How to Put Carpet On Stairs

Updated February 21, 2017

Stairs leading directly from a living room or central hallway look more attractive and inviting when carpeted. And, a carpeted stairway will quiet your home by softening footsteps and absorbing sound waves. Carpeted stairs are safer, too, lessening your chances of slipping. Here are instructions on how to carpet a stairway.

Begin by measuring the width of the stairway and the length of each individual stair. You should never lay down carpet in one single long piece on a stairway as it will come loose in about a year and create a tripping hazard. Measure the depth of the stair and add to it the height from the step below it.

Use your utility knife and straightedge to cut one piece of carpet for each step on the stair. It’s OK to make the piece a little larger than your measurements as you can trim off the excess later. Flip the carpet over and makes the cuts from the underside down. Make sure to work on a surface which you don’t mind accidentally cutting or scarring.

Use the same measurements to cut tackless fastening strips, also known as tack strips, for your floors. These are small lengths of wood that have barbed tacks on the top to which the carpet will adhere to when it is laid down. They also come with nails driven to the strips so you can nail them securely to the floor.

Lay one tack strip on each side of the stairway on both the vertical inclines and the horizontal steps. Use your hammer to securely nail the tack strips in place.

Place the first piece of carpeting onto the bottom step and make sure it fits snugly into place. There should be a little carpeting flap that goes up the incline to the second step left at the top of your carpet piece.

Starting with the very bottom of the carpeting, place the handheld carpet stretcher about a half inch from the sides of the carpet, then strike the back of the stretcher with your hammer to seat the carpeting on the tack strips beneath it. Do this to both sides and work your way up until you’ve affixed the entire carpet piece, but not the flap at the top.

Place the next piece of carpeting on the following step. This time make sure the bottom edge of the carpeting strip slips under the flap of the previous strip. Then seat the carpet onto the tack strips as before.

Repeat Step 7 until the entire stairway has been carpeted.

Use the utility knife to trim off any excess carpeting on the sides of the stairs.


Avoid utility grade carpeting. Stairways get heavy wear, especially along the tread nosing. Choose an easy-to-clean variety with a dense pile. Carpet with attached cushion backing is cheaper and easier to put down, but isn't recommended for stairways.

Things You'll Need

  • Circular saw
  • Carpeting
  • Utility knife
  • Straight edge
  • Hammer
  • Handheld carpet stretcher
  • Measuring tape
  • Bare floor
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About the Author

John Albers has been a freelance writer since 2007. He's successfully published articles in the "American Psychological Association Journal" and online at Garden Guides, Title Goes Here, Mindflights Magazine and many others. He's currently expanding into creative writing and quickly gaining ground. John holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Central Florida in English literature and psychology.