There are basically two methods of installing carpet on stairs. One is the waterfall method where one piece of carpet covers each riser and tread. The other is the cap and band installation. In this case the cap is a piece of carpet installed over the treads and the band is the piece that will cover the risers. In this article I will show you how to install carpet using the waterfall method. These instructions are for basic stairs and not for spiral stairs which would require additional procedures.
Staples or upholstery nails
Knee kicker (check your rental store)
Stair Tool (check your rental store)
Obviously you’ll need to remove all the old carpet. Get rid of the tack strips and don’t try to use the old padding. Make sure any nails and staples are removed and sweep down the area to be carpeted.
Before you get started you’re going to have to figure out how much carpet you’ll need. To calculate the width simply measure across the tread. If your stairs are open on one or both ends make sure to measure under the nosing to where it meets the riser and add it to the total width. Figure the total length of your flight of stairs by measuring the tread and riser. Assuming your going to use carpet pad make sure to add at least 3 inches per stair. If your steps have nosing add one foot to the total flight measurement.
Okay, let’s get started. Apply the tack strip to the stair crotch location. Next you’ll need to tighten the carpet by tucking in the crotch. You can do this by using a knee kicker. It is a tool used to install carpet in small areas and stairs. It consists of a piece of metal tubing with a pin plate attached to it. On the other end it has a padded cushion where you can position your knee to apply pressure to the carpet. You should be able to find one at your local rental store. Simply place the padded end several inches above your knee and add pressure.
This is where you will use the knee kicker:
To attach to the tack strip you need to use the knee kicker to stretch the carpet straight from the center of the tread and hook it to the tack strip located at the crotch. Once the carpet has been hooked to the tack strip you need to firmly attach it by sliding your carpet tool back and forth to compress the pins. Using your utility knife or carpet knife trim as needed. A carpet knife is better as it has two sides and is sharper than a utility knife. Repeat this process on each side of the tread. Before going to the next tread make sure the carpet is smoothed out on the riser and then staple to the stair lip. I would recommend you staple about every 2 inches. Don’t forget to also staple along the edge of the riser.
Make sure to step back and take a look at your work before going on to the next tread. Is the carpet smooth? Did you kick it in evenly? It is also a good time to give your knees and back a rest. If everything looks good the continue onto the next tread. If not you’ll have to pull the carpet off and install it again. Repeat this process until you are finished.
Once finished stand back and admire your work and give yourself a pat on the back. You now have a beautiful looking staircase.