How to Finish the End of a Stair Runner

Updated April 17, 2017

Adding a decorative runner to hardwood stairs is an easy way to brighten up a plain stairwell. A carpet runner also offers protection for the wood and reduces the chances of slips and falls while going up or down a staircase. Correctly installing a runner to the steps is only half the job--ensuring the ends are secure not only keeps the runner in place, but can also offer additional design options. Whether you extend the runner past the stairs or stick to covering just the steps, finishing the ends will complete your intended look and feel.

Use the measuring tape to measure the height of the bottom riser and the width of the top stair.

Place the ends of the runner on the cutting surface. Use the box cutter to trim excess carpet that's longer than the height of the bottom riser, or the length of the top step. For the bottom riser, measure the cut from the bottom. For the top, measure the cut from the edge of the top riser.

Fold the excess rug under the portion to be used to cover the bottom riser and the top step. Use the staple gun to secure the fold by stapling across the length of rug where the ends of the excess underneath meets the top edge of the riser, for both the bottom and the top steps. Staple both edges of the runner along the bottom riser and the top step.

Secure the folded ends of the runner on the top and bottom with carpet tacks using the tack hammer. Run tacks across the entire length of the ends to prevent gaps.

Measure and mark the floor where you want to end your stair runner. Place the runner on the cutting surface and cut it to size using the box cutter.

Serge the ends of the runner to prevent unravelling, using serge yarn and an upholstery needle. Use a tight looping stitch, making sure there are no gaps between the loops of yarn.

Attach a border to the serged end, using upholstery thread and an upholstery needle. Placing the front sides of the border and rug together, use a tight looping stitch to attach. Unfold and smooth the ends when you're done.

Measure and cut an area of carpet pad 1 inch smaller on all sides for each end of the extended runner. Using the staple gun, attach the carpet pad to the wood, stapling around the inside of the carpet pad edge 1 inch from the outside edges.

Place the runner ends over the carpet pad and attach them along the edges of the risers using the staple gun. When attaching to the bottom riser, use the blunt chisel to gently push the runner into the crevice where the riser and the floor meet, to ensure a tight fit. Secure the ends of the runner with carpet tacks, using the tack hammer.


You can purchase runners with end caps that do not require you to serge the ends. The end caps are a continuation of the runner border and offer a clean, finished look. You can have fringe added by a fabricator if you're unsure of adding it yourself. Many carpet cleaning companies can help you find someone that provides that service.


Always use proper safety equipment and practices when using tools that can cause damage or harm. Make sure there are no air pockets under your runner to avoid trips and falls. Secure the fringe by stapling loose ends to the floor to avoid tripping.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Box cutter with sharp razor
  • Staple gun with 1/2-inch staples
  • Carpet tacks
  • Tack hammer
  • Carpet pad
  • Blunt chisel
  • Upholstery needle and thread (optional)
  • Upholstery fabric border (optional)
  • Serging yarn (optional)
  • Cutting surface
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About the Author

Suzanne Smith Dickinson has been a professional writer since 1989. She currently maintains a humorous blog that has garnered national attention. Her articles have appeared in "Community Health Forum" magazine, and many of the Suburban newspapers and special sections in Michigan, Georgia and North Carolina. She attended Georgia State University as an Honors English student.