DIY Stair Runner Refresh

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I just returned from a 2 week trip back to South Africa and for the first time in years, found myself home all by myself for 10 days.  While the whole family travelled to South Africa together, the two kids stayed behind to spend some additional time with Pieter’s sister.  Pieter is travelling for work so that left me home all by myself.

As with all our trips back “home”, this one left me feeling a bit depressed and sad after spending time with our family and friends that still live there.  If you missed my post about that, follow the link and read all about the Tough Goodbyes we as Expats have to deal with.

Keeping Busy

As always after saying goodbye to friends and family, the best way to deal with sadness is to keep busy.  I love my DIY projects and since the old carpet runner on the stairs has been on my radar for some time, I decided that now was a perfect time to jump in and get it done.

Stair Runner - Before and After

Removing the Carpet from the Stairs

So on Saturday, I found myself pulling up the old carpet without thinking too much about completing the project.  To my surprise, it came up quick and easy.  There were multiple sections of carpet and while the installation was probably not done by a professional, it was done correctly where the seams/joints were hidden under the step nose.  Removing all the remaining staples took a while longer and after spending an hour pulling them out with some needle nose pliers, I was left with the original wood finish.  I have peeked under this carpet before leaving on my trip, so I knew I had hardwood underneath and would just need to deal with cleaning the wood and replacing the carpet.  No refinishing or installing new stair treads during this project.

All that was left was a good clean.  I vacuumed the stairs and then used my Swiffer Wet Jet to give it a good mop.  Do you own one of these?  I have two actually – one for upstairs and one for downstairs.  Head over to Amazon and get a starter pack today.  You never know when the mood to clean will strike.

Stair Runner Prepwork

Preparing for New Carpet

Since I’m the only one home, I was happy to leave the stairs “naked” and take my time to find the right carpet to install.  But later that Saturday, after the 140 pound Great Dane followed me upstairs, I realized that he would not be able to go back down the stairs by himself.  It was just too slippery.  We gave it a try and sure enough, he started sliding on the landing and then just sat down, too afraid to move.  I helped him down the stairs, put up a baby gate and left for the shops to find the supplies to finish the project.

New Supplies

My first stop was Big Lots (love this store!) where I started my search for non-slip rug pads.  I was planning on buying a large piece and cutting it up for individual stair tread pieces.  I wanted to place this on each step to act as extra padding under my new carpet.

I found the non-slip rug pad but was surprised by the high(ish) price.  While examining the product, I realized it is exactly the same type of product as used for shelf liners.  So I headed over to that section of the store and picked up a roll.  Now I had the perfect width and can easily cut my individual pieces.  I also picked up a roll of double-sided rug pad tape.

I found my new carpet runner at the AtHome store down the road.  Not a store I go to frequently, but one that I will definitely stop by more often going forward.  I chose a grey and white trellis design and, lucky for me, the runner was available in 24″ x 91″ rolls, where 24″ was the exact width of the old runner.  It had nicely finished edges which meant I would only have to cut it down to the lengths I needed.  I bought 3x rolls and headed home.

Stair Runner Rug Pad Solution

Completing the Prep Work

Since my main concern was the dog’s ability to go safely up and down the stairs, I immediately started by cutting the shelf liners down to size – one for every stair tread.  I placed these in the centre of the stairs and used my rug pad tape to secure them to the stairs.  Once these were in place, Ben (the Great Dane) was able to go up and come back down the stairs by himself again.  I unrolled the carpet runners and left them lying flat before going to bed.

Stair Runner Rug Pad

The Final Step

I headed out to Home Depot early Sunday morning to rent an electric carpet stapler.  I also picked up staples, a new cutting knife and a carpet tucker – a tool for pressing the carpet into corners and creases.  I was able to immediately start installing my new runner when I got home since all the prep work has been done the previous day.  I would recommend starting at the top and staple the carpet in place as you work your way down.  Make sure to use a measuring tape to keep your carpet straight.  Once you find the centre of your stairs, you can measure on one side and keep that measurement the same as you install.  I stapled on the stair riser and again in the crease under the stair nose.

Stair Runner Replacement

I also cut my pieces in place, to make sure my seams would line up under the stair noses.  Since I have a landing with a 90-degree turn halfway up I decided to install the new carpet on the stairs only and leave the landing bare.  This all worked out quite well, since I ended up with only enough carpet to cover the two sections of stairs.  This surprised me since I measured the pieces I removed the previous day and calculated the length of carpet to buy with those measurements in mind.  I guess another reminder of why we need to measure twice…

Stair Runner Installation

I finished stapling all my carpet sections in just under three hours and headed back to Home Depot to return the rented stapler.  Once back home, I did final cleanup which involved picking up unused staples, pieces of carpet and putting away all the tools.

I am very pleased with my new stair runner and it is so soft and comfortable to walk up and down the stairs now!  Ben likes it and even the cats have picked it as a new nap space.

Stair Runner Before and After

Project Costs

Here is a cost breakdown for those of you thinking of replacing your own stair runner:

  • 1x Roll of Shelf Liner $5
  • 1x Roll of Rug Pad Tape $9
  • 3x Carpet Runners $25 each
  • Staples $4
  • 1x Carpet Tucker $17
  • 4x Hour Rental Electric Carpet Stapler $17

There you have it – a DIY stair runner update for less than $130!

Please feel free to follow my blog so you don’t miss out on any future posts, like the one about our Fireplace that also got a makeover.

Fireplace Makeover

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