Waterfall vs. Hollywood Stair Runners

Wednesday, April 14, 2021 10:00 AM

Are you considering carpeting for your stairs? If yes, you have an installation choice: waterfall vs. Hollywood for those stair runners.

If you aren't sure about carpeted stairs, read on so you understand the benefits and the options available to you.

Ready to learn more? 

Why Carpet Your Stairs?

Carpeting your stairs is a good idea from multiple perspectives, not least of which is how beautiful a design statement it can make in a home. Here are other reasons.

  • Carpet protects from falls. Whether you have small folk around, aging parents or just yourself, carpeted stairs offer the kind of cushioning that can make the difference between barely a scratch and some intense bruising (or worse).
  • Carpet muffles sound. The clickety-clack of shoes on hard surface floors can get intense on stairs, especially when you hear lots of them going up and down. 
  • Carpet protects hardwood stairs. In many homes, the stairs are made of wood. Carpeted stairs protect the hardwood from the wear and tear of shoes and traffic.

What's the Difference Between Waterfall and Hollywood Stair Runners?

When you're ready to install carpet on stairs, you have a choice between two installation styles: waterfall and hollywood.

Waterfall Stair Runners

Just as the name 'waterfall' suggests, this installation method cascades the carpet down each step, creating a waterfall effect.

Essentially, the carpet is attached to the edge of the tread (the flat part of the step) and goes straight down the riser to the next step or tread, without being secured to the riser.

This style is more casual. It's also more commonly used than the Hollywood method. It's ideal for striped or patterned carpets as the pattern runs much more smoothly down the stairs.

The image below captures the waterfall method. Instead, though, of being a runner, this is a wall-to-wall installation we completed.

>> See How New Flooring Transforms 1980s Connecticut Condo

Waterfall carpet stair installation

Hollywood Stair Runners

The second stair runner installation style is known as Hollywood.

In the case of the Hollywood method, rather than cascade down the tread the carpet wraps tightly around the front edge of it and is then stapled under the stair nose. 

The end result is tailored, professional-looking, and elegant. In fact, it's often used for the most visible stairways in a home. In the image below, for example, which comes from the same installation described above, you see a Hollywood stair runner on the steps leading from the front door area into the living area. It makes a strong design statement!

The Hollywood installation is also known as the French Cap method and the upholstered method.

This style takes longer to install than the waterfall method, and also requires more carpet. 

Hollywood stair runner carpet installation

What Are Some Carpet Style and Design Options for Your Stair Runners? 

You have a multitude of style and design options when it comes to selecting carpet runners for your stairs. Just about any carpet available can be customized for you whether specifically designed as a runner or broadweave carpet - with a pattern or without.

If you'd like, you can even customize an area rug to complement or coordinate with your stair runner.

>> See Looking for the Perfect Sized Custom Rug for Your Home? We Have It!

You can also select from a range of carpet fibers - whether wool, nylon, olefin, or a blend. Construction and pattern will help you find the right design and color to address the level of traffic you expect, as well as accommodate any pets or kids.

>> See Try Flatweave Wool Carpet for that Nubby, Natural Sweater Look

>> See Bellera and Stainmaster Petprotect: Carpets that Perform

What Are Some Carpeted Stair Installation Considerations? 

Stair Railings

Although we've focused primarily on stair installation methods for runners, when it comes to carpeting the entire stairs (as you saw above), you may have to take into consideration railings.

For an experienced carpet installer, railings aren't an issue although they add complexity since the carpet has to be cut around each post and then re-joined on the other side.

Curved or Pie-Shaped Stairs

Some stairways have landings or curve as they go up. An experienced installer knows how to take these changes into account and will help you estimate quantity so as to trim excess carpet accordingly from step to step. 


Additional Stair Runner Inspiration

These installations come from our Instagram feed.

Waterfall Stair Runner Ideas

Hollywood Stair Runner Ideas


>> Also check out the Floor Decor Design Center Custom Area Rug Installation Guide.

Waterfall or Hollywood Stair Runner? Which Do You Like Best?

If you're ready to carpet your stairs, we hope you'll consider Floor Decor Design Center.

When you visit one of our two showroom locations in Middletown or Orange, you'll find a rich selection of carpet runners to pick from. 

And, if you'd prefer to work with a designer, we can help you with that, too, via our Shop at Home Design service.

Let us know of any questions in the comments or contact us.

We look forward to helping you.

Thanks for reading,

Janine & Michael


Schedule Your Floor Decor Design Center Shop at Home Service AppointmentNote: We originally published this article on March 13, 2019, and have updated it with new images.

Michael Phoenix, Floor Decor Design Center

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