Things You\’ll Need

  • Carpet

  • Carpet-cutting knife (not an all-purpose utility knife)

  • Measuring tape

  • Yardstick or metal straightedge

  • Marker or chalk

  • Tackless carpet strips

  • Hammer

  • Small saw

  • Small box of carpet tacks

High angle view of staircase in house Cap-and-band installation is suited to fitting carpet to winding stairs. Image Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

Carpeting stairs makes sense for several reasons: lessening interior noise, preserving wood finish and reducing the dangers of falling are all good arguments for carpeting stairs. Straight staircases welcome "waterfall" carpeting; a single continuous length of carpet flowing from one step to the next. Winding staircases present more challenges and are best covered using the "cap-and-band" method, in which pieces of carpet are cut for each tread and riser, accommodating turns and angles and providing durable, fitted covering.

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Step 1

Beginning at the top of the stairs, measure a stair tread or landing and transfer the measurement to the back of a piece of carpet with marker or chalk. Measure so that the carpet will be flush to the wall and curve completely over the tread. Cut carpet using a carpet knife, not an all-purpose utility knife, and a metal straightedge for the best results.

Step 2

Measure, cut and secure tackless carpet strips to the back, sides and front of the tread with a hammer. Attach the carpet to the tackless strips.

Step 3

Measure and cut the piece needed for the riser below the carpeted tread. Some do-it-yourselfers prefer to carpet all the treads, then all the risers. If your carpet has some bulk to it, this system will work better than proceeding tread-riser-tread-riser.

Step 4

Measure, cut and secure tackless carpet strips to hold the band piece to the stair riser. Go on to the next tread or riser.


Allow an extra yard of carpet for beginner's luck when you're purchasing. When you are marking measurements of an irregular shape on the backing of carpet, it's easy to get turned around. Knowing you have room for error will help you work more confidently. Make a mat out of your leftover at the end of the job.

"Tackless" carpet strips actually have small tacks in them, a few to secure the strip to the stair and a larger number to secure the carpeting. They are called "tackless" because they let you install carpet without attaching it directly to the stairs with visible tacks.


Avoid intricate patterns or borders when choosing carpet for cap-and-band installation. Matching pieces of pattern and edgings can become a considerable chore. Avoid deep-pile or shag carpets as well; they make home installation a wrestling match; incorrectly installed, they can increase the danger of falling on the stairs.


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