What is a stair runner?

What is a stair runner?

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Stair runners are a great contemporary style choice for both modern and traditional homes alike – they can come in practically any colour or pattern you could wish for, and they add a touch of style to an area that might otherwise be overlooked. Your staircase is as much part of your home as your living room or bedroom, so don’t neglect its looks – get creative with a stair runner. We’ve got a guide packed full of ideas below.

Stair runners aren’t just a stylish accessory for your stairs, they can also be a practical one. Smooth flooring like laminate or tiles can be slippery, making stairs potentially dangerous for children, pets, and people with mobility issues (and those who love fluffy socks). Carpet can add more texture and grip, reducing the risk of slips and falls – and it absorbs some of the noise of feet thundering up and down the stairs!

In can be hard to know where to start when choosing any kind of décor, and finding the right stair runner to suit your needs is no exception. Let us help out: we’ve got all the information you need on stair runners, the pros and cons, as well as incredible style guide tips and ideas.

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What is a stair runner?

A stair runner is a strip of carpet that covers your stairs from top to bottom while leaving the original flooring exposed at the sides. It may originally have been a way of cutting costs – protecting both the stairs and the people who used them without having to pay the full price of having your entire staircase carpeted. However, it soon became a classic interior design feature – something about the contrasting textures and patterns really makes the most of a narrow space.

Stair runners can either come as pre-made rugs that you can pick up from stores ready for use, or you can have them custom-made. Tapi’s carpet whipping service can turn any of our carpets into a custom rug or stair runner for your home!

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Pros and cons of having a stair runner


  • You can pick any pattern or carpet texture you like
  • Less expensive than carpeting your entire staircase
  • Very popular and stylish
  • Muffles noise of people (and pets) using the stairs


  • Unusual staircases (e.g. a staircase with a pronounced turn) will require custom runners, which can be more expensive
  • Light stair runners may show wear and tear more easily
  • While reducing slips is one of the benefits of a stair runner, old, worn carpet can become slippery and dangerous in itself.
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Stair runner carpet ideas

Now that you’ve got a better idea of whether stair runners could be right for you and your home, we can jump into some of the fun ideas you can try out!

Material ideas for stair runners

All our carpets can be transformed into gorgeous stair runners and all fibre types have different strengths. Wool is the classic choice for a reason – the natural fibres are ultra-resilient to years of trampling. That said, it doesn’t have the legendary resistance to stains and water damage of polypropylene. Sisal looks gorgeous, and weaves such as our Boucle style provide an excellent anti-slip surface, but it does need to be professionally installed by a contractor who knows how to handle it.

A low pile carpet style such as velvet or Berber is ideal for the stairs, offering the perfect combination of toughness and texture.

Tapi Top Tip: Why not consider a contrasting statement colour for your whipping thread, for the ultimate in staircase style?

Colour is another important factor when choosing your stair runner. Dark tones have obvious advantages for homes with little ones and pets, where there is a higher likelihood of stains and wear and tear. However, darker colours may contrast too starkly with lighter wood stairs, so opting for a medium to light coloured stair runner can look great against other light colours like beech or oak wood. 

Traditional stair runner carpet ideas

Stair runners look impeccable in traditional homes, particularly older homes with grand staircases. There are infinite ways to use a a stair runner to give your classic hallway a unique personality:

  • Opt for a patterned carpet against plain wood stairs and plain walls to create a contrasting focal point in your hallway.
  • Consider a tartan carpet to add to the traditional aesthetic of your staircase, especially if you have heavier wood tones. The geometric pattern will draw the eye upwards, really complementing the space.
  • A wool carpet in a subtle neutral shade and a sophisticated weave such as herringbone, can provide a refreshing element of modernity without clashing with the traditional look.

Contemporary stair runner ideas

Who says that stair runners can only look good in traditional homes? Not us! We love the look of fun and fabulous stair runners in modern homes, adding a touch of cosy warmth to more contemporary spaces. Here are some ways you can add a stair runner into your modern home while adding to the fashionable look of your home:

  • Opt for a block colour runner paired with painted white stairs to run with the modern aesthetic, as this clean bold choice will really make an impact.
  • Vertical stripes draw the eye upwards, enhancing the sense of space and making the ceiling feel higher.
  • Adding decorative rods can help to mix up the styles in your home, so you bring a touch of classic elegance into the modernity of your space.
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If you’re considering a stair runner for your home and you want a professional fitting included, then why not come down to your local Tapi store. You can check out our selection of stair runners and speak to our Floorologists about all the options available to you. Alternatively, you can discover how to install a stair runner yourself, with our handy guide, or find out our pick of the best flooring for stairs.

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Published: 28-07-2022

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