How to Install Carpet On Stairs

If you don’t know it by now, a carpeted stairway is going to bring some silence into your home as it’s softening the footsteps and taking in the sound waves.

You may want to go with carpeted stairs as they’re safer than the hard-surface type, reducing the risk for slipping and offering a soft surface when you’re falling.

As staircases present high traffic, they’re going to catch more dirt and dust when carpeted. They can also become a decorative point of attraction for your home, as long as you’re selecting the right carpet.

Once you’re determined to carpet your stairs, you should take a deep breath and brace yourself. Even though the results are worth it, it’s going to take some time and patience for you to install carpet on stairs. But once you’re done, it’s going to bring a fresh new vibe in your entire home.

How to prepare?

You cannot just go ahead and install the carpet on your stairs; some preparations need to be made. Apart from the measurements, you’re going to have to take care of other things.

Here are the steps to follow:

install the carpet on your stairs

  • Measure the stairs

It’s the very first thing to do as you need a precise size of the staircase. The width, the length, and the height of every stair count, but you shouldn’t leave the number of stairs out of sight. As a matter of fact, the number of steps is fundamental as it helps know how many sets of tackles strips you’re going to need for carpeting the stairs.

Most standard stairs are 30in wide, so it’s easier to run the numbers when your stairs have standard dimensions. You need to allow 3in on every side for displaying the wood, but also 24 in for every stair step and riser (assuming your stairs are standard). As height (rise) and width (runs) are various, make sure that you take the measurements precisely.

  • What’s the final picture you have in mind?

Carpeting the stairs increases comfort, but it also changes the feel in your home. Don’t forget about the creative part of the process.

You may carpet only the step, but not the riser, or you can have some part of the wood show. Don’t hesitate to have some fun before making the final decision. As for the colors and textures, the options are so many that you may even feel overwhelmed at some point!

Take a look at the carpet as some may present a design woven into it. You should get the best out of the design pattern throughout the carpeting. Giving a symmetrical appearance to your carpeted stairs is a goal.

  • Have a chat with a carpet sales professional

Even if you’re determined to carpet the stairs on your own, you should still meet with an expert. Give him the general info on your stairs and the depict the results you’re expecting to achieve. He/she is going to give you a valuable piece of advice, but also guide you throughout the process. Visual information always helps so don’t forget to take some pictures of your stairs along with you.

  • Buy the supplies

The carpet is an essential item to get for this project. If you’ve made the measurements, you should be able to get the right amount of carpet. If not, the rug professional may assist you (but you still need the numbers).

Nevertheless, you should always leave some extra feet aside for the inherent errors and cuts.

You also need to buy tackles strips for holding the carpet and padding down (at least three for every step). Hammer, nails, industrial staples, and stapler are also on the supply list. Buy two strips of padding for every step and a carpet knee-kicker. The latter is going to help you stretch and hold in place the carpet.

How to use the tackles strip?

Being careful and meticulous throughout the process is, and you need to do every step right for getting best results.

How to use the tackles strip

  • Mark the outline of the carpet

You need to measure two inches on each side from the stair tread, using straight lines from the front to the back of the stair. It’s going to create a visual outline of where to apply the tackless strips and the carpet, later on.

Use some blue masking tape for the line as you can easily peel it off when you’re done.

  • Cut the tackless strips

Tackles strips are going to keep the carpet in place. You need them to be 1.5in narrower than the width of the steps. Don’t hurry up as you don’t want any strips to show off when you’ve finished the project.

Most carpet tackles strips are typically 4ft long by 1in wide. They feature sharp nails coming out of them at 60degree angles, sinking in the pieces partially.

  • Identify the center of every strip

The center of the tackles strips is going to ease out the process and increase your accuracy. You should do the same with the steps. A meter stick or a ruler can help you with the measurement.

  • Hammer the strips

Once the strips are aligned, you should nail them in place. Hammer a couple of tack nails to every strip; they should be placed evenly throughout the entire length of the pieces. It improves the stability of the carpet if so.

One or two strips are enough for every step, but remember to leave a piece for the height too.

  • Place the horizontal strip for the height

You should also add a set of tackles strips to the height of the steps so that the carpet fits better into the frame. Place them to the center and put 3-5 nails along every step.

As the tread strips are in place, aiming and gauging the center is going to be more comfortable.

  • Add one more set of strips for the other side of the steps

You shouldn’t do this step at the same time as the first set. Go from the top to the bottom so that you increase the stepping space.

Every step has to have the strips well centered, so take a good look at the step before you move on to the next phase of the carpeting. If there’s an error, now it’s the perfect time to fix it.

What tips to use when setting the carpet padding?

Let’s check the steps to follow when setting the carpet padding:

tips to use when setting the carpet padding

  • Measure and cut a piece of carpet pad for every tread

The carpet pad is going to give your stairs the pleasant feeling of cushioning and softness. The carpet pads should be as long as the tackless strips and not as the runner.

  • Apply the padding sheets flush against the strips. You also need to staple them in place, once they’re aligned with the tackless strips.

Use several industrial staples, leaving 3in distance between them. It’s better that you begin from the bottom, working up slowly.

  • Pull the padding really tight over the stair nosing, and staple every three inches. Remember to tuck the padding under the step’s nose. It shouldn’t be challenging to handle the horizontal padding.
  • Check the padding; when done right, you shouldn’t be able to see the tackles strips anymore.

What’s the best way to install the carpet runner?

You’re closer to the final phase of your process. You should start at the top of the staircase, working your way down. You’re going to cut more comfortable and have gravity work for you too.

  • Place runner between layout pencil marking

If you’ve started with marking the carpet outline, kudos for you! Make sure you also press the carpet under the nose, tugging the rest out so that you only use what you need precisely. Don’t stop until you get to the last step. Once you’re done, the carpet should cover the whole ground, whereas the outline of the steps shouldn’t show anymore.

Don’t move to the next step until you’re happy with the step you’re working on. Any mistake is going to show off later one when it’s going to be way more complicated to fix it.

  • Use a carpet knee-kicker for pressing the carpet into the outline of the steps. It’s going to keep it firmly in place in areas where it’s not easy to access otherwise.

You should place the front edge of the carpet knee-kicker right in the middle of the runner (two inches from the riser). You need to press it until the carpet is locked in. This process is going to make the stairs look nice and tight in the end.

Some like using a carpet chisel for the job as the dull edge helps you tighten up the corners. It’s quite easy to use it in tight quarters or stairs.

  • Check the kicking when you’re done

You always need to take another look at the results after moving on to the next phase. When you’re not kicking right, you may end up having to uproot or even destroy everything that you’ve already made.

The tackless strips should snag the carpet at the far end of the tread. When the pieces aren’t clinging to the carpet right, the rug is going to feel bumpy after some time. You should press the angle between the height and tread so that everything is hooked in.

  • Eliminate the excess carpet from the bottom of your steps

Nine times out of ten, you’re going to have some excess carpet at the bottom of the steps. Use the carpet knife for getting rid of it. You may throw it away or find it some use around the house.

  • Staple every step through the wood

Fundamentally, you have to use a powerful stapler, specially made for home improvement. It’s the best tool to use for giving the snug and perfect appearance to the carpet. While you’re stapling, you should push the staple through the carpet. Do it against its backing before pulling the trigger.

Don’t forget  to staple on the underside of the step noses, close to the angle between the height and the tread. You get maximum stability when you staple every three inches. Some people like using carpet glue instead of staples.

The carpet has to be precisely where it should when you’re stapling.  It’s one step when every mistake is beyond repair.

One last recommendation

Carpeting the stairs isn’t easy nor fast, but it should still be fun, mainly when you’re focusing on the outcome: a fresh vibe for your entire home!

Other resources

How to Carpet Stairs (with Pictures) – wikiHow

How to Install Carpet on Stairs

Carpeting Stairs | Fitting Stair Carpets | Laying Carpets on Stairs | DIY Doctor