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Oriental Rugs - A buyer’s Guide

Guide to select the right rug size for your room.

Runner Size for the Stairs

A runner is considered to be a rug in any size in 2.5 feet wide from 4 feet to 20 feet (or longer). It is not uncommon that most runners measure 32 to 33 inches wide. Sometimes, it is possible, if necessary, to use several matching, or identical, oriental rug runners; in order to cover the stairs. This is option is the best when more than 20 feet of runner is required, or for an angular and a circular shape stairs.

  • What size runner for the stairs?

    Stairs consist of Treads and Risers. Almost always, stairways are laid out so that risers are of equal (or  very nearly equal) height.  A difference of 1 inch in height of a riser in the middle of a stairway is huge; you would nearly stumble on this step going up or down stairs.  In contrast, a difference of 1, 2, or 3 inches in the depth of a tread somewhere in stairway is almost unnoticeable. Treads can be several different depths in the same stairway. It is not uncommon for there to be one or two wider, deeper treads at the bottom of the stairway.
    Quite often a tread and riser combination will work out to be very close to 18 inches total (10 inches for the tread and 8 inches for the riser). Thus a stairway with 12 tread and riser combinations would need 12 combination times 18 inches, plus an allowance for how you will start/end the rug.  12x18=216 inches or 18 feet long. But remember that threads can vary in depth! Thus, to accurately estimate the length of a runner needed to cover the stairs you need to measure
    1) the depth of each tread (in case they vary), and
    2) The height of risers.
    Be sure to measure the risers on the diagonal from the “nose” or lip of the one tread to the point below where the bottom of the riser and the next tread meet.  This is because, when installed, the runner will flow from the nose of one tread to the corner formed by the riser and tread below.  The runner does not tucked under the nose tight to the riser.
    To the rough estimate of length you have already made you need to add (or may be subtract) some adjusting amount depending upon where you begin and /or end the runner on the stairs.  You can begin/end the runner in several different ways:

  • Figure 1:
    The rug begins on the landing at the top of the stairs and continues onto the floor at the bottom of the stairs. There are two treads (we do not count the landing at the top as a tread) and three risers.  You must ass the amount the rug extends on the top landing and on the floor at the foot of the stairs to the total for  treads and risers covered.  Assuming 10 inches treads, 8 inches risers, and 12  inches of runner on the op landing and on the floor at the foot of the stairs, this arrangement need a runner that measures 68 inches, not counting the fringe. Below, we will show how we measured 68 inches of runner needed for this option:
    A) 2 combination of treads and risers is: 2 x 18(10+8) = 36 Inches
    B) 1 last riser is: 8 inches
    C) 2 spaces for the top and floor landing is: 2 x 12 = 24 Inches
    D) the result is: 36 + 8 + 24 = 68 inches or 5.67 feet or 5 feet 8 inches
    Note:  there is a safety issue with this arrangement.  You should have enough runner extending onto the top landing to make the landing safe.  6 - 8 inches of runner on the top landing is not nearly enough; this is a foot catcher and an accident waiting to happen.
  • Figure 2:
    The rug begins just under the “nose” or overhang of the landing, and ends at the bottom of the bottom riser.  The original fringe is left on the rug, Not cut off! The fringe is tucked behind the rug at both the top and bottom.  This is probably the most common runner arrangement.  In this case the runner needs to cover two treads and three risers. This runner needs to measure about 44 inches ( 36 + 8 = 44).
  • Figure 3:
    In this arrangement the runner begins as in figure 2, but ends on the bottom tread.  The fringe hangs down from the nose of the bottom tread. This option is the least common and arrangement.  The runner covers two treads and two risers.  It needs to be about 36 inches long.

Of course, other arrangements are possible.  All depends on the architectural design of your stair way in your house.

Usually you will measure the stairs and think about how you might want to begin and end the runner.  These cogitation will give you a runner size to go looking for. Unfortunately, because oriental rugs are all hand made and not cut to length, you probably will not find a runner that really like in precisely the size you need. All is not lost!  Find a runner you like that is as close as possible to the theoretical size you need. Now, adjust the installation of the rug to take up extra length if the rug is too long, or to cover fewer risers.  It is easy! Note:  it is not so easy to adapt an oriental runner to fit on circular stairs or stairways with curved section and pie shaped treads.  You have to hire an expert oriental rug installer for them and have one professional installer to measure the stairways for accuracy.  As mentioned before, you may need several identical rugs to cover the stairs.

  • Medallion designs on the stairs.
    People are sometimes worried about using runners with repeated medallion designs on the stairs because almost never will the medallions fall regularly on the treads.  This is a bigger problem in theory than in practice.  It does not look odd to have the first medallion fall on a tread, the nest between a tread and riser, and so on. You still will see and appreciate the intention of the design whether climbing or descending the stairs. Loosen up! Let go go of some of those neatness compulsions!  Note: However, a medallion design runner is not practical for circular or angular shape stairs.  Because, part of the medallion design will be lost due to the turns. The runner with smaller repeating motifs much preferred.
  • Practical designs and colors for stairs.
    Stair runners usually get heavy traffic, and once installed, it can be many years before a runner is removed for complete cleaning.  The most camouflaging design is the darkest and busiest pattern you can find. Try the penny test: close your eyes and drop a penny on the rug.  If it takes a second or two to find it, then the rug is perfect!  Its design and color combination will hide years and years of traffic.

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