A Guide to Stair Runners

Stair runners are a great way to add style, safety, and comfort to your staircase. Mixing textures on the staircase, yet keeping the overall carpet theme, stair runners reduce noise and provide a slip-resistant surface for added peace of mind.

We sat down with one of our recommended retailers to talk through some of the most frequently asked questions when looking at introducing a stair runner in your home...

1. What type of binding do you suggest?

Binding is the finished edge of a stair runner. Any carpet that isn't installed wall-to-wall will have a binding on it to enhance the design and stop the edges from fraying over time.

Whipping or overlocking, as seen on the majority of samples in a carpet shop and in the image below, is a very versatile type of binding for your stair runner; either in a coordinating yarn or even a striking colour to match the surrounding decor. This method allows for more intricate shapes to be made and is also a good option for narrow stairs where taped binding may be too imposing.

Taped binding, which you can see pictured right, works well for a straight set of stairs over 66cm in width, so you aren't standing on the taped edge, as this can cause premature wear.

2. How do I measure how much carpet I need?

To get an idea of the quantity of carpet you need before visiting your local retailer, click here to view our guide on planning and measuring.

By taking these rough calculations to your local retailer, you’ll be able to have an informed conversation and identify the right carpet for you early in the process. Please note, it’s important that your local carpet retailer comes to visit your home and measure for themselves, ensuring they can plan the most economical way to lay the carpet and provide options on how different effects can be achieved.

3. Do I need stair rods?

The addition of stair rods is purely for aesthetic value and does not contribute to the carpet being held in place. There is also the option for stair rods to be added at a later date should you wish to do so.

4. What type of underlay and gripper should be used?

A thinner, firmer underlay tends to work best when fitting a stair runner, as there is less likelihood of visibility of the underlay if you have open rails on the side of the stairs. Normal grippers can be used for the fitting of your stair runner, though the pin length, which is the height of the pins that hold the carpet in place, would depend on the thickness of the carpet.

5. What width of stair runner should I opt for?

There is no right or wrong answer to this, though most people tend to leave around 10cm on each side.

From the experts

"There are a few key things to bear in mind when choosing the perfect carpet for your stair runner and I'd always recommend a loop style or a short cut pile carpet. These two types of carpet not only perform better in terms of safety on staircases, but they are much less likely to flatten over time and also offer a more clean and crisp finish to the chosen edging - which is especially important if you are wanting a contrasting colour finish.

In terms of deciding on the look of your stair runner, it is important to consider the overall feel of your home. Since the pandemic, natural tones and nature-inspired aesthetics have become more popular and are still a strong theme now. Cotton and linen edges are a great way to introduce this trend to your interiors, without it being too bold of a statement.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, neo-brutalism has emerged as a trend this year, where a dark leather or faux leather edge can add a stronger, masculine look, which can work great when paired unexpectedly with a carpet that has a softer aesthetic. If leather isn't for you, a simple grey cotton herringbone can give a similar feel, pulling on the toughness of steel which is set to be the metal of choice for interior lovers.

If minimalism is more your thing, you're going to love the ascension of mono-fabric rooms (where only one fabric is used throughout a room). Whilst this may not be an obvious trend to apply to stairs, a colour-matched whipped edge can allow you to have the stair runner of your dreams, without interfering with your clean-cut look."

Nicola Edwards - Nicola Edwards Bespoke Carpet Edging

Image (left): @thehome_life_

Carpet used: Malabar Two Fold in Dune


Overall, a stair runner can add both style and function to your staircase. With the right material, style, and installation, you can enjoy a safer, more comfortable, and more beautiful staircase in your home.

Still looking for the right carpet? Order your free samples here.

Please note that all imagery used is for inspiration purposes only. If you would like to explore creating a stair runner using one of our carpets, please speak to your local Cormar retailer who will be happy to help. Your nearest Cormar retailer can be found here.