Mix & Match Patterns: DIY Stair Runner Made With Vintage Rugs

Interiors & Decor

DIY Vintage Stair Runner — Wit & Delight

I just couldn’t get this stair runner out of my head. Honestly, thinking about how I could achieve the look of this stair runner myself for a reasonable cost consumed me for a couple of weeks. After doing a bunch of research and watching many, many tutorials on YouTube, I gave it a shot. I’m so excited about how it all came together.

What You’ll Need

  • 6-10 rugs in the width of your choice—measure your stairs first to determine the total length needed (Read more on how I selected rugs below!)
  • Rug pads—measure your stairs first to determine the total length needed
  • Carpet knife or very sharp utility knife
  • Double-sided carpet tape
  • Pneumatic (or electric) staple gun
  • 1/2-inch staples
  • Tape measure
  • Yardstick or another straight edge
  • Painter’s tape
  • Marker

Step 1: Measure stairs. To figure out how many rugs you’ll need, measure the depth of the stair tread and the height of the riser. Multiply the total by the number of stairs to get the total rug length needed.

Step 2: Decide on a rug width. Measure the width of the treads from end to end, or from end to banisters. Runners look best with a 2-3″ margin on either side of the rug. In my case, we decided on a width of 2′ 6″.

DIY Vintage Stair Runner — Wit & Delight

Step 3: Shop for rugs of the exact same width. This is the most tedious but more important part of getting this eclectic look. There are a couple of ways to do it. Decide on the style of the rugs and the general color palette. I think this type of look works best with Turkish, ikat, and traditional patterns. There is enough variety within these styles to get an eclectic look without looking too wild. I decided to purchase all my rugs through ecarpetgallery.com for a couple of reasons.

  • They were affordable. Finding one-of-a-kind rugs that won’t break the bank is difficult.
  • I had purchased from them before. I knew they were legitimate and that the rugs were going to arrive in a quality that I could expect. Remember, vintage rugs do not look and feel like new ones! They need to be vacuumed and cleaned a bit.
  • They had standard sizes. Sometimes vintage rugs and the sites that sell them estimate the total width and length, or they come in a wide array of sizes. Because I wanted to minimize the cutting I had to do, making sure they were all the same width was super important.

Step 4: Plan your layout. We arranged the rugs on the floor and decided we wanted the bolder patterns at the top and bottom of the stairs, with the simpler, less bold patterns sprinkled throughout the middle of the stairs. We decided that each rug would cover two steps, with the rugs making a “seam” where it was easiest to secure, at the base of the stairs.

DIY Vintage Stair Runner — Wit & Delight

Step 5: Set Guidelines. Measure each tread and place painter’s tape where each side of the rug should land. This helps keep the runners straight. Please do not eyeball it! I had to redo a couple of rugs because I thought I could maintain a straight line on my own. Mistake!

DIY Vintage Stair Runner — Wit & Delight

Step 6: Create individual rug pads. Each stair tread needs a bit of padding and grip to help keep it in place. I cut these individually.

Step 7: Tape into place. Tape rug pads down with double-sided carpet tape. This stuff is STICKY.

Step 8: Align the top and bottom. Align the top of the runner with the bottom edge of the first tread. We have two landings on our stairs—most likely, you only have one. If you don’t have a landing, starting at the bottom of the first tread creates a cleaner look.

Step 9: Staple the rugs in place.

a. Using a pneumatic staple gun, staple the runner in place at its top edge, approximately every 3 inches. Be sure to include staples on both of the outer edges.

b. Use a bolster chisel to pull the runner taut against the corner of the riser and the next tread. Staple against the bottom of the riser approximately every 3 inches, including both of the outer edges. If you’re using a striped runner, step back and check to make sure the stripes are straight before moving on.

c. Pull the loose end of the runner over the edge of the next stair tread and repeat b until complete.

DIY Vintage Stair Runner — Wit & Delight

Step 10: Trim rugs. Using a straight edge and base of the stair, run a very sharp utility/carpet knife along the rug. There will be some unraveling. Try to avoid further unraveling the rug.

DIY Vintage Stair Runner — Wit & Delight

Step 11: Trim tassels. Trim the tassels off the next rug you’ll be securing to the stairs per your design. Slide it under the trimmed rug above and push any extra fibers into the crease with a bolster. This creates a tight seam and makes a clean look.

DIY Vintage Stair Runner — Wit & Delight

Step 12: Connect the rugs: Staple a new rug to the top of the tread. Repeat steps nine – eleven until you’ve reached the last tread or landing.

DIY Vintage Stair Runner — Wit & Delight

Step 13: Secure the seams. To further secure the seams where two different rugs have been trimmed, run a glue gun or super glue deep into the fibers of the rug, leaving a thin application of glue. You can also use brass stair rods to keep rugs from unraveling.

DIY Vintage Stair Runner — Wit & Delight

If you have the capabilities and more patience than I do, take your rugs and a detailed design plan to a local carpet repair company. They can help you serge the edges of your rugs and stitch them together. You do run the risk of the seams not being perfectly aligned with your treads!

I hope this tutorial helped. I would recommend watching as many videos of runner installations as you can if this is your first time working with a staple gun (like me!).

DIY Vintage Stair Runner — Wit & Delight

BY Kate Arends - June 27, 2016

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June 27, 2016 10:41 am

This is so creative! I love it! Thanks for the tutorial!

xo Helen @ http://www.KaleidoscopeSpinning.com

June 27, 2016 11:15 am

This is genius!! Thank you so much for sharing!

June 27, 2016 1:31 pm

This turned out so beautiful!

July 1, 2016 2:08 pm
Reply to  Stacy

I agree. This looks fantastic!

June 27, 2016 2:00 pm

I would love to do this in our next house if we have stairs! Until then…it could be fun to make a long hallway runner this way!

June 27, 2016 6:34 pm

I would have never, in a million years, thought of doing this- but it looks phenomenal! Brilliant idea!

June 30, 2016 11:25 am

This is so adorable! I’m currently in the market for new house rugs, and would absolutely love to have something like this.
Likely By Sea

Deanna Di Matteo
July 4, 2016 4:34 pm

I think this looks better than your inspiration! ?

August 6, 2016 5:49 pm

This is gorgeous and you, in my opinion, are so courageous to try and make it happen. You did a fabulous job and gave many of us inspiration to try it ourselves! Thank you….

September 8, 2016 11:42 pm

This has got to be one of my most favorite DIY’s to date! The details you put into creating the staircase really show off here- just stunning!

Xx, Tiffany | http://www.moderndaydreamliving.com

October 3, 2016 8:35 pm

Kate – this looks amazing! I’m looking for a similar red runner for my bathroom but unfortunately cannot find one narrow enough on ecarpetgallery.com (I need something 2’2″ or smaller x 7-8′). Do you have any other favorite sites? Thanks!

June 9, 2017 2:04 pm

This is one of the most beautiful DIYs I’ve ever seen.

Any chance you’d share which rugs you picked out? I haven’t used ecarpetgallery.com before.

September 25, 2017 12:47 am

We are a runner in the olympics.

January 17, 2018 8:09 pm

Add Bolster Chisel to “What You’ll Need” – we didn’t have one!

February 6, 2018 8:40 pm

These interior and exterior pictures are really awesome

Harry & Moyra
February 26, 2018 8:14 am

Hello Kate.
Great article!
We have a house in the far north of Scotland. The interior is Arts&Crafts. We want to make our stair runner a “collage” of Kilim runners. Our staircase has a four step winder at the top. Will this present problems as kilims can easily fall apart if cut. Any tips would be great. Best wishes – I would love to attach a picture of our house but can’t see how to.

June 27, 2019 9:10 am

Great advice
Seems intresting

June 29, 2019 10:27 am

Cool tips

Nicole Jolma
November 9, 2020 12:29 am

Love this so much. Which rugs did you go with?

January 1, 2021 1:08 am

I would love to do this in our next house if we have stairs! Until then…it could be fun to make a long hallway runner this way!

January 1, 2021 1:09 am

I think this looks better than your inspiration!…

January 1, 2021 1:09 am

These interior and exterior pictures are really awesome

March 31, 2023 4:53 pm

So I have the same 2 landing stair setup and have been STRUGGLING with runner placement until I found your post. I know you said you left a 2-3 inch margin along the sides, but can you please tell me how many inches the ends on the landings are from the far walls?

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