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A Guide to Choosing the Best Carpet Runners for Stairs

If you're looking for some stylish suggestions to spruce up your stairs with a stair runner, read on! We've compiled a few ideas, design tips, and other things to consider when deciding on what's best for you, and how to create an inviting space for your staircase.

How do I choose a stair runner?

Deciding on a look and feel that you like and which works for your household can be tricky. Consider your overall home design and whether you want patterns, a striped runner with stair rods, treads, or stair carpet.

When choosing patterns be sure to account for a landing (if there is one) and give careful consideration to matching it correctly. A small pattern with a busy design will be trickier to match and a larger block pattern will typically be easier. The devil is in the details when selecting a patterned floor cover for stairs.

Your decision-making ought to factor in the current flooring as well. Whether you're using a selection of rugs, have existing carpet to the walls, or a tile, or hardwood flooring, you'll want your chosen style of the runner to tie in. Even if it is to be a bold statement piece.

Can any carpet be used as a stair runner?

Yes, for the most part, stair carpets can be any type of carpet or rug fabric. However, since stairs are a high traffic area of the home, and take some solid wear and tear, your best bet is to opt for a low pile, very durable material.

With pets, it's best to avoid looped carpets as animals can get claws caught, which will quickly show signs of wear. Something like a sheepskin or shag style is also not the most practical choice for a runner in a highly trafficked area.

Ultimately the best carpet to select is one that you like, one that is highly durable, won't shed, and can handle some solid use. A lot of feet go up and down a set of stairs in a busy house during a single day!


Synthetic options work well for staircases and they're usually not so heavy on the wallet. Nylon carpets are easy to clean and can handle heavy traffic and the odd spill here and there. If using this type of carpeting for a stairway, you'll want to go for a low pile, tightly woven one.

One thing to consider with synthetic and nylon carpets is that over time they can show signs of pilling, especially along the edge of stairs if they wrap under the lip. They'll generally break down more quickly under prolonged sunlight, however, today's options are plentiful. We recommend you shop around and do some good research with flooring experts to assist in decision-making.


Wool carpet is a nice natural choice and you'll want to select a low pile version for stairs. Wool has many advantages over synthetic but is usually priced a little higher. If you're on a slimmer budget, it's worth doing some deep diving into what will really work best for your space.

Woolen carpet is naturally stain-resistant and flame-retardant - not such a big deal to consider when installing as a stair runner and yet, a great plus. Wool fibres also bounce back quickly after furniture has been sitting on it.

Sisal is another natural fiber that is an excellent stair carpet due to its incredible durability and slip-resistant feel. However, it can be scratchy underfoot and although it looks great and lasts well on a staircase, it won't provide the softness of other materials.

What about stair treads?

If you're on the fence about what style carpet runner is right for you, consider a tread option. This is essentially a smaller grip pad of some kind, across the edge of the stair where your feet hit. It's easy to make a bold statement with stair treads and choose geometric patterns and decorative designs.

This system works well for wood or tile stairs. It's also a great idea for an open staircase as it won't detract from the overall look and feel of the home decor. There are several techniques and style options to consider:

  • Wrap the tread over the lip of the stairs where you scuff and walk most often.

  • Run a narrow runner width-ways on each of the stairs - this is a good option for a pattern or decorative style.

  • Extend the tread to the back of the stairs for an eye-catching impact when ascending.

Are stair runners a good idea?

Other than aesthetics and softening a space with hardwood floors throughout, another key advantage of a carpet runner for stairs is safety. Runners provide a sturdy grip for foot traffic and help avoid falls and slips on stairs.

Stair carpet will absorb noise, offer an element of warmth, and create a nice contrast to the wall and surrounding decor.

Does a runner make wooden stairs safer?

Wood and tiled stairs, or any smooth surface are of course going to be sleeker and more prone to potential falls. For example, if a liquid is spilled on these surfaces, it creates a hazard. To state the obvious, this is one of many reasons why textures and carpets are typically installed on a staircase.

Are stair runners practical?

Yes, absolutely. We've already mentioned safety but stair carpet or runners can soften an open hardwood stairway, add dimension, style, and appeal to an entryway if your front door opens to a staircase, and create a point of interest.

In terms of practicality, a runner will protect the flooring underneath and is a sensible choice for families with children and pets.

How often should you replace carpet?

New carpet replacement timeframes depend on several factors.

  • How much sun falls onto the carpet?

    • Has it begun to fade?

  • Does it carry stains that are too tough to shift?

  • Is it becoming threadbare in places?

If any of these apply to the carpet in your house, it could be a sign for replacement. Carpet in hallways, an entryway, and indeed, stairs will tend to show worn areas faster. A general rule of thumb for most carpets is around 10 years of regular use.

What kind of carpet is good for high-traffic areas?

Dublin Bay Short Wool Designer Floor Rug

Typically a low pile carpet and something that resists dirt and stains with a high level of durability is best for busy areas of the home.

Wool and broadloom carpets are excellent for busy areas with high foot traffic. There is added force on stair carpets as gravity helps us put a little more pressure on the fibres. Stair carpet gets a fair amount of foot traffic, so durability and long-lasting materials are key.

In conclusion:

All in all, you can't wrong with a runner for your stairs. They'll add warmth, practicality, a noise buffer, and offer a sense of style to your home.


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