How to get your staircase preparation right

How to get your staircase preparation right first time.

Whether you do it yourself or pay someone else. Here’s how to save time, money and be kind to your environment! Look out for this article’s useful Eco tips which are highlighted in green.


Preparing the stairs for your stair runner

Five step plan

1.Remove the old carpet

2.Remove the old gripper and underlay and set aside for reuse

3.Clean the stairs ready for painting or varnishing

4.Choose your paint or varnish

5.Paint or varnish. Allow at least three days to Dry before fitting your new stairrunner

Step 1. Removing the old carpet


uplift old carpet

Before starting this job, put on a pair of decent gloves, because gripper has sharp pins and even carpet backing can be abrasive. A paper mask ( sorry to mention masks) is advisable as dust and dust might liver in the base of traditional carpets which are potentially irritants and allergy triggers. 

Top tip!

Start at the bottom of the stairs. Why? Because gripper pins slope inwards, so carpet fitted on griper rod releases more easily from the bottom up. Starting with the bottom step, release the carpet by pulling upwards. It should just ease off, revealing the gripper and underlay underneath. Eco tip -Some people Re-use the uplifted stair carpet to line sheds and cupboards. Reusing is even more Eco friendly than recycling 


Step 2.Remove old gripper and

 underlay and set aside for re-use


Full width gripper & underlay

Full width gripper and underlay needs removing as part of your staircase preparation

Often you can reuse your existing gripper and underlay. Helping your budget and the environment, as usual economy and Eco friendly go hand in hand . If you are in any doubt , don’t hesitate to email us a pic and we will make a free quality assessment of your underlay . Email:


How to release gripper rod

This is how gripper & underlay is removed

Gripper rod is removed by tapping it with a hammer and bolster at the point the nail meets the stairs. The diagram (right) shows exactly where to tap.

Underlay is removed by carefully pealing it off. You win If it can be kept in one piece but if it tears, it can still be used.

Once the gripper and underlay is removed

To prepare your gripper and underlay for reuse ; cut to 10 cm less than your stair runner width .

Example : If your star runner is 65 cm wide cut underlay and gripper to 55 cm wide.

Cut underlay with a Stanley knife. Cut gripper with snips


Stanley knife and snips

Replacing gripper or underlay

If your underlay or gripper is worn you should replace it

To order from us, proceed to our shop page or email us your order.

The price of our Eco-friendly underlay and gripper pack is £49. Delivery is free with your stair runner.

Step 3.Clean the stairs ready for painting or varnishing


cleaning tools for staircase preparation

a. Brush then vacuum thoroughly to asses the surface

b. Remove tacks or staples with claw hammer or pliers

c. Sand with an 80 grade sandpaper ,then a finer sandpaper.

d. Clean again with a damp cloth and detergent liquid . Rinse with clean water . Towel Dry then  dry naturally overnight.

Step 4. Choosing your finish

There are three types of decoration finish to choose from for your stairs

a. Exposed wood

b .Paint, usually monochrome (black white or grey)

C. A mixture of the two

Eco-tip. If you want to go Eco friendly and avoid nasty fumes, this paint company offer VOC free, odorless, non toxic, organic natural paints, which are a breath of fresh air. 

Step 5. Painting your stairs

On a straight run of stairs, mark with light pencil marks where you expect your stairrunner to sit. 

On bare wood stairs, start with a coat of primer, if painted stairs, skip this step.

To save paint, time and the environment, don’t paint areas you expect to cover with the stairrunner, but don’t cut it too fine either. We recommend painting 5cm over your pencil marks, to be safe. Top tip, if you have winding stairs, totally paint those, as the stairrunner position is harder to guess on winders, so it’s quicker to just paint them entirely.

Use a decent brush and work paint into the corners. 

Once the surface is dry, paint the stairs with latex floor paint, or take advice from the paint manufacturer. Two thin coats are considered better than one thick one, but Lakeland also sells one coat paints for people in a hurry.

Let the stairs dry and cure completely before fitting your new stair runner. 

Below is Dulux’s video on decorating stairs. It leads on to others that may help your project. 


Some examples of customers well painted stairs

Sisal Gold stairrunner striped border monochromatic clean finish


Herringbone Twill black border



Seaspray stair runner grey/blue border

For queries dont hesitate to email