Replacing Your Carpeted Stairs With Wood.
Stairs receive a lot of traffic and, unfortunately, many types of carpet do not weather excessive traffic. Carpet wears out on stairs and needs replacement fairly quickly. The 3 most impractical areas for carpet in your home are bathrooms, kitchen and stairs. While being the Best Carpet Cleaner in Boulder, CO 80304, the most filthy and worn carpet I see in my client’s homes is usually ALWAYS on their stairs. Whether your carpeted stairs are worn out or if you are just tired of looking at that dirty carpet, replacing carpet with wood is a smart and attractive investment.
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1. Remove the carpet from the entire stairway. Start at the top stair as carpet is installed from top to bottom. Begin at a corner between tread and riser, pull the carpet back with a pair of pliers. In some cases, you may be able to pull the carpet all the way down the entire stair case. Some installers use carpet scraps to do the stairwell, however, so you might need to pull another corner with the pliers if the stairs are not all one piece of carpet. Continue until all carpet is removed.
2. Now you will have a layer of carpet pad/cushion. Use needle-nose pliers to pull staples from the carpet pad. Remove the pad and use a putty knife to remove any remaining carpet padding and to scrape pieces of padding loose. There will usually be residual staples left in the wood from the pad– be sure to remove all of them with pliers.
3. Tack strip that held the carpet in place will now need to be removed. Take a 3 or 4 inch pry bar and place a piece of cardboard behind it and the wood surface. This will protect the wood from marring. Gently work the pry bar under the wood strip to loosen the strip nail by nail.
4. Use a vacuum to sweep away small pieces of the padding and other debris from the carpet removal process. Sand the surfaces of the riser and the tread of each step. Sand until you no longer see any marks from any carpet glue or staples.
5. If you decide to go the economical route, simply paint the existing wood treads with a durable paint. I’ve done this in the past with attractive results with a dark brown paint (3 coats) for treads and hand rail and white paint for the risers and spindles. Touching up the paint is needed only about every 2 years of normal family wear and tear. I’ve also seen it done lately, when doing my job as the Best Carpet Cleaner in Boulder, CO 80304, with bright colors in my client’s homes and this has a real cheery effect on their home’s atmosphere.
6. If you are going the hardwood retread route- Cut off the front overhang on each step's tread to allow installation of a hardwood tread. Using a simple power saw (a sawzall, Skil saw or even a jig saw can work) is the easiest way to remove this overhang.
7. Wipe the treads and risers with a tack cloth to remove sanding dust. Paint or stain the risers of each step and allow them to dry overnight.
8. Measure the each step’s width and length, numbering them from bottom stair to top. They will vary in size. Write down the measurements. Take them with you to purchase your precut, prefinished hardwood stair retreads to match the dimensions of your stair treads. Obviously, if you finish the treads yourself they’ll cost less– usually about $15 less per tread. This will save you about $200 in tread cost. But keep in mind, finishing each hardwood tread is a real pain in the keester and having it done for you may be well worth the exra cost!
9. Attach the new hardwood retreads onto the original base treads of the stairs, starting with lowest stair (what else will you stand on for installing stair #2?) Take tread #1 and apply construction glue, install, then add a few 2 1/2" spiral finishing nails, from the top face, to hold it in place. The glues today are great, and offer enough strength to hold the steps in place. When the glue dries, remove nails and fill holes with a matching wood filler stick.
Congratulations! You’ve now made your home both more attractive and more practical. Carpeted stairs get dirtier faster than any other carpeted area in your home. Stair carpet also becomes unsightly because it wears faster than any other area in your home as your feet slide on the stair edges countless times per day, grinding the carpet fibers down. Carpeted stairs can also become slippery both from wear as well as from deinstallation from the stair treads over time. Enjoy your attractive wood stairs!