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We have discussed curving staircases in the past (“Runners on a Curving Staircase,” 7-04, “Installing a Bordered Runner on a Curving Staircase,” 8-04). In those articles I described the technique of making a template of the stairs, centering the pattern, cutting, and installing the stairs individually.

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Last year at the CFI Convention, I was talking to a friend, Roland Thompson, CFI Master II installer and trainer from Maryland. He shared with me a technique he developed for installing runners on curving staircase that was faster and easier. Faster and easier; I was interested.

On this staircase the runners were cut from a woven broadloom. The first order of business was to cut the runner with the pattern centered. (Photo 1)

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Next was to install Instabind Rope from Bond Industries, as an alternative to binding. The customer was thrilled with the rich custom look of the rope edging. (Photo 2) Go to for the full, easy installation instructions.

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Roland’s technique requires starting from the top and working your way down. I know I can hear some of you saying, “But, I work from the bottom up!” Quit whining; try something new that can make you a lot of money. How much to charge? Well, seeing that many of you have told people bordered runners can’t be done on a curving staircase, price it somewhere in the $40 to $50 per stair range. Do the math: 12 to 15 stairs on the average curving staircase. Not bad for a half a day’s work.  

In these pictured installations the stairs are installed in the “contoured” style vs. the “waterfall” style, although the installation method works as well in either style. (Photo 3)

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After the straight stairs are installed and you start on the curved stairs the runner will tend to run at an angle toward the wall of the stair below. Here’s where Roland’s solution comes into play. Starting from about an inch from the wall side edge of the carpet, cut the carpet at the juncture of the tread and riser. (Photos 4 and 5) This will allow you to pivot the runner, straightening the runner to flow straight for the next step. (Photo 6)

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To keep my runners straight and properly spaced from the wall, I cut a cardboard spacer, in this case 4 ½ inches. (Photo 7) Notice I cut back the corners to accommodate the curve of the wall. I also used the same spacer an inch wider (5 ½ inches) to properly space my tackless, then cut it to 4 ½ inches for the carpet.

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What about the stretch, you ask? A couple of ways to skin that cat; use a stair stretcher designed to stretch from the top down (Photos 8 and 8a), or rub the carpet on the step secure the next step down, then stretch the stair with a kicker as you normally would.

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Once all the stairs are installed, the next step is to simply trim and tuck at the tread and riser as normal (Photo 9)

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The last photo shows a finished curving staircase, with border, using Roland’s technique. (Photo 10) 

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Stay tuned next month for an update on the establishment of ANSI standards for carpet installation.