What is the Difference Between a Stair Run and a Tread?

What is the Difference Between a Stair Run and a Tread?

Are you wondering what the difference is between a stair run and a tread? Let's discuss the difference between these two products so you can find what you need.
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Many people ask us, "What is the difference between a stair run and a tread?" 

  • Stair treads: are horizontal applications that sit on the top surface of each step. 
  • Stair runners: are a narrow strip of carpeting, that runs along the front and top surfaces of the steps.

This article will help you understand the options for stair treads and runners and provide tips for caring for your stairs. 

Materials used for stair treads and runners

Stair treads can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, carpet, laminate, and vinyl. Runners are typically made from carpet, but can also be made from other materials such as sisal or jute.

Pros and cons of stair treads and runners

Stair treads provide more traction than runners and can be found in a variety of materials, such as wood, metal, and stone. They are more durable than runners and can last for many years with proper maintenance. They can also be customized to fit the style of your home and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Many types of stair treads can require professional help. But, there are options available that are easy to apply with no experience required.

Stair runners can be a great way to add a touch of style and sophistication to your home. On the plus side, stair runners can provide a softer surface to walk on, reduce noise from foot traffic, and protect the stairs from wear and tear. On the other hand, they can be difficult to install, require regular cleaning and maintenance, and can be more expensive than other flooring options. Ultimately, it is important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

Choosing the Right Stair Treads and Runners for Your Home

When choosing stair treads and runners, safety is very important to consider. Make sure the treads and runners you choose meet building code requirements for tread depth and riser height. The minimum tread depth for residential stairs is 10 inches, and the maximum riser height is 7 3/4 inches. The International Residential Code (IRC) requires a minimum tread depth of 11 inches and a maximum stair riser height of 7 3/4 inches. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also has specific requirements for stair tread depth and riser height.

Design is also an important consideration when choosing stair treads and runners. Look for options that complement the style of your home and provide the look you want. 

Caring for Your Stair Treads and Runners

Proper maintenance is key to keeping your stair treads and runners looking great and functioning safely. Regular cleaning is important to prevent dirt and debris from accumulating on the surface, which can make them slippery and increase the risk of falls. Use a vacuum or broom to remove dirt and debris, and spot clean any stains with a mild detergent and water.

 If your stair treads or runners become worn or damaged, it's important to replace them promptly to maintain safety.

DIY Installation of Stair Treads and Runners

To install stair runners, you may need some experience with basic tools, including a saw, hammer, and nails or screws. Follow these steps for a successful DIY installation:

  1. Measure the depth and width of each stair tread and runner.
  2. Cut the runner to size.
  3. Install the treads and runners using nails or screws.
  4. Finish the edges with trim or molding.

To install stair treads, you may need little to no experience whatsoever. There are many options available. Many stair tread options are available. 

Tape installation:

  1. measure and cut the tape to the desired length, then adhere it to the surface.
  2. Press firmly into the surface to ensure a secure fit.
  3. Inspect the area to make sure all edges are sealed and that there are no gaps or air bubbles. 

Adhesive Installation:

  1. Start by cleaning the stairs with a mild detergent and warm water.
  2. Once the stairs are dry, measure the treads to ensure they fit properly.
  3. Peel off the backing of the adhesive treads and press them firmly into place.
  4. Make sure to press down on the edges to ensure a secure bond. 

Oak Valley offers easy to install stair treads, that anyone can install with ease, for an affordable price. 


Stair treads and runners are important components of your home's staircase. Understanding the differences between them and choosing the right options for your home can help keep your family safe and your stairs looking great. Proper care and maintenance, including regular cleaning and prompt replacement of worn or damaged treads and runners, is essential to maintaining safety. A DIY installation can be a budget-friendly option, but it's important to seek professional help if you're not comfortable with the process.