Existing stair treads & risers installed over carpet! Help!

by Lou
We easily discovered that the carpet was not removed by carpenters before installing wood treads and risers years ago in our home. The stairs now need to be repainted but what do we do about the top carpeted riser? Taking the existing treads and riser off are out of question. Specifically, I want to cover or replace the top currently carpeted riser with a wood riser. Another variation would be to have a wood riser along with the end of a wood tread.
Your ideas will be greatly appreciated.
  12 answers
  • Darla Darla on Jul 01, 2016
    You could try to make a riser from 3/8" plywood and paint it, then see if you can install it OVER the carpet with long screws. If you can't do that, you will have to cut the carpet, leaving enough to staple the edge to the old riser, then put on the new one with the new riser hiding the raw bottom edge of the carpet.
  • William William on Jul 01, 2016
    I would cut the carpet, install a riser. Cutting the top of the riser at a 45 could still visually become a tripping hazard. I would glue and nail a half round piece of molding at the front top of the riser to create a bull nose like the rest of the stairs. Lowes, Home Depot, and Menards carry them.
  • Anna M.S. Anna M.S. on Jul 01, 2016
    The carpeting is fairly recent? It doesn't look like it was installed "years ago." Perhaps you will find a bead board riser under the current carpet. I like William's idea of securing the cut carpet to the landing, if I was understanding him correctly.
    • Lou Lou on Jul 01, 2016
      This is the perfect solution Rebecca. Thank you!
  • Daniel Daniel on Jul 01, 2016
    The simplest solution is to cut the carpet riser on the underside of the lip of the stair, and staple it to the underside of the lip. . Check if the riser is paintable, rather than adding to it. It is very important to keep the stairs symmetrical for depth, to avoid variances in height or depth.
    • Lou Lou on Jul 01, 2016
      Great tips to keep the project inline with the overall stairs. Thanks!
  • Lou Lou on Jul 02, 2016
    Great response.
  • Pri4759878 Pri4759878 on Jul 02, 2016
    Home depot sells the re-tread kits in unfinished oak. I used them over top of existing stairs. Easier than replacing the whole stair case. They are sold for one step per package. Polyurethane, stain or paint will finish them to your liking.
  • Pri4759878 Pri4759878 on Jul 02, 2016
    I used clear satin polyurethane on the steps and risers on the home depot re treads.
  • Lou Lou on Jul 02, 2016
    Unfortunately, pre-finished Retreads are too expensive. Additionally, installing unfinished retreads would be a great solution if we insisted on a stained finish. Repair and re-painting is the most economical route. A provided solution for the top riser and tread will solve the biggest issue. Thanks to everyone for your help.
  • I would cut the carpet away from the riser and install something that matches the rest of the risers.

  • Betsy Betsy on Jan 14, 2024

    Hi Lou: I'd leave the carpeted riser as is because it may look a bit weird with the wood sticking out into the carpeted area. You can just tape off the area of carpet where the wood is and then paint. When you're done painting that step, remove the tape before the paint dries or you may pull some paint off with the tape. If you want to remove the piece of carpeting that is vertical, then you would cut it about an inch after the bend and then put a tread strip on the edge and cut any excess off. Personally, I'd just tape and paint :)

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jan 15, 2024

    If it were my place, I would , cut the carpet back to either the top edge of step and fit a hardwood threashold or trim carpet to under front edge of step and use a Hardwood bead and then the beaded trim underneath as you have with the other stairs and decorate to match. The choice is yours really