How to Carpet Basement Stairs

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Carpeting your basement stairs can help to make them appear clean and improve safety.
Carpeting your basement stairs can help to make them appear clean and improve safety. (Image: feet and carpet image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com)

If you are finishing a basement or wanting to make the basement stairs more attractive, adding carpet can be done without the use of a professional. Though carpeting stairs requires a bit more attention to detail than carpeting a flat surface, careful placement and measurement can yield professional-looking results and help to save money on home improvement. A knee-kicker helps to straighten the carpet and attach it to the tack strips that hold it in place, and can be purchased or rented for your carpet installation project.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Notebook
  • Carpet
  • Knee kicker
  • Putty knife
  • Carpet knife

Measure the width thread and the part of the stairs that you step. Measure once if all stairs are the same width, or measure each section or step if the stairs are tapered or widen at the bottom. Write down your width calculations for the carpet width.

Measure the height of the riser and depth of the thread for one step. Take measurements of several steps if they steps vary in depth or height.

Multiply the height and depth by the number of stairs being covered, and add three inches. Cut a piece of carpet that measures the length and width required.

Nail a tack strip along each step's thread and riser along the wall or edge of the step. Lay the carpet on the stairs and tack the carpet two to three inches from the edge of the top step.

Pull the carpet down to cover the riser of the first step, smoothing wrinkles and pulling it taut over the edge where the thread and riser meet.

Attach the carpet to the tack strips on either side of the step with a knee kicker by holding the carpet in place and slamming your knee into the knee kicker. Smooth the carpet into the crease where the riser and thread meet with your hands, then anchor it in place with a single tack into the middle of the joint with the knee kicker.

Lay out the carpet to cover the thread of the step, then tack it using the knee kicker. Repeat steps five through eight the entire staircase is covered. Cut away excess carpet at the bottom of the stairs by using a carpet knife.

Tuck the edges of the carpet between the tack strip and baseboard along each step using a putty knife.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some staircases do not have a riser. To measure carpet for these stairs, simply measure the depth of the thread of one step and multiply it by the number of stairs. Attach the carpeting by using nails or carpet tacks to tack the carpet under the edge of each side of the step. Drive in tacks with a hammer.
  • Be sure to straighten the carpet and check to ensure that the carpet is laying evenly with each step to avoid crooked installment.

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