Friday, May 7, 2010

How to Install a Dash and Albert Rug as a Stair Runner

It turns out the Bloomin' Onion light fixture will need a conversion kit to make it work in the stairwell. And, of course, that kit is backordered until June. So it will be a while before I can hang that coconut disco ball and share it with all of you. Bummer!

While we're waiting, I'll go ahead and post the details about how we installed the Dash & Albert runner on the stairs. We really flew by the seat of our pants on this project because for the first time ever Google failed me and even a call to Dash & Albert customer service left me scratching my head.

Since we have no carpet laying skills nor tools we decided we needed to hire someone. Nobody (friends or professionals) was very confident in the idea. I kept telling them, "I've seen it done in magazines so it CAN be done!" We finally found a carpet installer (Todd) from Craigslist who seemed genuinely interested in figuring it out and doing a careful job. 

Todd brought all of his tools over and together we got to work. Because we didn't know what we were doing, it took us ALL day. I think Todd was a little afraid of me because he wouldn't tack a single step down until I gave him the official OK, the stripes are lined up thumbs-up.  Amazingly, by the end of the day, we were best buddies, sharing recipes and sob stories. He even taught me how to use his fancy electric staple gun.

OK, here is what we used:

1) Two 12 foot cotton woven runners from Dash & Albert (We have 13 stairs and this was just enough to cover all of them with no landing.)

2) 1/4 inch rug padding

3) Utility knife

4) Electric Carpet Staple Gun (We tried little carpet tacks, but they showed more than the staples.)
5) Carpet Stair Tool (This was used to tuck the carpet into the crease between the tread and the riser giving it a nice crisp look.)


1) Cut the rug pad the same size as the depth of each step and about 1 inch shorter on each edge of the width of the runner. This will allow the runner to lay nice and flat along the edges of your treads.

2) Center the rug pads on each tread.

3) Staple the pads to each stair tread. We used quite a bit of staples to make sure it was completely secure.

4) Because our top treads do not have an overhang where we could hide our staples, we started from the top step and worked our way down. Todd told me it is usually done from the bottom up, though.

5) Staple the runner to the under side of the top tread where it is not visible. (In our case, these staples are visible if you really look for them, but they are less visible than if you use carpet tacks.)
6) Pull the runner tightly down over the tread, step back and carefully check to make sure the stripes are all lined up perfectly. 

7) Use the carpet stair tool to push the runner down into the crease where the tread meets the riser. Check stripes again for alignment. 

8) Staple runner into the crease between the tread and riser so staples will not be visible.

9) Wrap the runner TIGHTLY over the tread all the way back to the top of the riser below. Check stripes for alignment.

10) Staple runner against the very top of the riser where it is not visible.

11) Continue doing this until all steps are covered.

Special Notes of Interest:

1) If you need to cut the runner (we did), use a utility knife and leave enough extra to turn the edges under 2 times so it will not fray. You will need to plan carefully where to cut so that you can hide this edge on the underside of a tread.

2) These cotton runners are VERY stretchy so you will need two people to really pull it taut before stapling. 

3) We did not staple the runner down onto the stepping surface of any of the treads. This was done for aesthetics and to protect the runner from additional staples that could damage it. The runner does wind up shifting a smidge now and then, but it is easy to just readjust if necessary.

4) The runners are only about $118 each so it will not be a bank breaker should they need to be replaced for any reason. Plus with all the great choices available, it will be fun to replace it with different color combos once it wears out.

I'm sorry I don't have pictures to go along with these instructions. I was too busy helping install the runner to grab my camera. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.


lisa and laura said...

Ok, I'm SO impressed. I love the carpet and can't believe you installed it yourself! Nice work!

Happy Mother's Day, Kim! Hope the little ballerinas are good to you! XOXO

Anonymous said...

I'm mostly impressed with your bravado in hiring a guy named Todd off Craigslist who claims to specialize in carpets. I'm irrationally convinced that Craigslist is full of criminals and would have therefore been 100% certain that "carpet care" was insider code for prostitution.

But, that's just me.


Looks awesome. Congrats!

Kim said...

Lila - Just to clarify, I didn't do this myself. We hired a carpet installer. I was just his assistant, but now that I did it with him I feel it's something BSD and I could do on our own.

SS- I know! It was scary to turn to Craigslist, but we talked to him on the phone for a while before having him come over. He was a contractor for Lowe's and business has been slow so he posted an ad on CL.

Kerri said...

Wow! Your stairs look AWESOME!! Love it!

Anonymous said...


I am writing from a design firm in NYC and we have a client whom loves the Dash and Albert carpets. we are specifically interested in installing a stripe wool woven runner at a back staircase. The company that will be installing this has never worked with the Dash and Albert wool woven carpets and is hesitant to install this. The installers have a large runner sample of this carpet and they have glued the carpet pad to the back of the runner, which seems very stable. They are however worried once this is installed and there is a lot of foot traffic, the glue will come undone seperating the carpet from pad. Per your instructions, you all used an electric carpet staple gun. Did you initially try a carpet glue? Please advise your thoughts.

Thank you,

Kim said...

Hi Amanda...

I understand where you are right now. I talked to a few carpet installers and NONE of them knew what do with it.

We did not use any glue on our runner or stairs. I never even considered glue. That doesn't seem durable enough to me, and since we live in a hot and humid climate I'd worry it would not stick well during the summer months.

The padding is stapled to the stair treads and the carpet is stapled in the creases and under the tread overhang. My thought is that the padding is now in place (using staples) and if the runner starts to get too worn out we can just pull it up and replace it.

A few other points...we used a cotton runner. It is very stretchy. I think the wool will be easier to install and probably be more durable in the long run.

This is installed on our main stairwell so it gets a ton of foot traffic. While it's only been about 4 months now, it still looks as good as it did the day we installed it.

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me at

Good luck! I'd love to see a picture when it's done. :)

Kim @ NewlyWoodwards said...

This is so awesome. Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks. We just bought an old home and when we took out all the carpet/padding/staples/tack strips, it just doesn't look like it's going to clean up well enough to stain like I hoped. I was trying to decide how to cover it stylishly, and here it is. I think this will be more comfortable, too.

Thanks again! I'm totally inspired.

Kate Riley said...

Great tutorial ! I am redoing my stairs right now, ripping out the carpet and installing hardwood and I was JUST eyeballing a D&A runner !!!! So glad I stumbled across this (via Newly Woodwards) cause I'll need this when I install my runner!

Anonymous said...

It ?is intolerable.

Unknown said...

Hi Kim! I'm planning to install our new rug tomorrow, but I have to call up the guys who do carpet cleaning (Orange County, California has a lot of these services) 'coz of some white spots on it. I had to postpone the installation until next week. Anyway, you did a pretty good job there. I salute you! I admire girls who do men's work.

Danielle @ Transforming Home said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have decided to rip the carpet off of my stairs and have been wanting to install a Dash and Albert runner - but had absolutely NO IDEA how to do it. There is nothing on the internet about how to do this - except for you! You completely rock! I am so excited to get started now - thanks a ton!


Anonymous said...

Hi and Thanks for such a useful post.
I would like to install a Dash and Albert runner and have a question for you. Like you, I would need to use two runners to cover the stairs. Is the break between the two runners visible? Where did you join them?
Also (this is a second question, I guess)-- on the bottom two steps in our house there is a kind of column/post thing where the railing begins. It juts onto the stairs, and makes the treads shorter, so the runner would have to be cut there to fit. I can't see the bottom of your stairs (which look great btw!) in your picture, and wonder if you ran into something like that, and if so, how does it look?

Thanks again for the great post!

Kim said...

Hi anonymous...

I used two runners and did not need to join them. We only needed to cut each one to fit the length of the stairs. Our stairs are separated by a landing (you see this in the photo where the pictures are hanging). We did not lay the runner along the landing. That is just hardwood. You turn the corner on the landing and then the runner starts back up again.

Also, we had no posts/column issues to contend with. I would advise the minimal amount of cutting b/c the cotton may unravel if it's not bound properly along the edges. It is a loosely woven rug.

I hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim,
I am the last anon. poster. Thanks for your quick and helpful reply. One more question, if you don't mind. The main reason we want to install a runner is safety, especially for my elderly mother and young children. Do you find that your cotton runner is slippery at all? I like the stripes (and also price) of the D&A cotton rugs, but am wondering if it is ultimately better to go with wool


Kim said...

Before we had the cotton runner the stairs were covered in berber carpet. You can see this in a previous post. We have not found the runner to be any more or less slippery than the carpet. It is definitely LESS slippery than the plain hardwood that we had on the stairs for a while before installing the runner.

We are barefoot in our house. We either have bare or stocking feet most of the time. It is not slippery with bare feet or shoes. But both the berber carpet and the runner can be a little slippery in just socks.

l.alden said...

Thanks for providing these great instructions! The other day I was asked how to install Dash and Albert runners on stairs and it got me thinking... I've also seen it done before but haven't ever seen a "how-to." Can't wait to give these a try! Did you use the indoor/outdoor runners or the regular cotton runners?

alanna said...

Are you in the Boston area? I just found a "Todd" on craigslist, was wondering if if was the same guy? I just ordered these rugs and am looking for an installer now. Thanks for the awesome instructions! Your stairs look amazing!

Kim said...

Hi Alanna...

Thank you for your sweet comments! I am not in Boston. I am in Virginia. So, I'm guessing it's a different "Todd." Good luck! :)

Amy B. said...

This is gorgeous and I'm considering this for our house. I have a dash and albert runner in a hallway and like that I can throw it in the wash. How do you clean your stairs and has the runner remained in good condition? I'm guessing you can't throw it in the wash.

Off the Mat said...

EXACTLY the info I was looking for! I'm using Dash's Montana Stripe on our stairs to give my older dog some traction. Tried using carpet tape, "U Glue" - this looks like perfection! Ordering the supplies now. THANKS!

Tery H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tery H said...

Thank you, thank you. I have been wanting to do this for awhile now but didn't know how. I too emailed D&A and was told it's not recommended as a runner. Then why do they show it on their website?! I have seen it in movie set houses too (The Change Up).

I am going to give it a try. How is it holding upmwith day tomday life? I have a toddler, teenagers and 2 dogs.

I am so glad I found your blog and now am a follower!
Thank you.

Kim said...

Hi Tery..

I cannot believe D&A told you they don't recommend using the runners on stairs b/c YES! they show it right in their catalog! Ridiculous!

Anyway...many of you have asked how it's holding up and it's been a year and a half and still looks great. It's easy to vacuum. Most dirt vacuums up, but if it gets some other sort of stain on it, I've been able to spot clean it with a rag and soap/water.

Good luck! I'd love to see your project when you're done! :)

A room with a view said...

Thank you for sharing this - it looks fabulous. A new follower!

Nadia Watts said...

This is amazing!!! I can't wait to try this!


Serendipitous Home said...

Hi Kim,
I just googled Dash and Albert runner and am so thankful I came across your blog! I have an inspiration photo from Canadian House and Home Magazine of a pure white stairway that has a Dash and Albert rug on the stairs that I adore and am so glad to see you have helped us with the "how to" to make our dreams come true! Thank you!
I noticed some people have asked if it was the cotton runner or the indoor outdoor one you used?
I would love to know.
thanks so much!


Anonymous said...

Hi - I'm thinking of doing this as well - yours looks great! A guy from our neighborhood carpet and flooring store will be able to help with installation. It's been about 2 years now - how is your runner holding up to the steady
foot traffic of a main stairway? Ab in StP

Kim said...

Serendipitous Home - THank you! We used the cotton runner. I've seen others use the indoor/outdoor runner and that seems like a great option. Especially if you have pets.

Ab in StP - Thank you! Two years and it's still going strong. Still looks great to me. Maybe a bit more "relaxed" looking? As in a little bit of stretching and a hint of fading. But this makes me love it even more. Like a comfortable pair of jeans. Just starting to really look casual.

I will note that we do not have any pets and we are barefoot 90% of the time. Although my kids and their friends often have DIRTY feet so it's no better than shoes some days.

Other things to mention..I vacuum it with the beater brush. VERY powerful. It holds up like a champ to this, but this could have sped up the slight stretch. And the very first step where we used tacks is not holding as well as the staples. So I'd definitely recommend using a carpet staple gun. The stapled stairs have NO issues.

Rebecca said...

How can I find Craig? I'm hoping he's near my part of Virginia!

Mike Habbani said...

Hello, I am writing from a design firm in NYC and we have a client whom loves the Dash and Albert carpets. we are specifically interested in installing a stripe wool woven runner at a back staircase. The company that will be installing this has never worked with the Dash and Albert wool woven carpets and is hesitant to install this. The installers have a large runner sample of this carpet and they have glued the carpet pad to the back of the runner, which seems very stable. They are however worried once this is installed and there is a lot of foot traffic, the glue will come undone seperating the carpet from pad. Per your instructions, you all used an electric carpet staple gun. Did you initially try a carpet glue? Please advise your thoughts. Thank you, Amanda

Sandy said...

What size staples did you use? I see there is a "fastener range", a "wire guage", a "wire size", and a "crown width". Yikes! I would have expected a width, length, and thickness, but what is the fourth measurement? Can you just give me a staple #?

Do you think the thicker rug mat that Dash and Albert sells will suffice? I just ordered it, along with my cotton runners, and it is definitely tackier than the open weave style, but just 1/8th of an inch thick.

Your article is very informative. Dash and Albert should probably provide a link.

Thanks, Sandy

Lyda said...

"I've seen it done in magazines so it CAN be done!" – I love your positive attitude! :D You can accomplish something when you're truly determined to do it. You even installed the carpet without asking help from an expert! Tools, guidelines, and dedication are all you need. I'm sure this will be easier for you next time.

Lyda Tavorn

Unknown said...

Thanks for the instructions on how to install the runner. We just finished ours and it looks great. It took my husband and father in law 4 hours and they never installed a rug before. I just wanted to let everyone looking to do this project to beware of the carpet padding you buy. My husband bought ours at Home Depot and after it was installed we realized that it has dime sized hard pieces of plastic in with the foam. The runner is so thin that you can feel them on your feet when you walk on the stairs. I was a bit disappointed but I don't have the heart to ask him to redo it. Good luck with your project. You will not be disappointed!!

BethB said...

This is great advice and just what I was looking for. Where did you get your rug pad?

BethB said...

Thanks - this is great advice and just what I was looking for. Where did you get your rug pad

Kim said...

BethB ..I'm sorry it took me forever to reply. Todd brought the rug pad. He got it at Lowe's.

Debbie Gartner said...

Hi Kim. This is an excellent post and really explains how to install one of these runners very well. I'm wondering how slip resistant these are.

Earlier this week, I went to a customer's house where they had 2 of them installed and they seemed kind of slippery to me. And, in fact, her son fell down on them and broke his arm. He had just gotten the cast removed the day before.

So, I'm wondering how well these are holding up for you and if you've had any issues with them, esp as more time has elapsed.

For my customer, they were installed before she moved in, so they've been there for a while.

She is going to replace them (part of it is covered by insurance as they had flood, but the other part is the safety factor as she wants to avoid another accident. I'm planning to do something with more slip resistance.

- Debbie

Kim said...

Hi Debbie...

We LOVE it! We do not find it slippery. Especially compared to a bare wood stair. We used to have regular carpet on the stairs and I think that was probably more slippery. My girls would use the carpeted stairs as a slide all the time. Now if they try that the rug shifts a bit and provides friction so they can't zoom down anymore. Also, my neighbor slipped down her carpeted stairs and really messed up her ankle so I'm always very conscious when walking down stairs to hold on to the rail. I wonder if the pitch of the stairs or the depth of the risers has anything to do with how easily it is to slip down a stairwell?

The runner has held up really well for us also. I vacuum it with a beater carpet attachment, and then use the hose to get the loose dirt out of the creases at the back of the riser, and it hasn't had any problems taking that abuse. It has faded a bit, and has stretched out a bit, I'm sure, but we're very casual so that just adds to the appeal for us. I also love that it's such a low investment so if it wears out (or if I get tired of the color scheme) I will not hesitate to replace it with another Dash and Albert runner. Hope this helps!

kirby_nator said...

I had this done at a beach house I was renovating, and we LOVE the results. I could not find anything on the internet either, but the contractor assured me his carpet guy could do anything. My one lesson learned (aside from following my gut and being present for the critical installs :-) ) was to start from the top down on this project. Since you're usually looking UP the stairs, the top riser becomes much more critical than the bottom risers. In our case, he started from the bottom up (just like your pro said was typical). Unfortunately he ran out of carpet at the top riser! If he had started top to bottom, we would have just left the bottom riser uncarpeted, and no one really would have noticed.

Also important, make sure to order all your runners at the same time, and let the folks know you will be doing a stairwell installation (either Dash & Albert or your local retailer). When I had to go back to get one more runner to have a piece for the top riser, the mfg lot was actually different and the stripes didn't align properly! The last runner was actually 3/4 inch wider than the first 2 that had been installed! Again another reason to start at the top...the mismatch width would not have been noticeable on the bottom riser, but looking up the stairs it definitely would be!

All in all we love it and the striped indoor/outdoor rugs are so great for a beach house!

ekhtsasy said...

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تنظيف خزانات بجدة - شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
تنظيف خزانات بجدة

Unknown said...

I love the color of rug you chose on the stairway.

Greetings from Dahl House Design