How to Redo Basement Stairs on a Budget with Indoor Outdoor Stair Runners

LAST UPDATED: May 17, 2021 | PUBLISHED: Jul 18, 2016 | By:

Get all the details to makeover stairs with cost efficient, easy to clean stair runners! You’ll find pretty and practical basement paint stairs ideas here – it’s the ultimate DIY staircase makeover. Use an indoor / outdoor striped stair carpet for a look you’re going to love.

Budget… yes, I said it. I don’t like that word, but sometimes, you just have to make compromises when you’re renovating your home, or at least what you would think will be a compromise.

As it turns out, the inexpensive solution for making over your old staircase may fit in your budget and your design dreams, too!

neutral room with stairs covered with stripe stair runner

This post was originally published July 18, 2016 and updated with fresh photos and content May 17, 2021.

I’ve brought you some posts about rug shopping in the past. It can be complicated, right? Finding the right size, affordability, durability and so much more…but don’t stress!

I’ve done the legwork for you and now you’ll have a world of info at your fingertips! This is an easy tutorial for a new indoor/outdoor stair runner with one of the best painted stair ideas!

DIY Staircase Makeover

When we first moved into our St. Louis home (see the full before and after here) we wanted to freshen up the basement right away so we had a space for our little girls to play.

basement stairs on a budget - brilliant way to save money

We immediately added new LVP flooring and painted the space in Farrow and Ball Clunch. Next up: the basement stairs! Because they were clearly cobbled together with a variety of woods, we knew right away that we would paint them.

Side note: as you can see in this post, we have since replaced the flooring and the wall color (It’s now Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee) after our basement flooded. Luckily, we didn’t have to touch the stairs and the striped runner remains!

Once we put a coat of paint on the stairs, we decided that investing in a new indoor/outdoor stair runner would be the best DIY stair makeover! The striped stair carpet look is one of my favorites, and this was such an inexpensive, easy way to accomplish the look.

I’ve always known how I wanted to do the basement stairs, but there were a few naysayers, including Chris and Nick, our flooring guy. I didn’t let that stop me.

how to update stairs on a budget that will also be durable and easy to clean

Painted Stairs Ideas

Most treads and risers {the steps themselves and the board that connects them} are never intended to see the light of day.

Builders use leftover materials, broken or ill fitted boards and as we learned the hard way {from our second level stairs}, even different species of wood. Still, I was determined.

dash-and-albert-runner
basement-before
basement before

I don’t have a “before” image of the stairs (sometimes I get a little too anxious), but this is just to the left of them and are the same cedar walls and worn carpet that surrounded the stairs.

You can see the difference a little paint and a couple striped stair runners can make!

save money redoing stairs with a stair runner

Basement Stair Ideas: Paint and Stair Runners

Redoing basement stairs isn’t difficult or time consuming!

We want the basement to be a comfortable place where the girls and their friends can play and create without fear and burn off some energy on rainy days. With that in mind, I was excited to fall in love with this stair runner that is so much more durable than carpeting because it’s a soft, indoor/outdoor rug! Whew!

Bonus? The project cost less than $300 to do, which is less than we paid for those four stairs of basic hardware store carpet in our sunroom. Seriously.

how to update stairs on a budget that will also be durable and easy to clean

For the full step by step tutorial, see instructions at bottom of this post.

How to Install Stair Runners

  1. We started by removing the old, dingy carpet and the ridiculous amount of staples that accumulated through the years as carpet had been replaced.
  2. I centered the runner to gage just how much area needed to have nails filled, caulked and painted. Why work any harder than you have to?
  3. Fill in holes and paint the stairs. Use my favorite tips for Painting Trim to get a clean, solid finish.
  4. Cut a strip of double-sided tape slightly shorter than the width of the rug and press the tape along the top edge of the riser.
  5. Line up the runner rug with the tape and press firmly. Carpet tacks should be used next hold the rug in place. 
  6. Smooth the rug against the stair. Use nails to attach runner according to specific step by step installation details below. 
  7. Repeat the process until you reach the last tread you can cover. 
how to update stairs on a budget that will also be durable and easy to clean

Stair Runner Project Tips

  • It took 3 2’6″ x 8 runners to cover our stairs, but I was also able to use the remnant as a kitchen rug in our lake cottage! I measured a tread and riser, added the number together and multiplied the number of stairs to determine how many we needed.

If you want to DIY this project, scroll down to my DIY card. It took our guys a half hour to do, but they didn’t staple under each individual stair, just at the base of each stair.

  • Be sure to add 6 inches to account for waste in this project!
  • Don’t bother painting the center of your stairs that will be covered by the runner! Why waist paint or time?
basement stairs on a budget - brilliant way to save money

Click here to see our basement playroom and flooring. Now I have to talk myself out of doing it at the lake cottage.

The Best Stair Runners

I have rounded up all of my favorite Dash & Albert Indoor Outdoor stair runners (they’re the easiest to clean) and two marled runners that hide the dirt.

collage of stair runners with text overlay

thin stripe |herringbone | tidal | thick stripe

rope | diamond | beach weave

pebble

and of course you know I love mine!

how to update your basement stairs on a budget
beautiful basement stairs on a budget

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it hard to install a stair runner?

No, it’s extremely simple if you purchase a ready made stair runner. It’s more challenging to use carpet not designed to be a runner and tuck the edges.

Do stair runners need an underlay?

You can extend the life of a plush stair runner by using an underlay. They are not required, but add comfort when using an indoor outdoor rug or woven runner.

Are stair runners more or less expensive than carpet?

Stair runners are typically less expensive and labor intensive than running carpet across the entire width of the step.

stair runner on basement stairs

Join the club! You can find daily updates on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and see my latest YouTube videos here!

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how to update your basement stairs on a budget
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How to Redo Basement Stairs

All the details to makeover stairs with cost efficient, easy to clean stair runners! Pretty and practical basement stair ideas.
Course DIY
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 1

Equipment

  • Scissors
  • Hammer
  • Double sided tape

Ingredients

  • 13mm Stair Nails Any color.
  • 1 Stair Runner

Instructions

Take off old carpet if needed and clean steps

    Take Measurements of the Stairs

    • Select one stair tread and measure its depth and the step height. Multiply the height by the number of step and the depth by the number of treads. Add the two figures together then add 6 inches to account for waste. This is the total length of runner you will need. If you need more than one runner, add an additional 12 inches to the total to account for the seams where the carpets will join.

    Install Carpet Runner

    • Cut a strip of double-sided tape slightly shorter than the width of the rug and press the tape along the top edge of the riser of the first tread, placing it just under the nose. 
    • Line up the top edge of the runner rug with the tape and press firmly. Use the carpet tacks to hold the rug in place, starting in the center and then at every three inches on either side. Be sure there is a nail in each of the outer edges. 
    • Smooth the rug against the stair. Nail the rug to the bottom of the stair in the center of the rug and then at every three inches on either side. 
    • Repeat the process of nailing the runner to the base of the riser as above, then continue over successive treads until you reach the last tread you can cover. 

    If need a second runner

    • If you are adding a second runner, after you have stapled to the bottom of the last finished riser, trim the trailing edge of the first runner, leaving a 2-inch piece free to overlap. 
    • Overlap with the second runner, carefully aligning the sides of the two runners and pressing the finished edge against the riser. 
    • Staple into the second runner as above, then continue the installation process as described above for the remaining treads to be covered

    Finish the step

    • Fold the end of the runner under and press it tightly against the final riser to create a hem. Nail into place against the riser. If the final riser ends in a moulding, fold and staple the hem so that it sits above that piece.
    Disclosure