In this DIY article, I show you how to replace carpet stairs with wood. This easy DIY project is the cheapest way to give your staircase a makeover.
Most people with carpet stairs want them replaced.
Carpeted stairs are difficult to clean and an eye sore.
Even worse, carpet traps dust mites, pet dander, cockroach allergens, mold spores, dirt and dust.
All of which pose a serious health concern.
So today, I show you the easiest and cheapest way to replace carpet on stairs.
Additionally, my method allows you to match your existing hardwood floors.
- Stair Measuring Jig
- Table Saw
- Dewalt Trim Router
- 1/2″ roundover bit
- Liquid Nail Adhesive
- Wood Stain
- Wood Stain Sealer
- Cordless Brad Nailer
There are several things which are difficult to fully explain with words and images, so be sure to check out the video tutorial below.
Ideas for Stairs Instead of Carpet
First, I explored many stair makeover ideas.
All options were too expensive for redoing stairs from carpet to wood.
Additionally, I wanted my stairs to match my new hardwood flooring in my home.
Keep in mind, the hardwood flooring dealer tried to sell me stair treads and risers to match my flooring.
However, those were outrageously expensive.
So, I figured out the cheapest way to replace carpet on stairs using the same bamboo flooring in my home.
Stair Tread and Riser
My family and I sold this home not too long after I completed this project.
Luckily, I kept about 40 square feet of the bamboo flooring I used.
So, I built a stair tread/riser to demonstrate my method.
The stair is 36″ wide, 11″ deep, and 6.75″ high with a 1″ bullnose.
Also, these measurements are close to the typical stair size.
Obviously, the bullnose represents the part of the tread that hangs over the riser.
I used 6 pieces of the bamboo flooring on the mock stair. Each piece of bamboo flooring is 3.75″ wide and 36″ long.
Replace Carpeted Stairs with Wood Cost
First, I did a quick price comparison to replace carpet stairs with wood to show you the cost savings of using hardwood floor vs the matching stair treads/risers.
- Width: 36″
- Tread: 10” minimum depth
- Risers: 7” high, no more than 7 3/4”
The Stair Size
- Tread (48”x11”) = 3.67 square feet
- Riser (48”x7”) = 2.33 square feet
- Total Square feet = 6 square feet
Hardwood Floor Price
- The Price per Square foot = $1.99
- Price per stair (tread & riser) = $11.94
- Price per stair (tread & riser) with waste = $18.21
- Waste = 2 feet per board @ 5 boards per stair (tread & riser)
Hardwood Stair Tread and Riser Price
- The Price for Stair Tread ONLY: 69.99
- Price for Stair Riser ONLY: 34.99
- Price per stair (tread and riser) = $105.00
Remove Carpet from Stairs
The first step to replace carpet stairs with wood is to remove the carpet, carpet padding, and other hardware (staples, nails, etc.).
Keep in mind, this process can be time consuming, but it is important to get a flat surface that is free of debris.
First, use a box cutter to cut the edge of the carpet & padding on each stair.
Ultimately, this made it easy to roll-up the carpet and discard it.
A flat head screw driver and a hammer are needed to remove the staples.
Determine the length of your bullnose at the end of your stair tread.
Next, use a jig saw or circular saw to trim the bullnose off so that the tread and riser are flush (90 degree angle).
If your stairs have a wall on either side, you will not be able to remove the entire bullnose.
Then, trim as much as you can and cut the rest with a hand saw or with a hammer/chisel.
This doesn’t need to be perfectly flush – just get it as close as you can.
Keep in mind, the imperfections will be covered up at a later step.
Gather enough wood for the risers so that it is flush or slightly taller than the stair.
It cannot be shorter than the thickness of your flooring.
If your flooring is 1/2″ thick, the boards must be within 1/2″ of the top of your tread. In my case, it was 2 boards.
Next, attach the boards together and place the attached boards up against the riser portion of your stair.
If the boards are slightly taller than your tread, you will want to trim off equal amounts off the top and bottom of the boards.
This makes them flush and the seam between the pieces falls in the middle.
Keep in mind, make the boards flush or slightly shorter than the top of the tread.
Before you trim the boards, make sure to mark the boards where they need to be cut with a pencil.
Keep in mind, it is very easy to forget which side of the board needs to be cut.
You can use a table saw or circular saw with a straight edge to rip the boards.
After you cut the boards to size, make sure they fit on the riser.
Also, it is ok for them to be a little short, but not shorter than the thickness of the wood.
As a quick tip, complete all the risers before moving to the treads.
Obviously, this will save you time and allow you to get into a rhythm.
Gather enough wood for the treads so that it extends over the riser the amount that your bullnose needs to be.
I needed a total of 3 boards in my example.
If your bullnose is 1″, make sure your boards for your tread hang over your riser at least 1″.
Take the measure of the tongue/groove at the end of the board.
This measurement will need to be added.
For example, you want a 1″ bullnose & the groove of the board is 1/4″.
So, make sure you have at least 1 1/4″ of overhang.
Next, make a pencil mark on the end of the board that hangs over the riser.
Then, remove it and trim off the tongue or groove using your table saw or circular saw.
Lastly, get a scrap or an extra full-length board and repeat the process again on this board.
Stair Measuring Jig
The walls on either side of the staircase will most likely not be square to your stairs.
Keep this in mind when measuring the width of your risers/treads.
If you plan to use moulding around your stairs, you don’t need to concern yourself with this.
However, you may want to invest in a stair measuring jig.
This tool measures the exact angle of the wall & stair.
In turn, it helps you to transfer this measurement to your saw to ensure your stairs fit snugly to the wall.
Create Tread Bullnose
If your boards are 1/4″ thick, use a 1/4″ roundover bit.
Then, I used a router table in this step, but this is not needed.
Also, clamping the pieces down and using a router with your hand will work just as well.
Once each board has a roundover, place them together and make sure the boards make a bullnose when put together.
Place the board that goes on the end of the tread and measure the distance from the riser to the end of the roundover with a combination square.
Use this measurement to rip the excess from the other board that was rounded over leaving the side that was rounded over.
This piece will be attached to the underside of the top tread to make the bottom part of the bullnose.
Remove the top/bottom piece that make up the bullnose from the stair tread and bring it to your garage or workshop.
Use wood glue to glue the top/bottom of the bullnose together, clamp the pieces, and let it dry overnight.
Make sure the top/bottom pieces do not slide back or forward when tightening the clamps.
Next, remove the clamps and inspect the middle of the bullnose.
If there are gaps in the bullnose seam, mix wood glue and saw dust from cutting these boards into a putty-like consistency.
Then, fill the gap with this mixture and let dry for a few hours.
Stain & Seal Bullnose
Finally, the last step is to find a suitable wood stain that matches your wood.
This step may involve some trial and error to get the color right.
You can mix wood stains &/or apply multiple coats to achieve your desired color.
Apply the stain and let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Next, apply a sealer to the bullnose with a finish that matches your wood.
If your wood has a high gloss finish, use a high-gloss sealer.
Also, use a flat/matte sealer if your wood has a flat/matte finish.
Ultimately, this will help maintain consistency between the bullnose and surface of the wood.
The process to secure the tread/riser are the same.
I used liquid nail and applied it liberally to the bare wood on the tread/riser in a wave pattern.
Next, I repeated the pattern in the opposite direction to increase coverage.
Then, I joined the boards together and secured the seam with a piece of painter’s tape that ran perpendicular on the board.
I pushed the boards down until I felt a suction and wiggled them in place.
Finally, I nailed them with my brad nailer with 1″ nails.
I used 6 brads on the riser and 6 brads on the treads.
In conclusion, thank you for taking the time to read this post about how to replace carpet stairs with wood.