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How To Install A Seagrass Stair Runner

 

A seagrass stair runner was part of my vision from the moment we saw this house in all it’s orange oak and shades-of-peach glory.

The angels sang the day I tore out the vile, pet-stained runner that came with the house. With a little elbow grease {and a lot of paint :)}……..

…..the foyer joined the new millenium.

Two big things I really wanted to conquer this year:  ripping out the 80s tile floor in this foyer, and installing a seagrass runner on the stairs.

Well, the tile isn’t going anywhere until our kitchen gets remodeled (since the kitchen will need knew flooring too, and why suffer twice?), but at long last, the seagrass runner is checked off the list.

I was a bit worried that the seagrass’ thickness would make it difficult to work with, but really the hardest part was cutting the runner perfectly straight. Working with a natural fiber such as seagrass, sisal or jute does pose some minor issues, so in case there is anyone out there who would like to use this material for a stair runner, here is a tutorial. This is truly a pretty easy project that I did myself.

Affiliate links are included in this tutorial for your convenience. Read more about affiliate links here.

 

HOW TO INSTALL A SEAGRASS RUNNER ON STAIRS

one

GATHER MATERIALS & TOOLS

•  runner:  for the runner, measure your stairs (treads and risers) and purchase a runner that is a little longer than necessary. I have 11 treads and 13 risers and bought a 20’ runner. I ended up with about 2 feet leftover after making two cuts, but I’m glad I had some excess in case I made a mistake somewhere.

•  fastener:  I used a pneumatic stapler hooked up to my compressor, and 3/4″ crown staples. You could also use an electric stapler.  I don’t recommend a hand-held manual staple gun (like this one that I use for upholstery projects) because you will be putting in a LOT of staples. Holy hand cramp.

 non-slip pad (I used 2 10′ lengths)

•  heavy duty scissors or utility knife

  Sharpie
  t-square or long ruler
 •  small trim (if needed)
two
CUT PAD
Cut non-slip pad into pieces for each tread, a bit shorter in width than your runner, and place on the treads.

three

UNROLL RUNNER

Unroll runner and secure at the top of the stairs (preferaby have another person hold the runner at the top.)  I recommend unrolling the runner before measuring out guidelines (#4). Stairs with spindles can play tricks on your eyes and you should visually see where the runner should fall, rather than just measure and staple. I learned this the hard way!

four

MEASURE & TAPE GUIDELINES

Measure and use painters tape as a guide on one side of the staircase (treads and risers). Use the tape to line up the runner as you work so it stays evenly spaced in the middle of the stairs. It’s very easy to let it get crooked without a guide (ask me how I know.)

When I first started I was actually off center by an inch or two and had to rip out the whole step and start again (and if you have to do this, seagrass is very forgiving. I just literally yanked it off, banged the staples into the riser, and started over – any pulled fibers on the runner were not visible!

five

START STAPLING

Line up edge of runner with the bottom riser – make sure you are centered or you’ll have to rip it out like me! – and start stapling, starting with the bottom riser’s corner and continuing as close to the binding as possible. I stapled every half inch or so to make it really secure.



Important!!! 

Why? Because stapling the runner under the tread after it has been secured to the step above means that you can make the runner very tight fitting. I chose this tailored look because I was concerned about excess runner causing slips, but you can also go with a “waterfall” installation – examples at end of post.

 

six

STAPLE TOP OF TREADS

Pull runner up and over tread, and staple a front corner. Staple at 1/2″ intervals to make very secure. I stapled with the weave of the runner to hide the staples as much as possible.
A couple pieces of advice here….
>>>>>DON’T staple across the front of the tread or your staples will be visible and you will have indentations where the staples are!!
>>>>>DON’T staple on binding, if you have one, because this will also result in your staples being visible!

 

seven

STAPLE BACK OF TREADS

(This blurry photo above shows the underside of the tread already stapled, ignore that. I learned as I went!)  Staying on the same side, pull the runner as tightly as you can across the tread and staple it on the back of the tread, as close to the next riser as possible. Continue across the back of the tread, pushing the runner as tautly as possible toward the riser.

  I actually used the tip of the nailer to pull the runner tightly before stapling. You can also use this tool to make each corner as tight as possible (found at most home improvement stores).

eight
STAPLE BACK AND SIDES OF TREADS
When you reach the other side of the tread, follow the binding, securing the edges of the runner.
nine
STAPLE UNDER TREADS 
NOW it’s time to make the step nice and tight by stapling the excess runner under the tread. With your hand, push the runner over the edge of the tread and staple underneath (the TOP of the lower riser) to make the step very tight fitting.

ten

MARK & CUT RUNNER

 When you get to the top of your stairs, don’t staple the runner to the last step just yet. First, hold the runner up to the top of the final riser and mark it on both sides where it should be cut. Then using a T-square or a long ruler, mark with a Sharpie a straight line, and cut with either a utility knife or scissors. I used scissors for mine and while it was arduous and surely dulled the scissors, it worked just fine. I found using the utility knife to be more difficult. Cutting the runner is the hardest part but you can do it!!

 

ELEVEN
STAPLE TO TOP RISER 
After the runner has been cut, staple the top of the runner to the step and then riser, making sure to get the staples as close to the top of the riser as possible.

 

TWELVE 
COVER TOP EDGE WITH TRIM
If your cut line was not perfect or you can see the staples at the top of your runner, you may want to cover the cut edge with a very small piece of trim*. (I did this on the upper part of our stairs, after the landing, because the cut line wasn’t great. The lower portion of the stairs came out really well, so I didn’t add trim there.)

To add trim, I cut it to size and painted it to match the tread above (the tread is stained a very dark brown, but reads black, so I just painted the trim black*).

Then I HOT GLUED the trim right over the very top of the seagrass runner. I also took the time to caulk between the trim and the tread and give this piece a finish coat of black paint (oil based for durability). The trim is not even detectable – you’d only know it was there if you looked at it very closely, or took a picture with a flash :). It just looks like part of the tread, and I love that it finishes off the look of the runner.

*If you are adding trim to cover your cut line, I recommend something very narrow and lightweight. You can paint or stain it to match the tread above, or you can stain it the same color as the seagrass runner if you want to blend it in even more.

That’s it! You’re done!! Piece of cake right???!!

 

 

SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER

STYLE OF INSTALLATION.  You can opt for the “waterfall” style (on the left), or the more tailored look (right) in which the runner is stapled under the tread. I chose the tailored look on the right, because the runner on the first few steps I installed felt a little looser than I wanted.

You can also achieve a nice tight fitting where the tread meets the riser by using the tool I mentioned above.

L – Landry & Acari, R – Herlong & Assoc.

BINDING OR NO BINDING?  I went with a binding because the seagrass herringbone runner I liked came at a good price with the binding. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me – I could have done without. I bought one long runner and cut it into 2 parts for my lower and upper stairs, which meant that one part of the stairs has the binding and the other doesn’t. I chose to put the binding on the bottom of my steps, with the cut part at the top. I don’t think there is a right or wrong here.

SLIPPERY? Several people had heard seagrass on stairs was a bad idea because supposedly it would be more slippery than a regular runner. I actually think the opposite is true.  In my last two houses we had wool carpet runners and over the years the kids and I slipped on them, and years ago my husband slipped down a bare set of wood stairs and broke a toe (the day before he had to be in a wedding!)  The seagrass runner has texture and I have not found it to be slippery at all in the month that we’ve had it installed.

COMFORTABLE?  Seagrass is definitely NOT as soft and comfy as a regular carpet. However, we’ve had natural fiber rugs in our homes for years and we don’t mind the texture, even on bare feet.

DURABLE?  No doubt about it, seagrass is great for not showing wear. With the 9×12 area rug we owned for over a decade, the only stain I wasn’t able to overcome was dog pee, which also left a smell that could not be eradicated. We used that rug in our dining room and then our living room and it saw a LOT of traffic over the years, and held up wonderfully. Since our dog doesn’t go up stairs, I wanted something that would stand up to the heavy traffic this family of 5 gives the stairs. Durability is the #1 reason I chose it for our stairs (okay, #2. I really just love the look!)


I think it’s important to note that my installation is not perfect. This was my first stair runner installation and I learned as I went. The upper portion of my stairs, after the landing, is off-centered even after I measured 700 times, because I got cocky and didn’t use tape as a guide  (see the #12 photo). You can’t see that part from the foyer, so I’m okay with it.

All in all,  I think it all came out pretty good, and I am my own worst critic. I am glad I tried it – and I am especially glad at the money I saved by doing it myself!!


UPDATE 
Check out this post on how our runner held up a year and a half later,
How Seagrass Runner Held Up
and this post is full of tips on what kinds of runners to avoid, issues to be aware of, and affordable runners I recommend for you to install a runner yourself.
Rug runners that are perfect for the Do-it-yourselfer to install
Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
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Anne

Friday 22nd of July 2016

Hi, Just wondering why you started at the bottom vs the top? Thanks!

Lisa

Wednesday 27th of July 2016

Hi Anne, I started at the bottom because that's the part that is visible from my foyer and I wanted to use the binded end of the runner at the bottom of the stairs. I suppose you could go either way if you don't use a binded runner!

Daniele

Monday 22nd of February 2016

Hi there, this is very useful thanks for sharing!

One question on the stapler. You say that you used a stapler with a 3/4 crown, but the link you have is to a 1/4 crown stapler. Could you clarify which one you used? I would like to install a jute runner and I am concerned that the 1/4 crown may go through the weave, but the 3/4 looks very wide.

thx daniele

Lisa

Wednesday 24th of February 2016

Hi Danielle, so sorry about that, I must have linked to the wrong one! I definitely used 3/4 staples. I don't think the 1/4" would sink very deeply into the treads and risers!

[email protected]rizon.net

Thursday 7th of August 2014

Hi everyone, I have had a lot of inquiries about this post and how the runner has held up. I've tried to get back to everyone personally but if you don't have an email address linked to your commenting profile then I have no way of getting back to you (if that's the case, add your email so you can get replies on comments!) I will write a follow up post in near future but a couple things --

--our runner has held up great to traffic! Looks just as good today as it did when installed a year ago.

--I purchased our runner from Overstock, it was the best deal I found on the herringbone pattern for the length I needed. There are lots of good deals on natural fiber rugs online. The one I bought is Safavieh and I'm really happy with quality.

--let me know if you have any other questions and leave your email address if you don't have one on your commenting profile!

Thanks for your interest and visit to Shine Your Light! Lisa

Erin Burke

Thursday 7th of August 2014

Thanks for the tutorial, Lisa! it looks awesome. I'm working on options now for our stair runner and leaning towards seagrass. Can you tell me where you got the runner from....the link doesn't seem to work. Thank you!

Kim Gibson

Saturday 31st of May 2014

I'm wondering the same thing as Tery. We are planning on putting a stair runner on our stairs. It looks beautiful in your home, but how has it held up???