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Abbie Downey

Verified Expert in Interior Design

Abbie is the Owner of Feather&Fossil and specialises in Maximalist Interior Design schemes for residential clients. Abbie has experience and qualifications in Interior Design and Project Management.

Blog » Interior Design Tips » How to Choose Safe and Showy Stairway Runners?

If your client lives in a duplex house or plans to build one, you may have a lot of staircases running across the place. Some of them, like the one that goes from their living room to the next floor, get high traffic throughout the day, and some others don’t. You need exclusive stairway runners for both of these stairs, tailor-made to their surroundings.

Since a stairway runner is a carpet runner that runs in the middle of the staircase, to give you the grip to walk on otherwise slippery steps, they are a must-have at home. For a family with kids, elders, and pets, or expecting newborns, your client’s floor might get damp, slippery, or worn out, leaving their loved ones susceptible to accidents.

When you choose the right runner and install it correctly, you’ve successfully mitigated falling risks. This guide will take you through how a responsible designer like you can carefully choose which runner to install. 

Areas in the Home that Need Stairway Runners

✔️ Zones frequently used by the residents

✔️ Hard wood stairs with a polyurethane finish

✔️ Stairs leading to kids’ rooms and kitchens

✔️ Stairs that have a steep angle

✔️ Stairs with narrow, or curved landing

✔️ Stairs with dim lighting

Read also – 14 Different Types of Staircases

Common Problems with Stairway Runners

❌ Some materials wear out easily

❌ They show dirt and wear and tear after a few years of use

❌ Some materials and colors require high maintenance

❌ If the runner isn’t properly installed, it can cause slipping

❌ Easy to absorb stains and hard to let go

❌ Pet paws can strain the fabric and wear them down

How to Decide Which Stairway Runner to Use?

What you use to cover your staircase is important, more than just for aesthetic reasons. You’re deciding for your client’s family’s safety and it needs to be rock-solid. Think about the following deeply before shortlisting stairway runner options.

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What Flooring Does the Stairway Have?

Each flooring material has a certain level of resistance, which prevents the walker from slipping. Any movement on the flooring is resisted and controlled to an extent. But, depending on the nature of the material and the chemicals used to coat them, their resistance varies.

Types of flooring in stairway and their resistance

Carpet is 4.4% more resistant than hardwood, and 2.89% times more resistant than vinyl plank.

The fibers are closely knit together and bounce back from movement on them faster than any other material. That’s how carpeted stairs prevent slipping and falling.

However, if your client insists on having slippery floors for aesthetic reasons, ensure you get a steady and strong runner to compensate for the resistance.

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Is it a High-Traffic Area?

To decide if it’s a high-traffic area, you need to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do the residents and guests use the stairs frequently, throughout the day? 
  • Are they likely to carry heavy weights, or liquids as they walk on the staircase? 
  • Are pets allowed in the region, and do they get in the way of the residents? 
  • How many residents use the staircase at the same time? 
  • Is there natural lighting when the staircase is most used?

The zones getting the highest footfall in any home are hallways, living rooms, kitchen, and dining areas. If you have office-goers and school-goers in the house, mornings are a busy time, and the chances of them bumping into each other in the staircase are high. In that case, the footfall increases multifold.

Your stairway runner needs to be able to handle them easily. 

Does Your Client Have a No-Shoe Policy?

Shoes with a sturdy base can resist slipping to an extent. But if your client has a no-shoe policy at home, they have a higher chance of falling. You might want to think about polypropylene type of rugs in that case.

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Does the Stairway Receive Enough Light?

Stairs when built according to the building code need to be well lit and properly structured to get both natural light and artificial light or at least one of them. But, depending on where they are, their exposure to light might be limited or plenty.

Pick out runner material, color, and patterns based on the light they receive during the day and night. For example, for stairs in the northern zone of the house, you can confidently choose saturated, bold colors that make the space lively and warm. For the southern staircases, remember to opt for darker colors that appear intensified. Alternatively, you can go for complementary softer colors too.

Direction Morning Evening
East Bright light, yellow shades with ample sunlight. Dimmer lighting with cooler shades
West More shadows and cooler lighting Warm and bright light
North Cool and dim light throughout the day
South Bright and warm throughout the day

Does the Stairway Have Multiple Landings?

If the stairway goes through multiple levels of the house, for each stop on each floor, there will be a landing space. If it does, you will have to consider their space and make sure the runner covers the landing adequately. This is important because if it doesn’t, the residents can trip over and fall down the stairs.

Cover each landing with the same runner to ensure consistent aesthetics. Take the landings into consideration to determine the runner length.

How Does the Client Want to Have the Stair Runner Installation Done?

If your client wants the runner to roll all around, come over the stair nose so that the carpet is flat on the height of the riser, you will need to choose material accordingly. However, if they want to go with the waterfall style of running the carpet over the stair nose so it falls straight down to the corner of the next stair tread, you will need to tailor-make your runner choices.

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Popular Stair Runner Ideas

Now that we’ve learned the safety aspects of choosing a runner, let’s dive into something more fun. Just remember, the patterns you choose must look good from the top, first tread, and the bottom of the stairs.

Here are a few popular runner themes designers go crazy about. 

Striped Stair Runners

They give off a soft, elegant feeling to the stairs, and are pleasant to look at. Ideal for high-traffic areas. You have a vast range of colors to choose from.

Traditional, Elaborate Designs

They have a rich color palette, and intricate patterns and exude a luxurious look. Great fit for living room staircases to give a majestic look to your home and also give a Hollywood celebrity home’s look.

Some of the patterns you could go for are floral patterns, Oriental designs, tribal motifs, and antique and faded looks. Here again, you have a wide range to narrow down from.

Julie Taylor, Residential sales and Interior Designer at FLOOR360 recommends,” When choosing a stair runner near your entryway, a bold pattern like an animal print that contrasts well with your existing flooring and decor is the way to go. It makes a design statement and an important first impression for guests while putting a smile on your face when you walk in your door. I recommend adding a matching custom area rug in a circular or oval shape near the bottom of the stairs or a hall runner on the upper level that extends the same carpeting. Patterns help hide debris and wear as an added benefit.”

Geometric Patterns

Let your creativity run wild and mix and match patterns. Throw in zigzag, or minimalistic lines, or combine two or more patterns to bring out an exquisite piece of art in the stairway runner. It brings a level of visual depth to the space, especially if you have a minimalist interior design style.

Read also – 9 Benjamin Moore Paint Colors Designers Love

Small Patterns

Tiny patterns that almost blend in with the environment but are distinctly visible are becoming designers’ favorites now. They don’t attract much attention, but when you walk on them, they look distinct so you know where you’re going. This pattern gives a spacious and tranquil feeling to residents. Ideal to use in small spaces.

Solid Colors

One solid color with minimal patterns to run throughout the staircase shows your staircase as one large block. It gives a contemporary look to the staircase and is trending amongst homeowners now. 

Stair Runner Materials You Should Know

The impact of foot traffic on stairs is higher than in an open area. Go for a fiber that will retain its strength and beauty over time and wear and tear. 


One of the highly durable materials to make stairway runners. When maintained properly, it lasts for almost 20 years, and with the right patterns in it, you don’t get to see wear and tear. Looks luxurious and attracts guests to take notice. However, the flip side is, that kids and pets might develop an allergy to the small fibers and threads that tend to come apart. It needs regular dusting and cleaning to maintain its rich look.

Read also – 23 Living Room Divider & Partition Ideas For 2024


Thin, durable, and excellent to walk on in the long run. They have a tactile feel and are comfortable to walk in, with or without footwear. They are water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally spilling fluids. That said, they aren’t the best fit for high-traffic areas. Let’s tell you why.

The polyester fibers are taken hundreds together and heated when they’re manufactured. When you step on any runner, the fibers lay down and stand back up fully straight. In polyester, however, the fibers become weak soon and take time to get back up, which can make it lose its grip.


Very good choice for high-traffic areas. They are incredibly durable and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Not the most foot-friendly option, but works well in the long run, especially if your client wears footwear in the house. The fibers are 3x stronger than in polyester and are slip-resistant. Go for looped and cut pile mix runners, they are stitched close together and support each other, so there’s a very low risk of falling.


Natural fibers are great, they add warmth and a homey feeling to the space. This material is made from Agave plants and is great for high-traffic areas. They are durable, strong, and slip-resistant.

Read also – How Can Designers Bring Realism To 3D Renderings In 2024?


Made from husk fibers, they have a warm color about them and are pleasant to look at. 100% biodegradable and if your client is focused on building an inviting atmosphere to their sustainable home, coir runners are a no-brainer. Their innate properties come in handy, in that they are water-resistant, they are hard underfoot, and slip-resistant. The one disadvantage of using coir is their shedding. 


Jute has a rough texture as such, but when blended with other softer materials, they are one of the best materials to make stairway runners from. Their natural oak color sits well with any color palette and can be modified to use anywhere in the house. 


They look like rattan, but they have a superior non-porous texture. They are inherently water-resistant, and stain-resistant, and are perfect to use in high-traffic areas. They are also durable and last long. The only disadvantage of this material is that it can’t be dyed easily. If you want any special colors or patterns in the seagrass stair runner, it can be hard and expensive to get it done.

Plush runners – the material you should avoid

The one type of runner you shouldn’t bring home at any cost is a plush stairway runner. Its fibers are longer and taller than others, they are stitched further apart than any other material, which means they easily give in to any pressure exerted on them. They are more susceptible to lying down than getting back up.

Might work in the short run, but with prolonged use, they can easily wear out and cost the client money for carpet installation.

Read also – 30 Jargons and Other Popular Terms Used in Interior Designing

How Can You Choose the Best Stairway Runner? With Foyr Neo

Choosing and installing stairway runners are matters of precision. You take calculated steps, measure every inch in great detail, and leave no room for chance. Every measurement you take and the space you cover directly impact the safety of the residents, so you need an error-proof tool to help you get it right.


That’s where Foyr Neo comes in.

  • Plan in Accurate Detail: Create and import floor plans into the tool, and attach or detach any particular portion to focus on it better. View and design plans in 2D and 3D alternatively.
  • Adjust natural and artificial lighting: Experiment with different types of lighting, both natural and artificial, and with different environmental settings. Choose between bright sunlight, sunrise, sunset, rainy season, and winter. Set any level and layers of artificial lighting.
  • The stair runner carpet samples you see in the showroom may look entirely different in home lighting, so experiment with different lighting and show your customer various samples.
  • View from all heights and angles: Set viewing angles, and heights and view the stairs from 360 degrees. Save the most agreeable views to create walkthroughs of them and impress your clients.
  • Get any custom color, pattern, or material: Are you planning a super-unique, glam look for your client’s home decor style? Get custom stairway runners or broadloom carpets made, or choose from our vast library of 60,000+ 3D materials in any texture, color, shape, or pattern. Also, choose which installation method is most feasible in the given space.
  • Take quick renders in 4K: Rendering doesn’t have to take hours or days. With Neo, you can render in a few minutes in HD and 4K quality, all while having other projects running parallelly.
  • Our basic plan itself gives you 60 renders a month, at $44/month. If you choose the standard plan, it gives you 135 renders a month at just $55/month. For advanced, or premium plans, 240 renders a month and an infinite pool of resources, support, and features lined up to your benefit.
  • Compare with the house’s overall style without glitching: Zoom in and zoom out of the stairway without glitching or crashing, and carry out changes smoothly. Exploit the power of our cloud-based engine and draw complicated designs easily in a few minutes. 

Well, what are you waiting for now? Get everything you need to design and choose the best stairway runner for your client at Foyr Neo. Start our 14-day free trial now.


Opt for low-pile, easy-to-clean materials, and secure installation to minimize tripping hazards for children and provide stability for the elderly.

Regular vacuuming, prompt cleaning of spills, and periodic professional cleaning can maintain both the safety and the aesthetic appeal of stairway runners.

Leave at least 4 inches from the wall to the finished side of the runner and from the stair rods. Aim for a width that covers the center of the staircase, providing ample walking space while showcasing the runner’s design.

Using a carpet pad beneath the runner provides added cushioning and prolongs the life of the edge of the runner and the stairs.

With proper tools, such as staple guns, bolster chisel, carpet tapes, tape measure a step-by-step tutorial, homeowners can successfully install a stairway runner; however, complex installations may benefit from professional expertise.

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