Custom Staircase Carpeting and Runners – 5 Tips Before You Buy

I’ve seen my share of custom carpeted  staircases  and I’m always blown away by the final custom look that comes out of these unique installations. If you’ve ever considered the possibility of working with a rug fabricator who is familiar with adding a custom design to your  staircase  I have a few tips before you jump.

Whether you’re having a runner installed or it’s a complete wall to wall installation, I suggest creating a strategy to help you see the project through to a timely and successful conclusion.

Tip #1: Find a design that really attracts you. Explore the internet and dig deep if you have to. I’ve seen great  staircase  possibilities and in truth, any design is a possibility – it’s just that some designs can be integrated easier than others. Be open to everything at first then bookmark pages as you go. Check out websites including,, and rug related sites. Get creative with your keyword research i.e. –  staircase  designs, rug designs, design illustrations, area rugs, or tap into specific themes by drilling down your search; example, animal print designs, tropical designs or illustrations etc…

Tip#2: Qualify your rug fabricator and installer. Ask a few questions: Have they ever worked on a project like yours? Can you see some pictures? Share your design ideas with the rug fabricator and request a few layout ideas. A design can flow down just one side, or it can be a random pattern, or it can be precisely placed on each tread. The one area you want to avoid any side seams (aka horizontal seams – vertical seams are no problem) is right at the pivot point of the tread and riser. Each step has a tread and a riser, the riser is the actual face of each step, and the tread is the actual step. A horizontal seam at the pivot point, which is under tension as it folds over the step, will probably open up and grin – this is not good. This can be avoided through careful design… just plan ahead a little.

Tip#3: Discover the type of installation you want: Will the  staircase  carpet be installed like a runner, or will it be a full, wall to wall installation? If you have a nice hardwood  staircase , then you might consider a runner-type install. The carpet would likely be all in one piece and a simple waterfall installation would work fine. You may even consider adding decorative stair-rods that hold it in place.

On the other hand, wall to wall installations have many facets. You may just have one wall, and then a side wrap. Or you may have a ‘more common box  staircase  with walls on each side. There are a few options that you will need to discuss with your rug fabricator and installer. The goal is to get clear on exactly HOW you’re going to approach the install. You may have more options than you think!

Tip#4: Consider a continuation of the design into the hallway or rooms on the second level. I’ve seen clever designs that continue into the next room and gracefully taper off, instead of an abrupt ending at the top of the  staircase . I’ve also seen dramatic extensions of the  staircase  design that spills out onto the floor on the first level; serving the same purpose as a separate area rug. If this is done properly it can be quite a statement.

If you’re doing a runner installation, usually it’s best to start at the top riser and finish at the bottom riser, or conversely, you can go from top tread to bottom tread; this leaves the top and bottom risers exposed.

Tip #5: If you’re having trouble locating a rug fabricator to do your job, don’t lose hope. Check your yellow pages online and look for ‘carpet workrooms’ or ‘carpet binding’. You can also contact your local carpet dealers and ask some questions. A good installer can probably add a couple of decorative borders if you want to keep it simple. If you decide to add borders, keep the border widths in balance with the overall  staircase , try to avoid going too wide with your borders, example; a narrow  staircase  requires narrower borders.

As you have learned, there are plenty of creative solutions to getting that custom carpeted  staircase  exactly right. Imagine the look on your guests face when you have your next party. A custom  staircase  is guaranteed to make a lasting impression.

We’ve covered a few of the basic questions in our discovery process. Let’s recap the key points: Investigate design ideas; there are so many creative ideas to bounce around that you can really have fun with this stage. Next, find a qualified rug fabricator and installer – hint: find the fabricator first because they may already be installers too. Consider your installation options; do you want to cover your stairs completely? Or do a runner type install? Think about the possibility of continuing your design into other spaces of your home. Finally, try a deeper search if you are struggling to find a rug fabricator, explore online sources and local carpet dealers.