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How To Measure A Stair Runner

Tread, Riser, Nose and Crotch

Stairs are made up of treads (the part you step on) and risers (the upright part). It is usual for each tread to overhang the riser below it a little and this overhang is called the nose. The inner corner, where a a tread meets the riser above it is called the crotch.

Not All Treads Are Made Equal

All of the risers on a staircase are likely to be of equal height. This is because even a small difference in this height can cause you to stumble. Treads however can vary in depth and it is not unusual to have one or two deeper, and wider, treads at the bottom of a staircase.

You will therefore need to measure every tread.

A Very Long Tape Measure Or A Bit Of Adding Up?

There are two ways to determine the total length of runner you will need:

Measure each tread and riser individually, making a note of each measurement as you go. When measuring risers, you will need to measure from the top of the nose of the tread above to the point where the riser meets the tread below. This is called the crotch of the stair. When you have finished taking measurements, add them all together to find out how long your runner will need to be.

Fix one end of a very long, flexible tape measure at the top of your stairs where you want your runner to start. Then fix your tape measure at each point where a riser joins to the tread below it, until you reach the bottom, where you want your runner to end. Your tape measure will show the total length of runner you need.

Where To Start?

Most people will advise you to start at the top. But where is the top. Actually it's up to you to choose from either of the following options:

  • The landing at the top of the stairs. If you choose to do this you will need to allow at least 300mm (12") back from the nose where the landing overhangs the first riser. Anything less will be a tripping hazard and is obviously not recommended.
  • Under the nose of the landing. This is ideal if you do not have a covering on the landing or your fitted landing carpet covers the nose of the landing.

Where To End?

Again you have three choices about where your stair runner should end and this is entirely down to preference:

  • On the bottom tread, leaving the bottom riser bare.
  • On the bottom riser.
  • Extended onto the floor at the bottom of the stairs. Again you will need to consider safety and ensure that you are not creating a tripping hazard as you approach the stairs to climb them.

You can combine any start and end points to suit your particular staircase. Please remember to take into account that your choice will affect the overall length of stair runner you need.

You will need to allow a little extra runner for a neat finish at the top and bottom of your stairs. Alternatively, you can use Easybind for a neat and attractive finish to your runner.

Wear & Tear

We do NOT recommend ordering a longer stair runner than you need to allow you to lift and move your stair runner periodically to extend its wear. In practice, you are unlikely to do this and the effect can be unsightly. A good quality stair runner, fitted properly, with adequate protective underlay, should last many years, making this outmoded practice unnecessary.

How Wide Should My Stair Runner Be?

Most of our stair runners come in multiple widths so you can choose which suits you best. There is no convention regarding how wide you runner should be, relative to the width of your stairs, and this is purely a matter of personal taste.

You might, however, want to consider that a very narrow stair runner, on a particularly wide staircase, may give the visual effect of walk a tightrope as you climb or descend the stairs. And a very wide runner, on a particularly narrow staircase, might not leave enough room to fit stair rods with hinged runner brackets (see How To Fit Stair Rods). Otherwise, it's up to you.