How to Install French Cap Carpet

Stairway image by Miodrag Trajkovic from

French cap is a term used to describe stairs that have a edge that curves under on the rise of the stairs. Capping and banding refers to each step being covered in individual pieces of carpet rather then one piece stretched and fitting to the entire stair structure. Carpeting French capped stairs can be a difficult task because of the precise measurements required for covering the length of the step and tucking of the carpet beneath the edge of the step.

Measure the length of the horizontal position of the stair. Measure the length of the vertical position of the stair, the edge of the stair and underneath the step of the stair and the depth of the stair. Subtract the width of the stair by one inch and you have the amount of tackless strip needed for your carpeting. Cut the tackless carpeting strip to length measured.

Cut another strip the same length to go on the stairs. Working your way from the bottom of the stair steps hammer the tackless strips into place, two strips per step. Spikes on the strip need to be angled downwards when placed on the horizontal part of the step. Spikes placed on the vertical part of the stairs should face upwards for better grip.

Measure the length of padding needed to cover the horizontal position of the stairs and depth of the step and mark it. Cut the square of padding out. Measure the length of padding that will cover the vertical rise to the stairs and it's length. Cut the vertical measurement and it's length from the section of padding. Push the carpet padding onto the tackless strip until the strip has a good grip on the pad.

Staple the remainder of the carpet beneath the edge of the step and into the back corners of the edge. Make some slack on the padding for the carpet tread.

Measure the distance of the step and add the overlap of the edge of each step, this is the amount of carpet that will be needed. Cut the carpet to the measurement required. Set the chisel onto the carpet over the padding on top of the tackless strip and gently tap with the hammer along the length of the strip. Tighten carpet over the horizon of the step and tap it into place with the chisel.

Tap the carpet into place over the next section of tackless strip, pull on the carpet as you continue along it's length. Staple the carpet into place underneath the curved edges of the step. Staple the corners of the carpet every three inches onto the bottom of the edge. Tuck the next stairs carpet into the edge of the step in front of it by tapping it with the chisel.

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