Cap & band carpet installation

Written by jane humphries
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Cap & band carpet installation
Carpeting stairs provides a non slip and secure surface to walk on. (stairs image by Horticulture from

The cap and band carpeting method is a professional technique to install a stair carpet in sections. Unlike the waterfall method that uses a single piece of carpet, the cap and band uses individual pieces for each step combining the horizontal tread or cap with the vertical riser or band. The method has an advantage over time in that you can replace sections of carpet that show wear rather than having to refit the whole stairway. Learning the cap and band technique provides a method to install a stair carpet successfully.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Tack strip
  • Wood saw
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife
  • Carpet underlay padding
  • Knee kicker
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Stair tool (or chisel)

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  1. 1

    Measure across the base of a riser and across the back edge of a tread using a measuring tape, and subtract 1 inch from each number. Cut the tack strip to the length of each measurement using a wood saw.

  2. 2

    Fasten the riser tack strip horizontally centred and 3/4 of an inch up from the base of the riser, using a hammer to drive the prepositioned nails into the stair. Make sure the sharp angled tacks face down toward the floor. Fasten the tread tack strip horizontally centred and 1/2 an inch in from the back of the tread with the tack points facing up the stairs.

  3. 3

    Measure the length of the cap and band by adding the riser height to the depth of the tread, and include any step overhang between the tread and the riser. Cut the carpet to the cap and band length, and cut the carpet 1 inch wider than the stair width, using a utility knife.

  4. 4

    Position the carpet underlay padding between the tack strips, leaving a 1/2-inch gap at the side edges. Center the edge of the carpet at the bottom of the riser and push the carpet onto the angled tacks.

  5. 5

    Stretch the cap and band carpet piece up the riser using a knee kicker. Use a staple gun to fasten staples at 3-inch intervals across the top of the riser underneath the step overhang. Wrap the carpet around the overhang and to the back of the tread.

  6. 6

    Stretch the carpet over and onto the angled tacks on the tread tack strip. Push the edge of the carpet down behind the back of the tack strip using a stair tool. Tuck the side edges under by 1/2 an inch and staple the edges at 3-inch intervals.

  7. 7

    Repeat the cap and band procedure for each step working consecutively from the bottom of the stairs to the top. Wedge the starting edge of each cap and band carpet section into the gap between the tack strips with a stair tool to finish each step.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a chisel to wedge the carpet between the tack strips if you don't have a stair tool.

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