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How to Carpet Stairs


There are several methods of carpeting stairs. The waterfall method and the runner are two methods that use a continuous piece of carpet for all the steps. It is also possible to carpet each stair separately, as in the cap and band method. The option of whether the risers of the stairs may or may not be carpeted arises when the stairs are carpeted individually.

Waterfall Installation

The waterfall method is easiest to remove because it is one continuous piece of carpet tacked down at the foot of each riser and the back of each tread. However, the single continuous piece of carpet must be carefully measured or it could mess up the whole project. The width of the strip of carpet is the same as the width of the stair, and latex glue is dabbed on the edges of the carpet against the balister and the skirtboard at the two sides of the staircase. The carpet is secured to the stairs with tackless strips at the bottom of the risers and the back of the treads. The padding, like the carpet, is a continuous strip the width of the stairs and the same length as the carpeting. A small, hand-held version of the power stretcher is used to kick and stretch the carpet on the individual stairs. Stair rods can hold down the fold in the carpet at the base of each riser to make the carpet more secure and also add a decorative touch. Start unrolling the carpet strip from the bottom of the flight of stairs and secure to fastening strips at the foot of each stair before going up to the next stair.

Cap and Band

The cap and band method is preferred by installers, because the pieces of carpet are easier to handle than one continuous piece as in the waterfall method. Each piece of carpet covers one tread and one adjacent riser. The piece extends the width of the stair to the walls or railing on either side. If done properly, the carpeting should look continuous like the waterfall installation. However, although this installation is easier, removal of the stair carpet is more difficult, because it requires removal of carpet from each individual stair. However, it is more secure and safe to walk on, because the carpet is firmly attached to each stair. Replacement of one damaged piece of stair carpet is also easier to replace than replacing a continuous piece of carpet from the entire staircase. The padding is measured to cover the tread of each individual stair and extends to cover three inches of the riser below it before the carpet is applied.

Other Options to Carpeting Stairs

A variation on the cap and band method is the upholstered method, where the carpet piece is secured underneath the bottom of a tread, covers downward over the riser and the tread, and is secured on the underside of the next tread below it. Another variation is to cover only the tread itself, leaving the risers bare or covered with a board for trim. Other options include the stair runner which is a long continuous piece of carpet that is centered on the flight of stairs. Like the waterfall installation, the stair runner covers every riser as well as every tread. However, the stair runner does not cover the whole width of the stair. It is centered on the stairs leaving a band of uncarpeted stair on each side of the runner. Another option is the use of stair rugs, which can be secured with tacking strips to the top of the tread and underneath the front of the tread where it meets the riser below it, and the part that is on the top of the tread is rounded like a floor rug.



“ – Preparing for Installation of Carpet.” – Expert Guide to buying and maintaining carpet.. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2010.

Guide, the Editors of Consumer. “TLC Home “Preparing to Carpet a Stairway”.” Howstuffworks “Home and Garden”. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2010.

“How to Install a Stair Runner¬† | Step-by-Step | Carpeting¬† | This Old House – Introduction.” Home Improvement and Remodeling: This Old House. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2010.,,392360,00.html.

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