Introduction: Baby Proof Cushioned Stair Runners
1 Year Old Newly Walking Child+Tiled Stairs=Certain Death
I woke up this morning to my 1 year old daughter showing me she can now get past the baby gate. She did it 3 times after the first just to make sure that fact sunk in appropriately. The problem I now faced is 3 very treacherous tiled stairs leading into the playroom. We don't want to destroy the tile with a permanent solution like tacking carpeting so plan B came about. Let's find a good dense cushion type of material that we can cut to custom sizes and create a "cover" for the stairs. Mission accomplished!
Step 1: List of Materials
You'll want to have the items listed below to make this project clean and easy.
One table to work on (mine was a 6' pop up)
One flat, solid cutting surface (I used a 6" strip of 3/4" plywood.
I found the anti-fatigue mat material at a Lowes near me. You can buy it by the linear foot and I grabbed 14' of it. (It's 36" wide FYI)
One hot glue gun and some extra hot glue sticks (though I didn't use very much)
One utility knife (the sharper the better)
One metal T-square
One measuring tape
I needed something to prop up the material when I started gluing, I used 1 quart paint cans but anything will work really.
Several glasses of scotch (as evidenced in the photos)
Step 2: Start Cutting!
Once my workstation was set up I was ready to start cutting. One important disclaimer....the machine that cut my 14' roll of material did NOT cut a true right angle. I set up the material and using my T square I cut a thin strip to start with a clean, true and straight edge. Just make sure to apply a good amount of downward pressure on the square once you line up your cut. Using the side of the square as a guide and the utility knife I pulled hard and sliced right through the material cleanly. After that was done I took my first measurement of the floor that would act as the base a.k.a landing zone. Make sure this is long enough to cover a decent amount of space. Mark your measurements with the pencil onto the material. Line up your cut again with the t square, and pull that razor through. After that I cut what would eventually be the lead up piece that sits on the floor at the very top of the stairs.
Step 3: Measure and Cut the Runs
Next up you'll need to measure and cut the runs (read: length) of your stairs. Make sure to measure each run independently as my stairs were different lengths. Very Important note: leave an extra 3/8" to account for the thickness of the material on the rise which you will then later need to glue together (example in the picture of the overhang).
Step 4: Measure and Cut the Rises
Now it's time to cut the vertical rises (read: height).
You can see in the photo with the material cut and laid out that the rises actually sit on top of the run below it. That piece butts up to the bottom of the run above it. I say this because I don't want you to cut a piece too long or too short like I did. Mine were a bit long and needed a very small sliver trimmed off, which was annoying. Measure twice and cut once right?!?
Step 5: Mock It Up to Double Check Your Cuts
Once all pieces were cut I mocked it up to make sure it all lined up. I made a few trims and things looked good.
Step 6: Cut the Second Set of Mats Using the First As Templates
My stairs are crazy wide (62") so I had to cut a second set of the mat to make sure I covered the full width of the stairs. Rather than re-measure everything a second time I slid the mats over to make sure the runs and rises were the same dimensions (since a crappy carpenter or tile guy could have gotten it wrong). I was in luck as it all still fit. Using the first set of pieces I would overlay one on the roll of material and cut my second pieces until I had two sets.
Step 7: Cut to Width
The two pieces were a bit wide for my stairs (look for the overlap in the photo). I decided rather than getting crazy obsessive compulsive and finding the center line and cutting both sides of the mat I would just trim one side to fit and call it a day. So that's what I did. Once cut I mocked it up again to make sure it fit cleanly.
Step 8: Glue It All Up
Time to bust out that hot glue gun and finish the job. I started by gluing the bottom run (landing pad) to the first riser at a 90 degree angle, taking care to insure the riser was on top of the run. Then I worked my way up by gluing each run to the corresponding riser. Once completed I started connecting the now glued pieces together to form one large "runner". I used a small to medium size line of glue spread across the width as close to the edge as possible. When applying pressure, I tried my best to squeeze down the piece I was holding into the glue so that it would spread towards the back of the cover (and hopefully avoid being seen). I used the paint can to keep the risers propped up while I made the initial connection. Another important note...since there are lines on the mat I made sure they stayed in line while gluing the pieces together so everything looked straight.
Step 9: Summary
It was a pretty straight forward project once I had set up the workstation. The cuts went quick and when it was said and done took about two hours total. Careful to keep your lines straight and your glue clean. My little one of course took a spill the very next morning and popped up just fine. I know she'll be over this in a month or two so do a good job but don't make it perfect. Most of all, I hope this helps you and have fun making it!!!