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How to Choose the Right Stair Carpet Rods for your Staircase

This guide to choosing the right stair carpet rods for your home provides a check-list of what to consider before ordering.  Whilst choosing the finial design and the finish of your carpet rods is important, you do need to make sure you are ordering the correct type of bracket and length for your particular project. Most quality designs are custom-made, so it is always advisable to do your homework before ordering. For this reason we supply free of charge samples.

satin nickel stair carpet rods fitted to dark brown stair runner on white staircase
Quality stair rods are custom-made to the length you require

Do you have a stair runner or fitted stair carpet?

Stair runners are currently very much in vogue and there are some fabulous designs around. A carpet runner can be any width but it is always inset from the edge of a staircase which reveals some of the painted step. Meanwhile, a fitted stair carpet covers the entire width of each step, from one stringboard to the other.

Stair rods vary in design and functionality, depending on whether you have a fitted or runner stair carpet.

So, the first piece of advice is to choose your stair carpet before ordering your carpet rods. Ideally, have it fitted too, before choosing – this will reduce the risk of measuring up incorrectly.

How to fit stair rods featuring runner, front fix & side fix brackets
There are 3 main types of stair rod as illustrated: Front Fix, Runner and Side Fix

What diameter of rod to choose?

If you are looking for a pleasing effect, the wider your staircase then the thicker the stair-rod you will require. Interestingly, staircases vary enormously in width. A new-build or Victorian terrace may have a staircase that measures as little as 800mm, or even less. In contrast, the central staircase of a 21st century, luxury house could be three times or more as wide.

For a pleasing visual effect, you need to choose a diameter of stairrod in scale with your staircase.

  • For a tight, narrow staircase, up to around 825mm wide, a slender 9mm rod will do, such as the Jubilee. For more impact, choose a more standard 12mm rod.
  • For most residential staircases from around 825mm-1500mm wide, then a 12mm or 12.5mm diameter rod will look the part, such as the Vision or Country ranges.
  • For staircases over 1500mm wide, we would recommend moving up to a chunkier 16mm diameter rod such as the Eastern Promise range of designs or the 16mm versions of the Premier and Country ranges.

Ultimately, the choice is subjective and there is no “right” or “wrong” answer. However, stair rods are a decorative feature and you do want to notice them. So, don’t skimp!

Let your carpet and décor inspire your choice

Stair carpet bars are purely decorative and are fitted to enhance the look of your staircase. Whilst beige stair runners are possibly the most commonly chosen stair runner style in the UK, other fashionable designs include colourful stripes, bordered and spots. Therefore, it is always a good idea to ask yourself a few questions before choosing a stair rod design:

  • Contemporary or traditional? It’s useful to consider the look of your stair runner and your surrounding decorations, plus the style of your staircase and choose a design that complements. The stylised acorn ends of the solid brass Lancaster or the traditional ball of the Balladeer both work well with a period décor scheme. Meanwhile the geometric Arrow in polished chrome or the crisp profile of the hexagonal Hanover in a fashionable brushed chrome would work well with stripes, monochromes and plain runners. Or, you could have fun and dazzle your guests with the Crystal range.
  • Subtle or striking? Polished brass stairrods that virtually match a golden stair runner will be subtle in their effect. Whereas, a rich antique bronze finish will be a striking contrast.
  • Bold or minimalist? Chunky 16mm designs such as Cairo or Dubai are perfect for a major staircase with wide steps. The ‘ends’ are larger scale than on a standard 12mm diameter rod and will create an attractive feature. Alternatively, simple designs such as the triangular Vue have a classic, elegance to them.
Hanover stair carpet rods fitted up flight of wood steps in residential home
Premier Hanover stair rods for a runner carpet

Off-the-shelf or bespoke-made stair carpet rods

Given the fact that most staircases vary in width and that runners are often custom-made, there is no standard length for a stair rod. Consequently, most are made-to-order. This means that the rods will be delivered complete with a separate pair of brackets and the decorative finials (end pieces) will be attached to the rod.

In contrast, you can purchase cheap stair rods which can be cut to size on site. You simply choose the length, based on the width of your runner, which is the same or longer than your runner width. These arrive with the brackets and the finial ends attached to each other and the bar is separate. In this way you can easily cut the bars to length. The downside of such an arrangement is that the overall effect is rather squashed up, with very little over-hang either side of the runner. However, these tend to be the cheaper option of design e.g. Homepride, Jubilee.

Natural and sustainable options

If you are looking to create a natural ambience, then wooden stair rods such as the Tudor are worth considering. Primarily made from sustainable wood, they have the added interest of having a flat face rather than the more common spherical rod.

How to measure up

There are two different ways of measuring the length of carpet rod to be ordered and it depends on the manufacturer and design of rod you have chosen as to which you need to do.

Option 1

The Homepride and Jubilee ranges of runner rods are pre-made in four stock lengths. You choose the appropriate one, based on the total width of your stair runner.

For runners up to 700mm wide
For runners up to 890mm wide
For runners up to 1200mm wide
For runners up to 1500mm wide

Option 2

For all the custom-made, quality carpet rods you order the tip-to-tip measurement of the total rod, allowing for a suitable over-hang either side of your runner. Ranges such as the solid brass Premier stair rods, Vision, Tudor, Eastern Promise, Country all fall into this category.

This table is a useful guide for calculating the length:

Stair Rod DesignRod DimensionTip-to-Tip Measurement for Runner Rods
Arran, Arrow, Balladeer, Balmoral, Bordeaux, Chatsworth, Crystal Amber, Crystal Rainbow, Crystal Sky, Lancaster, Piston, Sherwood, Sphere, Tudor Light, Tudor Dark, Windsor, Woburn, Flat, Ball12mm  (1/2”)100mm (around 4”) more than the width of your stair runner
Beaumont, Louis, VueFlat faced, triangular150mm (around 6”) more than the width of your stair runner

Are brackets included?

When purchasing, a rod typically includes a pair of matching brackets. If you acquire some vintage rods of a salvage yard or find some in the loft, then it seems quite common that the brackets will have gone missing. In that case, you can purchase spare brackets (sold in pairs). However, always check the dimensions as period rods are typically slightly different diameter to ones manufactured today.

My bottom steps is curved – what do I do?

A lovely rounded bottom step is an attractive feature to a staircase. There are two options when it comes to installing stair rods on such steps:

Option 1:

Leave the step without a stair rod and fit them only on the straight steps rising above.

Option 2

It is possible to order custom-made curved stair rods, to match a template. Reputable retailers will organise this for you. Only certain designs can be curved and these include: the solid brass Premier rods. A fixed template has to be supplied to the manufacturer. A good way to supply this is drawn onto lino or similar – in this way the exact curve of the rod and its length plus position of brackets can be clearly provided. Your carpet rods will then be bespoke-manufactured to your template. The finished result can be stunning.

Maintenance and cleaning advice

If you purchase new stair rods, such as found here, then they are thankfully supplied pre-coated with an invisible lacquer. No need to get the brass polish out and get on your hands and knees! This means that your rods will not tarnish. So chrome stair rods remain sparkling and pristine and a polished brass finish will not gradually become antique. To look after them, you simply wipe with a damp cloth or duster now and then.

Meanwhile, if you have vintage rods, then you will find that the finish will have antiqued over time and in some cases been removed entirely. Using propriety cleaning products may help but the results can be disappointing.

Top mistakes to avoid and useful tips when ordering your carpet rods:

  1. Fit your runner before working out the length of stair rods you need to order
  2. Check the length of rod for each step – they can vary
  3. Only use a 9mm diameter rod on a narrow staircase
  4. Get an expert fitter to install winder stair rods – it takes an expert who knows what they are doing
  5. Don’t order extra brackets – your rods will be supplied with matching brackets
  6. Choose the correct design of bracket for either a runner carpet or a fitted stair carpet as they are different fittings
  7. Salvaging vintage rods might sound a good idea but they can work out expensive to restore

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