Custom Carpeted Staircases: 7 Tips for Top Quality Installations

There are a few factors that need to be considered prior to any carpet installation on stairs. Now add the complexity of a custom designed & fabricated installation & you have an even bigger challenge. Are you up for it?

Follow these tips for a smooth & fearless custom carpeted staircase installation. First a hypothetical.

I’m going to predict that you have successfully designed & bid the project. Your client loved your design & can’t wait to have it installed. You’re also getting paid very well for this installation because you’re one of the few highly trained rug fabricators in your area. Your client expects to pay for your expertise & you’ll probably earn every penny!

Tip #1. Team up with a qualified carpet installer. Nearly all staircase projects will be brokered through a carpet dealer. There will likely be a full carpet install & the staircase is just a part of the whole project. Sit down with the carpet dealer & installer & iron out the strategy for the install.

A) What type of staircase is this? Box stairs, side wrap, spiral, bullnose or is it a custom staircase?

B) Depending on the type of staircase & the design you’ve created, You may have a simple ‘waterfall’ installation where you are installing 3-5 or more steps in 1 piece. This only works if the design is simple & straight forward – like a border design – or a stair runner install.

C) When installing a custom staircase, a spiral staircase, or your design needs precision placement – lets say you have a rose on each side that falls exactly on the tread/step. You’ll then need to install each step seperately.

Tip #2. Make an exact template of each step. Ideally you would use the exisiting stair carpet & trace directly onto the new piece of carpet – remember to have face fibers down – working from the back. Of course this implies that your client has approved of your strategy and has allowed you to ‘borrow’ their existing staircase carpet.

The other method is to use heavy brown paper. You can buy a roll from your local home improvement store – you’ll find it in the paint section. You can then create stair templates using the paper and a roll of tape to piece sections together.

Either method you choose, you’ll need to MARK EACH STEP – first step is #1, next step is #2 & so on.

Tip #3. Prefabricate the whole staircase prior to installation, most improtantly any & all carving & beveling. You won’t have any fun trying to bevel your design after the carpet is installed, in fact, it’s darn near impossible.

Tip #4. Give yourself an extra 1 inch of carpet all around the perimeter of each side. This will give you a little breathing room in lining up your step during the install. This excess carpet will be trimmed off during the installation.

Tip #5. Be there for the install. Be prepared for any last minute additions or adjustments. Have extra carpet on hand. Have all of your tools available.

Tip #6. Avoid design elements on the pivot point of the tread & riser. Horizontal seams can open & ‘grin’ – it’s not very attractive. Center your designs on the tread & on the riser. Random designs are fine too, just be aware of where they land during the install.

Tip #7 Use double-wide tackless strip on the treads. This can help anchor down the carpet if you have a stubborn piece to work with.

Yes, some staircase projects are easier to install than others. Ultimately you are in the drivers seat during the design phase. If you’re thinking ahead during the design phase & you have a strategy in place, then you can avoid unnecessary surprises.

Let’s recap: Plan your design with ease of installation in mind. Avoid any horizontal seams on the tread and riser pivot points. Create templates for each step and number sequentially. Prefabricate your stairs prior to install, do as much work off site as you can. Work with the best installation crew that you can. Be prepared for any last minute adjustments during the install.

In the end, if you’ve focused on creating a quality product, you’re client will, no doubt, be amazed and impressed with their new custom carpeted staircase.