measure 36 inches long.

37.5 + 66 = 103.5 total inches (riser measurement + tread measurement)
103.5 / 36 = 2.875

When you factor in the lip of each stair tread then you can see that three 36 inch long throw rugs will cover my stairs perfectly!

The rugs I found are reversible if you remove the tags. I chose to use the back (black side) for my runners. I liked the look of that side better and I thought it would hide dirt better too.

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

Here is what our stairs looked like when we bought the house. They don't look too bad in this picture but the carpet was actually pretty dirty and the previous owners smoked indoors so we pulled all the carpet out of the house.

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

If you are pulling up old carpet like we did, you'll need to pull and fill all the staples and nails and fill the holes.

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

I didn't bother too much with filling and sanding the center area of the stairs since it would be covered by my runner but I did pull all the staples that were sticking up even just slightly.

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

After the wood filler has dried, sand the stairs to smooth out the wood filler and remove any previous finish that may prevent the paint from sticking.

Then paint the stairs in the color of your choice. We chose Dark Secret by Behr and used a good quality porch and patio floor paint.

Again, I didn't bother with the center section of the stairs that would be covered.

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

I found a scrap of carpet padding at our local Habitat for Humanity store but it wasn't enough for all the stairs (I have another flight I'll be doing) so we purchased a roll from Home Depot to use for the rest.

You don't have to use padding under your runner but it sure does help, these feel so nice and cushy now! 😊

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

You will only need to place padding on the stair treads where you walk. 

To determine the size to cut your padding for each stair, measure the width of your throw rugs and the depth of the stair tread and subtract about 1 inch from all sides. This ensures that you can staple the rug down all around the pad and you won't see any of the padding sticking out.

Cut the padding pieces using these measurements and staple them down.

To determine where to staple them, first find the center of each tread and mark it with a pencil or piece of masking or painter's tape, then find the center of each piece of padding you've cut and mark it. Line up the center markings. TIP: I suggest doing this on each stair and pad piece. I would not recommend trying to eyeball it because if you get off with your "eyeball measurements," the whole runner will be crooked.

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

Your throw rugs will most likely have rolled or folded end hems. Depending on the method that was used to make the rugs you've chosen you can either undo the stitching or just cut off the hems.

Mine were handwoven so if I had cut them, they would have unraveled if not immediately, then over time, so I used a seam ripper and removed the stitching from the ends of all except the piece that you will start your runner with and the piece that you will end your runner with. Leave those two hemmed.

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

Use the same method as above to mark the center of the rugs, then begin laying out your runner and stapling it down.

Start with a rug that has one hem left intact, this will be the beginning point of your runner and it should start right underneath the lip of the floor at the top of the stairs.

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

Once you have that top, beginning piece stapled down, press the rug into the crease where the stair tread and riser meet and staple along the edge as close as you can get to the crease.

Then staple along each side of the runner on the tread. Wrap the rug over the lip of the stair tread and staple it to the underneath side of that lip. This hides the staples nicely.

To add the second rug, overlap the ends of the second rug over the one you just stapled down, folding the end of the one on top to conceal the raw edge and staple it down. Continue this process until you reach the end of your new runner, ending with a throw rug that has one hem still intact if possible. TIP: If you can't end with a prehemmed rug end, just cut it where you need to end, fold the edge under, and staple it folded side down.

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

You can choose to end your runner right under the last tread lip as I've done, or you can end it at the floor.

DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

Once you have your runner done, go back and staple any areas that need it... look for areas that have gapping along the edges. Staple the riser portions with just a couple, no need to worry too much about that area since you don't walk on it, but it will help to have a few staples here.

The last step is optional but I think it helps give a more professional appearance. Color the tops of your staples with a Sharpie that matches the rug color. I did mine with black.

Now stand back and admire your work... dance up and down the stairs a few times and call in anyone nearby to really appreciate all that you've created 😍

I wanted to share a price breakdown to give you an idea of what this would cost to recreate yourself. Of course it will depend on the throw rugs you choose and how many stairs you have to cover.

Throw rugs $103.77

Carpet padding $27.98*

Staple gun $31.47

Staples $4.17*

Wood filler $5.38*

Floor paint $28.78* 

Total $201.55 to complete eleven stairs


*These are the prices for the whole roll of padding, box of staples, gallon of paint, and container of wood filler. I did not use all of any of them so the price will be less if you already have these items or can use the leftovers for other projects.

In full transparency, with the sale price that I paid for these throw rugs, they ended up costing $5.32 per foot (rugs only, not including the price for any of the other supplies). The lowest price premade stair runner carpet that you can purchase at Home Depot is $4.97 per foot (other supplies not included). 

So, while you can do this project cheaper with premade runner carpet, I wanted something that fit my decor style a little better than I could find in a premade option and the end results were worth it to me. Not to mention it would probably double or triple in price if you were to hire someone to do this instead of DIYing it!

I hope you enjoyed this project!


DIY Stair Runner from Throw Rugs

Posted by: at 04 March Tag:

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  1. I'm very inspired by how you used throw rugs for runners. We desperately need a runner on our slippery hardwood stairs and I'm loving this far more affordable option. Heading to Lowe's this weekend and finger's crossed they have a good selection here in our Canadian stores. I'll be referring back to this post when we go to install them.

    1. Thank you so much Marie, I'm glad you are inspired! I hope your trip to Lowe's is successful. I know they also have a huge selection of rugs at our At Home store but I don't know if you have those stores in Canada. Good luck finding something you like! :)

  2. Wow Tania! Your stairs turned out amazing. Using 3 of the same runner is such a great way to get a custom look without spending a lot of money.

    1. Thanks! At first I thought maybe the different patterns on the ends of each rug would be weird but I kind of like it now!


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