Hollywood Vs. Waterfall Stair Runners: What’s The Difference?

So, it has come to that part of home renovation that you may have been looking forward to or dreading covering.

Hollywood Vs. Waterfall Stair Runners: What’s The Difference?

The stairs. Perhaps one of the most awkward parts of a home is that you can renovate it for yourself.

Fortunately, you’re a couple of steps ahead by this point. You’ve measured them out for a new carpet, you’ve got a beautiful new carpet material for them, and you’re ready to begin.

However, there is one step that you still need to decide on before beginning this part of your home’s rejuvenation: How do you want the stair runner to look?

Why A Stair Runner Is Important

This is a small decision that can have pretty big consequences for how your stairs appear when looking at them.

And considering that the stairs are often one of the first parts of your home that you see when entering, they can have a big impact on first impressions.

Needless to say, getting this step right is pretty important!

In terms of stair runner designs, you have two options easily available for you: You can go with either Hollywood Stair Runners, or go for a Waterfall stair runner effect.

Which one should you choose? Well, that’s where this guide comes in to help you out!

We’re going to explain what these two designs are exactly, what they add to your home, and what they may take away, before coming to a conclusion that can help you make a final decision.

There’s plenty to cover, so let’s get started!

Why Do I Want Carpet On My Stairs At All?

This is an important question to consider, as many people who are renovating may find that they enjoy a more bare-bones approach to their home renovations, especially on wooden stairs that have aged just the right amount to get that charm right.

Plus, it cuts down on costs and time too!

Now, this is a reasonable option to consider when renovating your stairway, and shouldn’t be discarded immediately.

However, there are some very good reasons that you’ll want to consider carpeting over going all-natural with your stairs.

Safer For Falls

This is especially important if you have younger kids, elderly adults, people with chronic health issues, or even just want to avoid injuries in general.

Carpeting doesn’t just look great, but also offers that little extra protection to people if they slip and start falling down the stairs.

It might not seem like it, but there’s a pretty big difference between falling on a carpet and falling straight on the tough hardwood!

So, carpeting is as much a small safety feature as it is a design choice!

Protects From Scratches & Wear-And-Tear

This next point is not so much for the safety of the people using the stairs, but for the long-term health of the stairs themselves!

Exposed wood, no matter how tough it is, can still be scratched up very easily, especially with no carpet to shield it.

Even light nicks that wouldn’t have registered under a carpet can easily cause a noticeable effect on bare wooden planks.

Even if you manage to avoid all scratches somehow, you still can’t protect your staircase wood from the general wear and tear of people using them.

Being constantly used will affect the overall appearance of your wooden planks, especially in the case of materials like hardwood.

Hollywood Vs. Waterfall Stair Runners: What’s The Difference?

Muffles Sound Better

We all know the trope in a horror flick. How noisy are some of the wooden floorboards in those films?

Joking aside, the constant sound of shoes hitting wood and creaking can become frustrating very quickly, especially in rooms near the staircase.

Even something as simple as a little carpeting goes a long way to muting this annoying noise. Not only are there no hard sounds, but the carpet will absorb a lot of sounds anyway.

Keep these factors in mind when deciding on the final look you want your stairs to have.

What Is A Waterfall Stair Runner?

We’ll start this guide with arguably the more traditional method of running a carpet down your stairs, the waterfall stair runner.

As we implied, this is a style of carpeting for your stairs that goes back a little further than its counterpart.

There are many records of people using this style of carpeting in their homes in the 19th century and has stayed popular since then.

As the name implies, the effect that this design creates is that of a cascading waterfall, as if the carpet itself is pouring down your stairs from floor to floor, creating a single consistent look.

What Is A Hollywood Stair Runner?

Next up, we have the waterfall’s direct counterpart and stylish competition, the Hollywood Stair Runner.

This particular style of furnishing gets its name from the fact that this carpeting method ad style was (reportedly) used in Hollywood on stairways to film sets.

A few alternate names for this style include the contoured stair runner or the French capped stair runner

Unlike the waterfall stair runner, which simply flows over the lip or edge of a step, the Hollywood-style stair runner is tacked underneath the edge itself as it runs down, creating a clear outline of the contour of the stairs themselves as they run down.

Perfect for movie stars!

Pros & Cons For Hollywood Stair Runners


  • Simply from looking at this design, the clear contouring of the stair lip shows that this stair runner creates a more tailored effect that works well in a variety of interior designs, especially more modern ones.
  • If you are using a carpet that is a simple solid color, or a small to a mid-sized pattern, this is a great way of adding a little variety to the visual language of the stair designs.


  • As you might imagine, making sure that the contours are correctly fitted can take noticeably longer.
  • If your carpet has a more intricate pattern, the contouring may spoil its overall look of it.

Pros & Cons For Waterfall Stair Runner


  • Great for going for a more traditional, natural look.
  • This also works a lot better for thicker carpets that may have difficulty benign fitted with the Hollywood style.
  • Great for creating long-running patterns up and down your stairs.


  • While this style won’t make a single-color carpet look bad, it could leave it looking a little basic.

Final Thoughts – Which Stair Runner Is For You?

So, which style should you choose for your stairs? Well, that depends on your aim.

If you’re looking to make a thin, single-color piece of carpet look great, you should go for the Hollywood style.

If your carpet pattern is long and intricate, however, you should consider the Waterfall style.

Johnathon Gooder
Latest posts by Johnathon Gooder (see all)