One of the last things to do when finishing the basement is to take care of the stairs leading you into the new beautiful space you’ve created. In my case I decided that the original stairs were good enough and I just cleaned them up and painted them. But of course I wanted them to look better and to feel nicer under the foot. I also wanted to offer some cushion for the moment when my always running kids will fall on them.


After some evaluation and discussion with the wife, the carpet runner solution was selected. Of course at that moment I didn’t know anything about carpet runners. This lack of knowledge was fixed by a trip to the hardware store and by a few Internet searches.

As a result I came up with this list of materials needed for the job:

  1. carpet
  2. carpet underpad
  3. stair runner rods
  4. stair runner brackets and screws

Carpet
Underpad

And here is the list of tools needed:

  1. drill
  2. drill bit (a little thinner than the screws) to avoid cracking the stairs’ wood
  3. philips screwdriver head for the drill
  4. a good cutter
  5. scissors for the underpad
  6. stapler and staples
  7. pencil

Tools

As usual the most time consuming task was the actual carpet selection. Model, color and price were evaluated and a sale was desired. As a result I calculated the length of carpet and underpad I needed and I walked around a few weeks with the results on a piece of paper in my pocket. In the end I got what I wanted. Now, knowing the exact width of the carpet, I went shopping for rods. This was easy since I didn’t want anything really fancy. Home Depot had exactly what I wanted: rods of the proper length and matching sets of brackets and screws.

By the way, when calculating count every run and every riser and don’t forget to calculate the size of the overhang. Even if the overhang is small it will add up when you have many steps. When you have the final number add some more for the thickness of the underpad and for safety. It is way better to throw a foot of carpet away than to discover you are 1″ short.

So the formula used to calculate the length of carpet would be:

carpet_length = runs * (run_width + pad_thickness + overhang) + raisers * (raiser_height + pad_thickness)

As for the underpad remember you only need it on the runs – you are not gonna step on the raisers:

underpad_length = runs * (run_width + run_thickness + overhang + 1″)

The underpad doesn’t come nicely in the shape and width you need for your runner. It usually comes much wider so you need to do some surface calculation and see how the size and shape of the pieces you need will fit on the size and shape of the underpad available at the store. In the end basically you need as many pieces of underpad as the number of runs you have. And each piece is a rectangle with:

  • width = 1/2″ less wide than the carpet
  • length = run_width + run_thickness + overhang + 1″

When you have everything at home you can start working.

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