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A Step-by-Step Guide To Fitting Carpet Underlay On Your Stairs Blog Featured Image

A Step-by-Step Guide To Fitting Carpet Underlay On Your Stairs

During the pandemic, a record amount was spent on improving homes across the country. 

People turned to traditional comforts, and much of that involved interior DIY projects. But when it comes to one of the biggest tasks, fitting a carpet, do you know how to get it right from the start?

Part of that is getting the base correct, and this layer is known as the underlay. Read on as we give a step-by-step guide on how to fit carpet underlay with or without a runner.


Luckily, tools for fitting underlay are commonly found around the home. The biggest choice you will have to make is deciding on the type and brand of underlay you want to purchase.

Benefits of Carpet Underlay

Underlay is a cushioned material which is laid under the floorcovering, be it carpet or laminate, for the purposes of protection, sound reduction, density and underfoot comfort. Without it, the covering will have no cushioning. It would be hard to walk on, as it would simply lay on top of the hardwood or concrete floor underneath.

Underlay also counteracts some of the other elements of having exposed flooring. It provides insulation, warming the house with a layer of trapped air between the floor and carpet. Sound can also be dampened, eliminating the echo you often get in an empty room.

In addition, it adds durability. Your floor covering is not rubbing on the hard ground and lasts longer. An underlay is also lightweight and easy to lay.

Why Add Underlay to Stairs?

Underlay takes up a lot of the wear and tear from footfall. Your stairs are one of the areas where this takes the most damage. As such, carpet on stairs without underlay will quickly become thin and deteriorate.

However, it is not always possible to get the thickest underlay money can buy. The intricate nature of a staircase and its turns means a balance has to be reached. This is between the depth and the practical nature of fitting thicker foams.

  • Step One

Step one involves cutting the gripper to size. This will be different depending on if your carpet will go the full length of the stairs or be a central runner. For the first method, simply measure the width of your stair to find how long a runner needs to be, putting together two if necessary.

With the runner option, measuring becomes a little more complicated. Start by finding the exact middle point of the stair. You don’t want your runner to be misaligned or wonky.

Now measure the width of your runner. Take off two centimetres and you have the width of the carpet grippers you need. Taking one centimetre from either end ensures the rod does not protrude and possibly injure someone.

  • Step Two

The second step is a short check to see if you have the right size gripper rod. Place it over the runner and centralize it, checking it is one centimetre smaller on either side. If you are not using a runner, skip this step.

At this point, you should also take some time to prepare the stair themselves. While this may take a little extra time, particularly on a large staircase, it will make the whole job a lot easier and more professional.

If any nails or staples are in the staircase from previous installations, make sure to remove them. You should then check for any splinters or burrs and give them light sand. Sweep away dust and dirt, and then give the area a vacuum.

  • Step Three

The next step is to attach the gripper rod to the stair itself. Place it with the middle on the centre marking, with the spikes facing outwards toward the vertical part of the step. You should not place the gripper flush with the vertical stair but leave a small gap.

You may want to use gloves for this, as it is very easy to prick yourself on the spikes. When you have it in place, then hammer the nails into the gripper securing it.

  • Step Four

After this, you will need to place the second gripper. This will face outward onto the stair itself. Hammer the second gripper onto the stair below so it is firmly secure.

  • Step Five

This is the point at which you are most likely to prick your fingers, so be very careful. You now need to measure the distance between the two rods on the staircase. Using your tape measure, get an accurate measurement of the distance between the gripper on the horizontal and vertical parts of the step.

  • Step Six

You now have the perfect measurement. Mark the underlay so it is the right distance between the two grippers. Follow it up by marking the width of the grippers on the underlay itself, and cut out the appropriate sizes.

  • Step Seven

You can now place the underlay on the staircase. Start at the higher carpet gripper that lays horizontal. Place the underlay flush with it, making sure the rubber or foam side is face down.

Staple the material into place. You can then pull the remaining underlay down over the step. Fix it to the gripper rod that is facing outward on the vertical step.

  • Step Eight

You then need to carry on with this at every step. It helps to start at the top of the staircase and move downward, as it reduces the chance of injury. Once complete, you can add your carpet or stair runner as you see fit.

Choosing Carpet Underlay

Now you know how to do this, but the big decision is choosing the right carpet underlay and the carpet itself. There are a number of different brands, qualities, and thicknesses available for all budgets. Make sure you speak to an expert to select the right one.

Your first stop for advice should be Buy Flooring Online. We have everything you could need for new flooring, from underlay to grippers and carpets. Contact us to discuss your needs and let us recommend some of our top-class products for your home.