Top 10 Stair Runner Styles

From solid sisals and stripes to several scales of geometrics, we dissect popular carpet styles for runners.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Sisal Flooring

Previously covered in dated, contractor-grade carpet, this stairway was transformed with a custom runner made from patterned sisal lined with a 2-inch canvas border. The homeowner is a single man with no kids or pets. Since there were no claws or paws to snag the fibers, sisal was the perfect fit.

Tone-on-Tone Pattern

Solid sisal is often a go-to for wall-to-wall installation in casual homes, since covering a large room with a patterned carpet can read as visually overwhelming. Patterned sisal is ideal for a narrow space such as a stairway, since most options are about 36 inches wide. A tone-on-tone pattern offers a subtle effect that works with many color schemes and a variety of decor.

Natural Weave

Solid woven sisal adds texture to a space while creating traction underfoot. The tiny fibers of woven sisal slowly fray over time, leading to a worn-in, natural look. Because of fraying, sisal is not a good choice for homes with small children or pets. Consider installing it in low-traffic areas.

Multicolored Stripes

Since patterns can fall in and out of fashion, opt for motifs that stand the test of time. When selecting a multicolored stripe, choose versions that fit within the width of each step; otherwise, the effect will appear fractured.

Textural Stripes

While a multicolored stripe can add graphic contrast to a stairway, the decorative value of a textural stripe relies largely on its woven construction. Commonly rendered in tone-on-tone or neutral colors, textural stripes are good for homeowners concerned with resale value. When choosing a textural stripe sisal, keep in mind that darker fibers tend to fray more than lighter, neutral fibers. To minimize visible wear and tear, choose patterns with smaller dark-colored stripes.

Flame-Stitch Flair

Flame-stitch sisal coordinates with most interior styles, whether the home is traditional, transitional or modern. Known for its zigzag, retro appearance, this popular motif is available in solid, tone-on-tone and multicolored options.

Classic Checkerboard

Checkerboard sisal is a classic style produced in tone-on-tone, two-tone and tricolor versions. Depending on the scale of the pattern, this carpet can take on high-energy or subtle characteristics. Small, tight weaves of checkerboard sisal present more contrast when viewed from afar, whereas larger checkerboard weaves create a dynamic effect.

Small Geometric Design

Homeowners interested in introducing pattern, yet concerned about it overpowering their room, should choose a small-scale geometric. In lieu of larger-scale repeats, this style reads accurately with simple installation along stairwell treads and risers.

Large-Scale Pattern

Large-scale geometric stairwell runners are excellent for modern or transitional homes. Their high-impact appearance can turn a bland stairway into a focal point; however, those using a large-scale geometric motif should avoid fracturing the pattern during installation. Have an installation professional align the repeat along the middle of the stairwell, carefully cutting both ends to ensure that the most interesting part of the pattern is centered on the stairwell treads and risers.

Medium Motif

Medium-scale geometrics are ideal for homeowners wishing to add pattern to their stairs in an understated way. This motif is easy to discern regardless of the viewer's distance from it, and the smaller pattern is easier to install than its larger-scale counterparts, allowing the repeat to remain unbroken and intact.