A Carpet Installer's Notebook: A Couple of Staircase Runner Tricks
July 18, 2005
The staircase was pretty easy; straight stairs from the basement to a landing, then a flight to the first floor. We cut the landing in a U shape, as you can see in Photo 14. The runners were just straight cuts.
Stair runners are not particularly difficult in and of themselves. This one, while simple enough, had one small glitch. The customer wanted the edges serged not bound. Not having a binding machine let alone a serging machine, this could have been a problem except for a product you have seen advertised in this magazine called Instabind; more on that later.
These stairs were being installed waterfall with tackless on the treads and risers. I guess I am lazy and I've taught Jon to be lazy too. This work is hard enough without making it any harder, so we try to find an easier way to do things. Jon is cutting all of the strip for the stairs at once. We always use full pieces for the riser and use the pieces for the treads. He's measured the size needed off the garage wall and in this picture is adding to the balance from the riser. (Photo 1) With the cost of tackstrip these days, you don't want to waste any.
The finished runner in this case is to leave a 4-inch wood border on each side. We like to leave our strip and pad 1 1/2 inches short of the finished runner on each side. Jon is cutting a 5 1/2-inch spacer for installing the strip. (Photos 2 and 3)
For the space of the riser strip from the tread we use two pieces of strip turned pin side together and tapped down flat with a hammer. This gives us a 1/2-inch spacer. This is constant on all our stairs. We will adjust the tread piece of strip for the thickness of the carpet. (Photo 4)
Jon is installing the strip using the cardboard spacer for the wall space and the resting the riser strip on the doubled strip. (Photo 5) Why yes, he is using a compressor and a stapler shooting 1-inch staples. Remember when I said I was lazy? This is so easy and fast. As for reinforcing strip in rooms, shop around; getting set up with a compressor and gun is not as expensive as you might think.
We always pop off the 1/4 round on the bottom stair. (Photo 6) Then we cut it to fit wall to carpet after we are done (sorry no picture).
Now for the Instabind Serging; this stuff is so easy. Peel back the paper on the flap, exposing the sticky tape on the flap. (Photo 7) This secures it in place adhered to the back of the carpet. Now run a bead of hot glue on the edge of the carpet.
. (Photo 8) This both seals the carpet edge and locks the Instabind on to the carpet edge. I like to use the edge of my tray to hold the Instabind in place for a couple of seconds while the glue grabs. (Photo 9) While the tray holds it in place, I glue the next couple of feet then move the tray forward.
When you get to a corner just cut the flap, bend it around and what a nice corner! (Photos 10, 11, and 12) Inside corners? No problem, it's just like outside corners; just cut the flap, bend the Instabind and keep on going. (Photos 13 and 14)
At the top of the stairs was a tile floor. I don't know what happened; maybe the builder blew it, because the tile was 1/4 inch higher than the stair nose.
Too low for a turn and tack, it would have caused a tripping hazard. So we finished it off with Instabind. (Photo 15) Brilliant!
Not only is it quick and easy, but you get to charge for binding!
They would have had to pay for the serging anyway, if they could have found some one who could do it. Hey, better that money in your pocket than someone else's.