Do Hallways Need Runners? (Fast Facts)

We’ve got bare wood in our hallway at the moment, but my wife wants to get a couple of runners. However, I’m unsure if they’re really necessary?

Hallways need runners from a practical and design perspective. In the practical sense, runners protect the floor and dampen noise, and from a design point of view they guide your guests down the hallway to a feature room such as a kitchen or living room.

Join us as we consider whether you should put runners in your hallway, and discover in detail how they should be fitted and presented…

Do Hallways Need Runners?

Should I Put a Runner In My Hallway?

Yes! Design experts say most hallways need runners. Some even say runners are a must have. There are a couple of practical reasons to have hallway runners – to protect your floor and to keep noisy hallways quiet.

Hallways take a lot of abuse. They are the highways of your home. Football cleats, skates, paws, work boots, snow boots, walkers and tap dance shoes can all mark up your hallways. Runners help prevent all that damage.

If you have noisy floors, runners in the high traffic areas can be a real ear saver. Consider choosing a thicker – higher pile – runner. 

Another reason to have runners is, let’s face it, halls can be pretty blah aesthetically. An elegant or dramatic runner can transform blah. A runner at the front door welcomes your guests. It introduces your guests to your style and to the atmosphere of the home. 

Runners lead guests to the main room. They make connections. Runners are long, skinny rugs, often lighter in color than the floor.

As such, they pull the eye down the hall, guiding the guest from the front door to a room – maybe the living room or the kitchen. 

If your hallway is a bit cozy, consider choosing a mostly solid, light colored runner. Lighter colors are also better for high traffic areas because they won’t show wear as much as darker colors.

If rooms open up onto the hallway with the runner, make sure the runner will mostly coordinate. The runner doesn’t have to match what’s in the other rooms – just not clash horribly.

If your hallway is wide and well lit, then bright colors and patterns will add interest and style. If you live in a wet climate, consider choosing patterns with darker colors. Dark, multicolor patterns will tend to hide stains (ditto for kitchen runners).

If your hallway is sometimes home to infirm walkers or those with wheelchairs, consider runners with non-slip backing or add a non-slip pad. Also check out lower pile runners. High pile runners are lovely and luxurious, but they may be harder for family members with walkers, canes or wheelchairs.

Of course, if your floors are works of art, you may not want to hide them under runners. That’s OK. Another runner exception is one with tall ceilings and plenty of light. 

Here is an article with photos of hallways – with and without runners.

How Should a Runner Fit a Hallway? (How Wide & Long Should They Be?)

Hallway runners should fit entirely inside the hallway, not extend into other rooms. Runners should not become “rug tacos” – they fold up against the wall because they are just a tiny bit too wide. With a good amount of space all around a hallway runner, your hallway will appear more spacious.

Runners are always rectangular. By definition, a runner is 2.5 to 3 times longer than its width. Most runners have widths of around 2 or 3 feet. Standard lengths run between 6 and 14 feet, usually in two foot increments.

Design experts say that the runner should have 4 to 6 inches of flooring visible all around. If you are in between standard lengths, go with the shorter length. When your runner arrives, center it in the hallway space.

Hallway runners

Start by measuring your hallway, beginning at the front door. Allow for the 4 to 6 inch gap between the front door and the runner, then measure along the length. Allow for 4 to 6 inches at the end, too.

Try not to end the runner in the middle of another doorway. For example, let’s say that the door to the living room is towards the end of the hallway. The runner should extend the entire length of the living room doorway. 

That way, guests stepping from the living room to the hallway don’t have to navigate the end of the runner. If you can’t find a runner that long, then consider shortening it, so it stops before the living room doorway.

If you have doors that open into the hallway, be sure that they are tall enough to clear a runner. If you have a coat closet door that won’t clear the runner, don’t despair – you may be able to trim the bottom of the door to fit, or choose a lower pile runner.

Most front doors open inwards and trimming the bottom may not be a choice. If your front door isn’t tall enough to clear a runner, then start measuring 4 to 6 inches past the open door. That gap will give the door plenty of room to swing and keep the hallway from looking too crowded.

If your hallway has no furniture, then the runner should be centered in the space. If you have a table in the hallway, then center the runner to the table.

Here’s a Rugs USA article on picking hallway runners.

Where Should a Hallway Runner Start?

If your front door clears the runner, then place the runner so that a guest steps onto it easily. Runners look best when they are framed by some empty floor space. Try starting your runner 4 to 6 inches away from the door frame.

Some designers prefer to start the runner farther away from the door – so muddy boots don’t step directly onto it. If your household has a lot of muddy boots, try buying a shorter runner and then centering it in the hallway. That way, muddy boots can be taken off before they get to your beautiful runner.

If your front door opens into the hallway and it won’t clear the height of your runner, then you’ll have to start past where the door swings. Start the runner around 6 inches from where the door swings.

Here’s a video on how to get your new rug to lay flat.

How Much Space Do You Need Between Hallway Runners?

Designers like the look of multiple, same size runners – don’t mix and match the sizes. But if your hallway is so long it will take two or more runners, go for it. Try to keep that 4 to 6 inches of space between runners as a minimum, though.

The most important aspect is that the runners are centered in the space. If you need more than 6 inches between runners to achieve that symmetry, then space out the runners more – up to a foot apart.

Two (or three) smaller runners will be easier to handle and clean than one ginormous runner.

Can You Put a Hallway Runner On An Existing Carpet?

Yup. Any type of rug can be placed on carpet. Putting a runner on hallway carpet will keep your carpet clean and will protect it from all that wear.

Sometimes, though, when you walk on runners on carpets (or any rugs on carpets), the runners tend to walk with you. They slip around. This annoying tendency can be fixed though.

To keep hallway runners from walking around on carpet, you can try rug-on-carpet pads. These pads have a grippy surface to keep the runner in place. Or, you can try special double sided tape or a hook-and-loop fastener.


Usually when it comes to questions of interior design, me and my wife both share our opinions then my wife makes the final decision – so it looks like we’re getting those runners! 😂

Seriously though, now I’ve seen some of the styles she’s considering I’m actually fully on board – not least because it will stop the noise of our kids running down the hall in their soccer boots.

Talk about deafening!