Stair Runner Reveal and Tutorial

A month or so back I mentioned in one of my posts about wanting to tear up the carpet on my stairs. Well I did and project Replace Carpet with Stair Runner is done!

Are you ready for some before and afters??

The Before– A boring beige carpet that was a magnet for dirt and cat hair.

staircase before runner


The After-A fresh, clean runner protected with Scotch Guard
DIY Ikea Stair Runner


I’m super happy with how it turned out and the lightness and brightness it brings to the entryway.


entry before



Ikea Stair Runner

Big Difference, isn’t it??  (shake your head and nod, yes):-)

As you may have noticed in the photo above our kitchen gets a lot of light and our front entry is 2-story with a window so it gets light but the hallway going to our kitchen is always dim.

I always feel like when I invite guests over I have to take them through a dark tunnel (my hallway) and I feel the need to encourage them to “go towards the light, go towards the light”.

Updated DIY Kitchen

Yay, we made it through the tunnel!:-)


A project I plan to do in the future to hopefully lighten up the hallway is to paint it all white and add decorative molding!  I’m excited!  So excited that I created a terrible photoshopped picture of it all white and boxed up in molding.

Entry Hallway with waitnscoting

I know it’s an absolutely hideously lazy photoshop job but it still makes me excited.:-)

Okay, sorry,  back to the stairs!  Do you wonder how much this DIY stair runner cost?  Most stairs runners cost over $200 even DIY-ed.  This cost me about $65.

A few months ago when I went to IKEA (a 4 hour round trip) to buy some items for the boys’ room makeover I also went to check out a rug runner I thought could work as a stair runner.

Above is  the one, the Alslev Rug.  It comes in 2 sizes a  2 ‘ 7 “x 4 ‘ 11” for $16.99 and a 2 ‘ 7 “x 6 ‘ 7 ” for $19.99.

The weekend I went I lucked because there was a deal going on where you could purchase the Alslev Rug smaller size for $9.99 and longer size for $12.99 if you were an IKEA Family card member.  I signed up to be a IKEA Family card member to get the deal!

I came home with 3 smaller sizes and 2 longer size.  In retrospect I wish I would have just bought all of the longer sizes even if it did cost a little bit more.

One reason is because it looks better and installs quicker using the longer rugs and second reason because although the description says the two sizes are the same width (2’ 7”) the longer rug was actually about an inch to an 1 /1/2 less wide.


So here is the Project Replace Carpet with Stair Runner tutorial:

1.  I started with the bottom step by using pliers to pull carpet away from stairs.

how to pull up carpet

2. Once you get the carpet up this is what you will see. The blue stuff is the carpet padding and the arrows show where the nail strips to pull up carpet on stairs2

With a flat head screw driver up against the nail strip strike the end of the screw driver with a hammer until you can get under the nail strip and pull it up (you may want to use gloves during this step).

how to get up nail strip on stairs

TIP:  Getting the nail strips up is the longest part of the process.  I only had a little bit of time each night to work on this project so I did a few steps at a time and then put the carpet back down over the steps.  I wouldn’t pull the whole carpet off the stairs all at the beginning unless you knew you were going to have the time to get all the nail strips up in one big block of time.

3. Once the strips were up I cut away the edges of my carpet padding.  I knew I wanted to keep the carpet padding for the stair runner because then I would have to buy new ones plus it was conveniently there.

So with scissors I just trimmed away the padding on the sides (as shown in the first couple of steps) and then removed the staples that had been used to keep the padding down on the sides.  To get up the staples just use your flathead screw driver to get up under the staple and pop it up.

how to tear out carpet on stairs

4.  There will be some holes and imperfections left from the staples and nail strips so the next step is to patch up the imperfections.  I used spackle and a putty knife to fill in holes and to scrape excess spackle away.

5.  Once the spackle is dry lightly sand and wipe away dust and debris.

6.  Now you are ready to paint!  I gave the sides of the stairs(where the runner wouldn’t cover) a fresh coat  white paint.

7.  Next I followed the tutorial over at Young House Love for installing the runners.  You can find it HERE.

I will let you know how the new stair runner holds up!  I’m really hoping that the scotch guard can keep it fresh and clean!  I figure if it gets dingy after a few years it didn’t cost too much so I could rationalize taking it off and staining the steps to match the new hardwoods and to do the beautiful brown and white look!

In the meantime I’m enjoying the new stairs:-)

DIY Ikea Stair Runner

Has anyone else tackled their stairs and have additional advice to share?

28 thoughts on “Stair Runner Reveal and Tutorial

  1. domesticdeadline

    Love this! I have frequently thought about doing this to my stairs. I was even thinking about it when we recarpeted the upstairs, including the stairs. It wasn’t too much after later that I regretted it and wished I’d done this…. Of course, it’s currently pretty far down on my to-do list, but maybe someday!

    1. Tamara Post author

      Thanks, Kim! I’ve loved the differences it has made in brightening up the stairway and customizing our home to our style. It was a good bit of work but SO worth it! Thanks for your great link up party!!:-)

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  5. Darcy

    I am thinking about doing this project as white stair carpet is so hard to keep clean on the stairs. I would like to see the runner transitions upstairs. I have carpet up stairs as well.

    1. Tamara Post author

      Hi, Shawna, as you can imagine with four young kids it is getting a beating but holding up pretty well. I think it has really helped to spray it first with scotch guard. It will probably only be a temporary solution (a few years) but that’s okay. I think it’s a great few year solution for the price! I will send you an email of the transition by the end of the weekend!:-)

  6. Michelle

    Tamara, thank you so much for sharing your great DIY ideas. I found your site while deciding whether to paint my kitchen cabinets with the rustoleum cabinet transformations kit. I’m half way through painting them white.

    I love your carpet runner project and was wondering why you chose to paint the stairs white rather than stain them. I don’t know what I’ll find under the builder grade carpet on my stairs, but hope I can stain them. If not, the white stairs look great, too. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thank you.

    1. Tamara Post author

      Hi Michelle! How exciting that you are painting your cabinets white!!:-) I chose to paint the stairs white for a couple of reasons. First I love light and airy spaces so all white would help achieve this look. Also I haven’t had great experiences with getting stain to be the color it says it will be so I felt painting it white would be a lot easier. Lastly, I’ve heard (and it seems to be true) that stairs are made with pretty cheap pine wood that doesn’t stain very well (evenly). If you like the stained look better it’s worth a try, you could always paint over it if it didn’t work out!

  7. Kelley Y

    HI! I am also interested in seeing how this looks with the carpet on the top of the stairs :). What a great idea. We have been trying to think of an economical way to cover the stairs that looks nice and your project is very inspiring. Thanks for the idea!

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