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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sisal stair runners

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January is here, and I am now tackling some of the open items that fell to the wayside after the push to finish the house build in the late summer/early fall.

One of the highest priority items is a runner for the main stairs, seen above.  This grainy image was taken this morning with my iphone, sorry for the poor quality of the photo!  Lack of a runner has not bothered me in the slightest from a visual perspective; the stairs were crafted with the mellow white oak that we used for the rest of the house, with the same lightly limewashed finish that gives them the appearance of the natural color of the oak (as with most things, we spent three months and created countless samples to get the exact tone that I had in mind).  The stairs are 4 feet wide.

However, from a safety perspective, it is clear that we need a runner.  So my next project is selecting a runner for the stairs, and given that I have always wanted a sisal runner, and this is what I have been investigating.

Pictures on the internet are not easy to find – perhaps because the tag on the picture is usually not about the stair runner.  This picture, a still shot from a recent movie, shows a beautiful runner on the stairs.  I am not sure if it is sisal or seagrass, but I love the neutral and textured look.

Another picture I was able to find shows stairs that also are sisal or seagrass, again with the dark tape for contrast.

This stair runner is clearly seagrass.  I like the look of the contrasting tape, but for me I prefer a tape color that matches the color of the seagrass or sisal. Source.

Another dark binding.  I love the look of this stair well, with the texture of the sisal, the paneling, the interesting variety of framed items on the walls.

Another sisal or seagrass runner, via House Beautiful. I initially interpreted the left side as a dark tape, but now I think it is the dark wood showing – the runner is quite wide with a very small reveal on the side.

This has the effect of a sisal rug, although I am not sure if it is sisal.  Design by Barry Dixon, via Acanthus and Acorn in her wonderful post (click here) on stair runners. 

This herringbone pattern sisal is really beautiful.  It appears that the edges are serged rather than bound with tape, which gives a clean look.  I considered using a sisal with this pattern, but given that I have a plain sisal upstairs, and a diamond sisal in the dining room downstairs, I wanted to use one of the patterns already established in the house rather than introducing another pattern.

Here is a great picture of a stair runner in a plain sisal – from a recent project by Suzanne Kasler, via Traditional Home.  The tape is tone on tone with the sisal, and the installation is more of the upholstered style where the carpet conforms to the edge of the stairs.  I love the relaxed elegance of a sisal stair runner.  In fact, I could truly use sisal in every room in my house – my husband forbade me from doing this in the new house, but I was able to get sisal in at least two rooms!

Here is the picture, via Traditional Home, that got me motivated to go ahead and tackle the stair runner.  This is the diamond pattern sisal that I have in my dining room – it is really striking.  Note how the pattern is installed with the diamond on the vertical rather than the horizontal – from what I understand, this pattern is typically installed on the horizontal.  I wonder if the vertical orientation was deemed to work better with the shape and curve of the stairs?

Interestingly, the price on this diamond sisal has come down significantly over the past year.  I have heard it is because one mill used to have a lock on this design, and now several are making it.  Note how this sisal has a serged edge, from what I understand something relatively new with sisal.  Does anyone know how successful a serged edge has been with sisal?

This is not a professional picture, and the stairs are somewhat narrow, but another example of the diamond sisal on stairs.  Note how the diamond pattern is installed differently than the picture above, with the diamond wide rather than tall.

So, this is where I would love your input! To refresh your memory, here are my stairs.  Given the width of the stairs, I think the diamond pattern sisal would work well, and would tie in well with the diamond pattern that is in the dining room.
The question is, should I do the diamond on the vertical or the horizontal?

Here is on the horizontal (iphone snap taken from my dining room).

Or on the vertical?
Your thoughts would be appreciated!


Update: I have heard that one of the directions is the standard installation because it is much stronger and the runner wears better - I am trying to figure out which way, but this might be the deciding factor!



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74 comments:

  1. Holly.. what a gorgeous home you have!

    I love your idea of using sisal. I prefer horizontally. I think it would give a more "continues" feel to the steps.

    Wishing you a very healthy and happy 2012!

    xo

    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

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  2. i have done it for a client with a border.
    additionally i used oiled bronze bars.
    it came out great!

    good luck.
    yours will be gorgeous

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  3. Love the sisal. I would do it horizontal on the stairs.

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  4. The Traditional Home shot might have done the stairs on the vertical because the stairs look narrow. Horizontal would probably work better for you. Make sure that you center a diamond in the middle of the stair, or see the pattern before determining the width - you might want to fit as many diamonds in there as possible.

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  5. I'm with you -I want to do the same thing on our stairs!
    In general, patterns should run perpendicular with the traffic flow (a rule of thumb I learned along the way from flooring specialist) unless of course you like the other way better (something else I learned along the way!).

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  6. I would choose vertical so the pattern moves upward with the person climbing the steps.....if that makes sense to you!

    I choose a very flat wool runner in the exact tones as sisal for our stairs. We have large jute rugs throughout the first floor of our home. The runner blends perfectly with them, is softer to bare feet and easier to clean.

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  7. Oops, meant to say I chose...past tense when referring to our home. May I say that your house is so beautiful! I love all your choices and taste. I have an obsession with Atlanta homes after living in the Duck Pond and Peachtree Battle areas in college. My husband's family lives in the suburbs and every year at Thanksgiving when we are there, we spend Friday having lunch and then touring my favorite neighborhoods.

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  8. Beautiful and I love the lime washed oak, so I can imagine how difficult it is to cover, but I understand the safety aspect. Personally I like the vertical diamond pattern for the stairs. Maybe it's what cindy said above about the "upward" movement with the climbing the stairs.

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  9. thanks for this post; I'll be checking in on the comments, too, as I want to put seagrass on our stairs. I know you prefer sisal, but I do think these natural fibers are so similar. I noticed Lauren of PSH has seagrass on her entry stairs - I keep meaning to e-mail her about hers - I have heard seagrass might be slippery underfoot on stairs. at times. donna

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  10. I don't have any advice. We have slight family disharmony about our runner. I like our ordinary green carpet, she'd like it bare wood. It's getting a little worn and we'll have to call Gordon. That sisal sound a bit tough on the feet and a bit slippery, at least more slipper than wool.

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  11. I prefer the vertical, it seems more comfortable in that position. Plus, your stairs are already fairly wide at 4 ft so I think that's another reason they would carry off the vertical position.

    My friend just bought this same pattern from Stark and she was surprised at the lower price.

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  12. The horizontal definitely introduces another pattern and texture which makes sense since the two carpets may be of a different color. I think the vertical tends to look busy.

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  13. I just removed all the sisal and seagrass from my home, as the fibers were really hard to keep pristine. Have returned to the Turkish rugs that my parents favored.

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  14. We had the carpet removed from our stairs as it was too difficult to keep it clean. We got used to the bare stairs pretty quickly but we have no kids. As far as pattern goes I prefer the horizontal one.

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  15. The good thing about sisal is that it is so (relatively) reasonable. You have to be willing to change it out a bit more often than other rugs because you can't clean it, but it costs much less than wool rugs.

    I have worked with a rug installer who has installed hundreds of this pattern sisal, and plain sisal too, on stairs. He said that generally the installation is horizontal as that direction is stronger on the use pattern of stairs. Also, he said he has never had a single customer comment on it being slippery - the diamond in particular is not slippery, according to him.

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  16. Holly, I prefer the vertical because the horizontal seems to look squatty - I think making the stairs look shorter. The vertical looks long and lean directing your eyes up. Good luck. Your house is lovely.

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  17. I have the same rug in my dining room and LOVE it! I like the idea of continuing the diamond pattern up the stairs. At first glance, I would have said horizontal, but the traditional home picture looks vertical and I like that much better. It draws your eyes up the stairs so vertical!

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  18. I am using the diamond sisal in our dining room with our chippendale chairs as well . . . love how it updates such a traditional table.

    I agree with those who vote for vertical - for the reason that it does seem to bring your eye up the stairs. The horizontal is a bit squatty looking. . . although either would be beautiful!

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  19. Oh boy...do I know your agony! I have several samples of this rug and couldn't decide and then thought I do a wool pattern instead. And, then I put everything on hold while we having some work done so it wouldn't get damaged.

    We love the way the wood stairs look, but it most definately comes down to comfort and safety and hopefully I'll knock it off the list year!

    Given this post and the points you makes with the pictures, instinct would say horizontal to make the stairs look wider, but I like the interest that the vertical pattern creates as it just takes your eyes right up the staircase and I find that so appealing!

    Thanks for the mention and best of luck with your decision, either way it's going to look and feel great!!!
    xo,
    ~R

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  20. I wonder if people think the horizontal looks squatty because the stair you have a picture of is really too narrow for the diamond pattern done horizontally. Your stairs seem to have more width. You could do either.

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  21. I think the vertical....now I want to go back and read what others thought....

    Kathy :)

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  22. I think the horizontal - something about the horizontal wideness of that pattern looks like it would visually contrast the tallness of the stairs.

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  23. Much prefer the vertical and I agree with you I do not care for all that binding...too commercial looking!

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  24. I vote for the vertical... Love the look .

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  25. I agree with the comment that the horizontal looks squatty - and I would add expected. Vertical is much more interesting and draws the eye upward.

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  26. i need that sisal for my stairs as well! i would prob play it safe and go horizontal even though it looks fab in the picture vertically. thanks so much for catloging all these images. really great timing!

    michele

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  27. Well if it was me, I would go for the diamond, first I happen to love that pattern, in our apt. in NYC, we used that, and it was the one thing I loved every single day from the day we did it until the day we moved out. Its a classic and its timeless and it gives you a slight bit of pattern that is different from everything else. As far as direction, I would go vertical hands down. I was told by a very famous designer who you would know, that always go veritcal when you are able, its important to draw the eye up, and I in general belive that myself and have always done this with almost anything (as long as it makes sense). So thats my 2 cents. Good luck, I just know its going to be beautiful!

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  28. I personally would go with the vertical for height and seagrass is softer under foot then sisal but that's just my opinion. I know whatever you choose it's going to be fabulous!

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  29. I'd go vertical for sure...no binding (weird because I'm usually a binding girl, but I like the look of it without in this case).

    Happy nesting!
    Linsey

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  30. I would go vertical with no binding on the stairs.

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  31. We built our house over 18 years ago and left our lovely stairs bare. It has not been a safety issue. I see a runner on the stairs as just one more thing to have to replace as it gets dingy. To me, it would be more dangerous to have a runner on the stairs--with perhaps a heel getting caught etc. It IS important not to run up and down stairs in sock feet, but bare feet and shoed feet are not dangerous. I would think a runner would be more slippery. Just my opinion

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  32. I like vertical placement I find it more interesting and a little different than the norm. It may actually be cheaper, depending on the width and length of your stairs Typically seagrass or at least the ones I have used from Stark and Prestige Mills comes in 12'6" widths, so if you go vertically you will be cutting off the end of the run where as, if using horizontally, you will have to buy the length to get the pattern to run horizontally. Does that make sense? Just a thought!

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  33. Holly the perfect choice!!

    I know that Joni at one point did a post on the pros and cons of sisal vs sea grass. Regardless I would go with the vertical and a matching tape.

    I just think the tape gives it more of a finished look.

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  34. I think that if you stairs aren't particularly deep to where a diamond can't fit all the way ON a stair, I think I might do the horizontal. You might lose some of the beauty of the pattern if the diamonds look "pulled" down the stairs b/c they can't "fit". This isn't an issue when you're standing far back, but unless you have a really big entry hall, you may never have that distant view. That's just my thought!
    BUT if the diamond will fit, I say vertical. It will pull your eye up the stairs.
    Not sure how I feel about the tape. I notice that the tape on my seagrass rug has taken a beating, and it's in a room without a lot of foot traffic. The seagrass looks great but the tape has worn not as well.

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  35. Wonderful ideas.... I would do the Horizontal. The Vertical has too much width to my eye that distracts. The glimpses of your home are truly beautiful.

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  36. Small world...I pulled that same pic from Trad Home & was going to run over to Myers sometime to price it out. Is that where you're getting yours? We've had bare wood on our entry stairs for 9 years, but my husband is keen on doing the runner now that we've completed phase 1 of our reno. My concern is that we're planning to redo our upstairs baths this summer as part of phase 2 & I don't want the workmen to trash my new runner. (But I suppose they could trash my newly refinished floors as well). Any thoughts on that?

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  37. I wold go on the vertical. It feels like a more natural flow for stairs... up and down. I like the simplicity of the serged edge with the diamond pattern. I too am looking for a sisal or seagrass runner any help on a source would be appreciated i am in piitsburgh.
    love your home.
    meg

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  38. OK, I just looked again at the very first picture in this post which is absolutely gorgeous. I think I changed my mind. Vertical....the diamond doesn't fit on those stairs and it looks fabulous. I think pulling your eye up the stairs is important.
    NOT to change the subject, but the next time I do a runner I'm doing antelope....will wear like iron and not become "slippery" like seagrass and sisal can become.

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  39. I love the look! BUT I was told that seagrass can be slick as it wears.....would love to hear if anyone has had that experience. great post!

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    Replies
    1. YES! It becomes very slick...especially on stairs! I wouldn't recommend seagrass on stairs but sisal is better.

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  40. I've seen your update, and I agree that the sturdiness factor should ultimately guide your decision. Before I saw the photos of the example runners, I thought I was going to lean toward the vertical placement, but I actually like the horizontal. It seems to provide a clearer and better placement of the pattern. I almost installed a sisal runner a few years ago, but I ended up falling in love with another! I have a Roger Oates flatweave runner on my stairs. It's the Sudbury design in natural. It has a beautiful tone on tone stripe and adds just a bit of pattern to my entrance. You can see a sample on the website "Stair Crazy".

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  41. Definitely....vertical! The horizontal just looks wrong. I love this pattern and would love to
    have it on my stairway. Hmmmm....you've given my brain a little tease!

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  42. I didn't read all the posts, but after skimming through most I will leave this comment. Serging is not really an option for these types of rugs as the material is too thick to run through a serging machine. I thought I remembered this from my years of designing and talked to my Stark rep and he confirmed it too. Soo...it's binding for all!

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  43. I say vertical....the stairs are already wide....they would look wider in my view point if you did horizontal.....Love the look!

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  44. Hi Holly,
    I have read your blog for a long time and every single time you write a new post I show it to my husband because we cannot believe how many things we have in commmon. I prefer the plain sisaland do not ike pattern on a stairs. I would save the beautiful diamond pattern for your dining room to make it more special there.
    Whatever you decide will be beautiful, always is.
    Melissa

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  45. The vertical looks more elegant to me, but I agree with the previous poster that if it were me I'd go with plain. Thanks for a lovely post - you've inspired me to check into a sisal runner for my stairs.

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  46. Your home and taste are exquisite, for certain whatever you chose will look wonderful. Thought, runners are usually in one piece (unless there is a turn or landing), no? So, would the way the pattern is running on the carpet and the width of it (unless seamed or wide enough) would you be limited to the way it ran? Or, perhaps being a natural carpet they have to seam each step (I am not certain on this)? There is also some nice looking (don't cringe till you check them out) polypropylene carpet options in diamond patterns that mimics natural fibers (sort of) made by: Stanton Carpets (they also have nice wool blend options too :) ) Good luck.. Looking forward to seeing what you do.

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  47. I would go horizontal. Love the pattern!

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  48. Vertical! :) I prefer how the vertical pattern wraps over the step. The horizontal patterns seems to match too closely the top and bottom distance of the riser.

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  49. My favorite picture is the herringbone sisal. I love it!

    I came across this when I did a search for sisal stair runner. I am amazed when people say that sisal could be slippery - they might be thinking about seagrass. Sisal has a lot of texture, does not seem slippery at all. The diamond patterns seems like it would be even less slippery because of the weave.

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    Replies
    1. Seagrass slippery on stairs? I have it in my dining room and it's got texture...not slippery at all.

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  50. I am a fan of Sisal rugs. I love the fact you can layer them so easy. I love the herringbone pattern for the stairs. Cant wait to see it.

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  51. Be careful with the color of the tape. If you go too light it will show dirt...Hopefully ,most people would wank in the center of the runner but...just to be sure, I would go a little darker. There is a huge variety of borders available some are cotton others have a bit of sheen-perhaps a nylon blend. I would stay natural. Good luck! So many decisions!

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    Replies
    1. We decided to do a serged edge - a little bit more expensive, but a cleaner look.

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  52. As always, fun to look over your shoulder on what you're working on for the house!!!

    I am usually on the fence, but my instant gut reaction says, go vertical. And if that isn't what you were thinking....go with "your gut" instead! :)
    xo Elizabeth

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  53. http://media-cdn.pinterest.com/upload/279152876872448876_1zLcqVYh_b.jpg

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  54. Horizontal gets my vote. Good luck!

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  55. I have to know more about the light lime wash! Please! I have fallen in love with my own oak flooring which I am living with unfinished as I have yet to find a stain or finish that is a nice as the unfinished/natural - until now. My patient husband thought you might be loving/living with unfinished floors to from you Christmas shots.

    And my vote is absolutely horizontal as the first dining room rug shot for the stairs.

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    Replies
    1. We have a very, very light limewash finish and a matte varnish. It took us months and months to come up with the right color - we tested so many different kinds of wood and so many different limewash finishes! The other thing we did was have the oak wirebrushed, which gives it a distinctive look and allowed the limewash to adhere in a different way.

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  56. I am adding seagrass to my stairs and the second floor of my house. I think the vertical will elongate the space and the horizontal will make staircase look wider. I personally like vertical and the owner of the carpet place that installed seagrass in my dining room mentioned "vertical" is the way to go and lasts longer. Good luck and I can't wait to see what you do.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sandra-

      I went to the carpet place, and they said that the horizontal direction for this particular pattern is the way it is supposed to be installed - and if you look at the fibers, it is easy to see why. Installing it vertically would wear much worse.

      So, I am doing the horizontal installation - hope it looks good!

      - Holly

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  57. The black border is not only a design but serves as a guide and prevent accidents. Thanks for posting.

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  58. Wonderful photos of stair runners. Black banded edges are one of my favorite looks! Thanks for putting the looks together for us.


    Linda

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  59. We had a sisal stair runner in a previous house, with a stenciled border. It was beautiful -- at least to start -- but I would not say it was practical. It became dirty very quickly -- stairs get a lot more wear than a typical area rug -- and not really possible to clean. Not a nice first impression in the entry. Our children were small at the time, and there was no question it was more slippery with the sisal than without (it was an un-patterned sisal however). It was also not kind to the knees if one slipped. After this experience I have become a convert to the beauty and practicality of bare wood stairs!

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  60. I am a designer and I would go vertical, serged edge. The horizontal looks strange to me.

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  61. I think vertical is much more sophisticated.
    It seems to be in keeping with your beautiful home.

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  62. The direction is important as you've been told. Carpet should always travel over the nose in its length, the direction in which it was manufactured - not sideways. I'm in the stair runner business, not a fan of natural grass fibers on stairs as far as performance, but the direction question matters no matter the product. Good luck with your project.

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  63. Great post on runner. My favorite material is also sisal. I am currently installing a runner for a summer house in long Island. the owners children walk barefoot throughout the house. i had to select a wool flat weave runner with the look of sisal but soft on the feet. I left only a 2" border between the wall and the runner and finished the edge of the runner with a half inch tone on tone linen border. Runners really do warm up a stairways . I finished a house in the Hamptons last summer and strongly suggested a runner to cover the steps from the first to the 3rd floor as a safety issue for the couple young children. I could not convinced them until I received a desperate call from my client who had slipped down the stairs with her baby in her arms!!

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  64. The runner is just lovely. Thumbs up!

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  65. I absolutely agree, having stair runners can make a staircase really look elegant. :)

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  66. Definitely Vertical! No doubt! I am planning on installing a Sisal runner on my stairs. I am having a hard time finding carpet installers that know how to install Sisal runners. They keep trying to tell me that it won't work and I keep tellin them that it will because I have seen hundreds of pictures online! Can someone please tell me how to install a Sisal stair runner? do you use pad and nail strips or do you glue it down? I wan't it to wrap the lips of the stairs. I think they call it New York style or something like that. Please help! Thanks :-)

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  67. Yes, you really need to install this with the flow of the carpet, otherwise, it won't wrap around the stairnose as well and will not hold up as well. I'm guessing that would be with the diamonds vertically (i.e. looking longer). Visually, the longer length is better and for the area rugs, you should always have the longest length of the diamond following the longer length of the room since it makes the space look larger.

    Nice selections, BTW.

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