Shopping for a Floor Runner

Floor runners offer a pleasing combination of form and function to help you protect and beautify your home, office or other space. While floor runners may have evolved from a need to help protect expensive wood floors, today they’re often used as a decorating accent to enhance a foyer, hallway or room. Keep in mind a few basics when you shop for a floor runner to get the most out of these stylish additions to a room, hallway or staircase.


If you’ll be putting your floor runner in a low-traffic area, you can focus more on style than durability. You can pick a more delicate or thinner material and lighter colors. If kids, dogs and many guests will be walking on the runner, you’ll want a material that won’t rip, tear or easily stain. In addition to cloth, floor runners come in materials ranging from bamboo to vinyl.


Consider how much and what type of traffic your floor runner will receive and how often you want need to clean it. If you live in a wet, snowy climate, your family and friends may be tracking muddy shoes and boots across your runner. Choose a thicker, darker floor runner with a fabric protector applied, and one that’s easily washable.


Placing a floor runner on a wood floor or other slick surface could present a danger if the runner slips when people step on it. If you’re buying a primarily functional floor runner, look for one with a non-skid backing. If you purchase a more decorative runner without backing, purchase some type of non-skid material to put underneath the floor runner.


Before you head to the store, measure the area where you’re going to put your floor runner. Decide if you want your floor runner to complement the flooring underneath—if so, you’ll want a narrower runner. Lay down a blanket or sheet at each end of the space where you’ll be placing your runner to simulate what you’ll see when you bring your runner home. You may think you want your runner to go all the way to the end of a hallway, but when you see what a covering may look like when it’s down, you may change your mind and opt for a shorter length. If you buy a custom runner and find it’s too long when you get it home, you can have it shortened. If your custom-made runner turns out to be too short, you most likely won’t be able to return it.


Floor runners come in as many styles as there are decors. Whether your space is contemporary, Country, Asian or any other specific style, you should be able to find a floor runner to match, or material from which you can have a custom floor runner made. If the main purpose of the floor runner is functional, but you don’t want to hide beautiful wood or tile floors, choose a thicker, narrow runner. You can choose a solid color to create contrast to floors or walls, or a pattern to liven up a conservative space.

Don’t limit floor runners to hallways. You can dress up large or small spaces with a well-chosen runner, playing off floors, furniture or other features of a room. Different from an area rug, a floor runner add a sense of movement or flow to a room.


Floor runners are especially popular from protecting and enhancing stairs. Whether you have a wood or carpeted staircase, a bold stair runner adds an interesting visual. Because of the dangers or slipping on a stair case, you’ll need to anchor your runner carefully, so discuss options for securing a stair runner with a salesperson before you buy, rather than trying to figure out your options when you get the piece home. Ask about stair rods, placed horizontally on each stair where the riser meets the tread. This adds security and a touch of elegance.

Got Tools?

Depending on where you’ll be placing your runner, you may need to do more than simply lay it down on the floor. You may need a cutting tool to trim padding. If you are using stair rods for a stairway, you may need a screwdriver or screws, depending on the system you purchase. Manually screwing in all the screws may become time consuming, so an electric screwdriver might be a smart option.

Buy a Backup Runner

If your floor runner becomes stained, torn or otherwise needs to be taken up, have a spare floor runner handy. You may need a temporary floor runner shortly before guests drop by, so balance your need for functionality with some style. A dark floor runner offers a quick fix to your dilemma and may not require a cleaning if you only use it for a short time.

Additional Ressources

Stair Runners