How To Install Carpet On Stairs Without Tack Strips (Do This!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

If you’ve ever seen a home that was built since the 1980s, then you probably have seen stairs that had a carpet on top of them. Carpeted stairs are nice, snuggly, and also help cushion falls that you might have. Traditionally, you would need to install carpeting on stairs using tack strips. However, that’s not always the case anymore. There are alternatives you can choose from.

To install carpet on stairs without tack strips you can use carpet adhesive, magnetic flooring, or staples; adhesive is the most common method. Apply a 12-inch strip of adhesive to the step and lay the carpet over the step, smoothing it out by hand. Tamp it down to hold in place, or as an alternative secure it with staples.

Tack strips are so 1997, right? Well, they still work, but not all of us enjoy using them in installation jobs. If you’re looking to avoid the price fo tack strips, then you’re in luck. This article is made for you.

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What Are Tackless Strips?

If you don’t want to use tack strips, you can always try out tackless strips. These strips are thin pieces of wood that are lined with metal tacks that are aimed towards the wall. While these are technically tackless, the sharp metal still causes the same issues as a tack strip. Therefore, it’s better to refrain from using these and go with an alternative method.

Can You Install Carpet On Stairs Without Tack Strips?

In the past, this answer would have been a solid no. Today, it’s a fair yes. There’s an entire category carpet installation techniques that are used without tack strips. They’re called tackles installations, and they can be done fairly easily.

Should You Install Carpet Without Using Tack Strips?

Whether or not you use tack strips to install carpet on your stairs is entirely up to you. However, some professionals are against it because it’s hard to get the carpet to stay in place. If the carpet slides, this can post a safety issue.

Regardless of the consequences, people still prefer not to use the tack strip so that they can remove the carpet easier if they want to participate in seasonal remodeling. Tack strips also leave unsightly holes in wood, which can be an issue when it comes to selling the property.

Also known as tackless strips, these are skinny strips of wood lined with sharp metal tacks angled toward the wall. Pelletier Rugs refer to tackless carpet installation as a means of securing the carpet with these strips, which are either nailed or glued to the floor around a room’s edges.

How To Install Carpet Without Tack Strips

  • Choose your method. Since you don’t want to use tack strips to install the carpet onto your stairs, there are several methods that you can choose from below, such as staples, carpet adhesives, magnetic flooring, and more. The way you execute your project depends on the method that you prefer. Therefore, it’s crucial for you to choose the method that’s best for you before you even begin.
  • Prepare your floor. Before you install any carpet or underlayment, you will first need to clean your floor. Take some warm water with a few drops of dawn dish soap in a bucket and wipe your stairs up with this mixture and an old rag. Make sure you get all the dust and dirt off the floor.
  • Dry your floor. After you wash the stairs, you will need to let them dry. You can help to quicken the process by taking a towel and wiping up any excess water. Make sure that you get deep into the corners as water likes to spread into cracks. Let it sit for an additional half-hour to ensure it’s fully dry so that it does not encourage any mold growth.
  • Apply your method. For this example, we’ll go with carpet adhesive. You want to apply a layer of your chosen adhesive to all the corners of the area you want the carpet to stick to. The area covered should about 1 to 1.5 feet long. If you use staples, you’ll want to set the carpet and staple all the corners down, as well as the middle.
  • Place your carpet. Set your carpet onto the area that you applied the adhesive to, and make sure that all the wrinkles and lumps are gone before letting it set. Then, use a roller or wooden plank to roll across the carpet to ensure it catches onto the carpet.
  • Check the area. Regardless of the method you used, you will want to double-check that you have made the carpet night and snug against the stairs. This is the most critical aspect of the project, as it will help prevent accidents.

Are Tackless Carpet Installations As Safe As Tack Strip Installations?

There’s a common belief that tackless installs can be unsafe due to the potential of having the glue deteriorate. When done properly and maintained well, you shouldn’t worry about safety. Besides, carpet and wood glues both tend to be fairly sturdy and resistant to deterioration.

Is A Tackless Carpet Installation A DIY Job?

Are you worried about lacking the skill and equipment necessary to do a stair installation? You’re not alone, but don’t worry. Installing carpeting on stairs is actually one of the easiest home improvement projects you can do with a carpet. Even if you’re a newbie to the DIY world, it’s a doable project if you want it to be.

There’s no need to worry about expensive equipment requirements, either. You don’t need any real major tools to make this happen. As long as you have a sharp knife, glue, a hammer, and nails, you probably will be able to do a tackless installation.

How Much Does A Tackless Carpet Installation Cost?

With most carpet installs, it’s possible to do it on your own. So the price of your carpet installation could be as low as the price of the carpet that you choose, paired with the price of the glue. If you choose to get it professionally installed, you can expect the fees to be approximately $6 to $16 per step of carpeting. If you have a high-end carpet, you may be required to pay more.

Alternatives To Using Tack Strips

Instead of using tack strips or tackless strips and running the risk of ruining your wood, we’ve put together a few alternative ideas for you to choose from below.

Carpet Adhesive

On great way to bypass using tack strips for carpet installation on your stairs is to use an industrial-strength carpet adhesive that’s called carpet seam epoxy. This is exceptionally sticky and uses resins to connect the carpet to the floor.

You can also set this against the edges of your carpet to keep the edges from lifting and becoming frayed. It only takes about 15 minutes to set and about 24 hours to cure.

EnviroStik Spray Tack

One great product for carpet adhesive is the EnviroStik Spray Tack. You can get this at pretty much any home improvement or hardware stores such as Home Depot, ACE, or Lowes. Simply spray this onto the surface and lay the carpet. You may need to put some weight to help it stick quicker and better.

Carpet Tiles

Carpet tiles are another fantastic product to use instead of tack strips. If you haven’t bought your carpet yet, you can get carpet squares instead for easier installation. They’re the easiest product to work with regarding carpeted stairs.

Instead of stretching the carpet or using staples or nails, you can simply spray some adhesive and stick. That way, if any portion of the carpet is damaged, you can simply remove that single piece and lay a new square without having to tear up the entire thing.

Carpet Underlay

If your stairs are made of concrete or a cold hard surface, then underlay might be a great idea to use instead of tack strips. This is because it helps insulate the surface while keeping the carpet from sliding around on the stairs under your feet.

Not to mention, moisture and condensation make the perfect environment for mold, bacteria, and mildew to grow. By setting underlayment on your stairs under your carpet, this will prevent the unwanted spores from growing.

However, make sure you find an underlayment that is high quality and synthetic so that it will add some cushion. Also, this will help the inexpensive carpet to last longer.


Something else that you can use is tape. We’re not talking about the regular scotch tape, but rather a special type of tape that can attach to carpets and floors. One good product is OEM Anti-Slip Tread Tape. This is usually used to provide a slip resistance surface for carpets on stairways.

Double-Sided Tape

You’ll also want to use double-sided tape to ensure that the carpet seams and border edges are linked in place. Choose a heavy-duty double-sided tape that is designed for installing carpets.

With the double-sided type, one side of the tape is for securing the bottom part of the carpet to the floor, while the other side connects the floor to the carpet. The dual action provides the best result and has a better chance of keeping the carpet from sliding.

With tape, you can expect the adhesive properties to deteriorate as time goes on. Because of this deterioration, the carpet may slide, and that could result in an accident. However, to avoid this, you can combine tape with a reinforcement method such as carpet adhesives or staples.


Staples are an age-old method that’s proven to keep the carpet in its place, keeping it from sliding out from under your feet. They are safe and easy to use, and they help keep the carpets tightly fitted against the surface.

However, the downside is that staples do deface the wood that is underneath the carpet. Also, they can get rusty as time goes on, which can cause your carpet to age quicker. This means you would need to replace your carpet a lot sooner than you intended. However, you can always spray it with an anti-rust solution to keep this from happening.

Magnetic Flooring

If you haven’t already bought your carpet you can use magnetic flooring instead! You would need to glue a special type of underlayment to the stairs and set the carpet on top. The underlayment is magnetic and will hold the carpet in place for you.

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Related Questions

What kind of carpet should I use for my stairs?

We suggest not using a carpet with padding installed underneath it unless you’re working with concrete. The best carpet for stairs will be made with high traffic in mind, and will have a short length. Longer carpeting can be difficult to clean and more prone to traffick-related damage.

How long does it take to install carpet on stairs?

Tackless or otherwise, a typical carpet installation gig isn’t going to be a 30-minute affair. Most casual DIYers will find that a typical staircase will take around three to five hours to complete.

Can you lay carpet over existing carpet?

While doing this can be risky for mold and other things, the truth is that you don’t have to remove your current carpet if you want to add new carpet to your home. If installed properly, you can potentially lay a new carpet over existing carpet without any issues to speak of.

How can I tell if I need to replace my carpet?

Usually, you can tell if a carpet needs replacement by just looking at it. Most carpets can recover from heavy traffic as long as they have a little tender love and care. When they no longer are salvageable, that’s when you should worry. Ergo, if your carpet looks threadbare, is unraveling at the seams, has water damage, or is too dirty to clean, you need to replace it. There’s nothing you can do to save it.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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