Asked on Mar 17, 2015

Stairs - removing carpet - Wood or Re-Treads?

Barb Belcher
by Barb Belcher
We're removing the carpet from our stairs as it's dirty and we just can't keep it clean with having a bi-level and it's our main entrance. The top and the bottom of both sets of stairs have or will have laminate flooring. The wood underneath is particle board, so there's not an option to refinishing that. Would you recommend replacing the wood with NEW wood tread and risers? Or placing Re-Treads over the existing treads and placing a new riser on the back? The stringer could give us issues as well - but hoping that we can just paint those and the risers white with brown treads. Any advice out there? Thanks so much!
  12 answers
  • Hard to say with the carpet still on them - what's fully underneath, the condition, how's it attached, etc... While you can paint particleboard it won't last long, I would probably look into popping the existing treads off, adding new, & staining them. The skirt board should easily be able to be painted. The risers, if particle board - maybe paint or if you want to stain like the treads I would look at applying a veneer or real thin piece of wood over them. One item to be careful on is changing the riser heights, it can lead to tripping.
  • Jea1141438 Jea1141438 on Mar 18, 2015
    I would call someone that their specialty is stairs. Replace the the treads and laminate a thin wood on the risers. I like black risers personally but white to match other trim would look good, you could also pull a color out of the new floor.
  • Chic Geek House Chic Geek House on Mar 18, 2015
    I'm about to get into this same project, though I think underneath my stair's carpet is builders pine with a bull nose edge already on it. There are some pretty cool laminate stair tread pieces you can buy online from the big box stores, I've noticed. Some of them come with rounded bull nose edges too. If you don't want to replace the riser, you might be able to get away with putting those thin sheets of crafting hardwood over them with some wood glue (and maybe a brad nailer for extra measure) and painting those.
  • Vicki Vicki on Mar 18, 2015
    It depends on the usage. If you have dogs and kids, the hardwood will scratch - I am speaking from experience. Carpet is much easier on little ones when they tumble. With that said, we removed the carpet from ours and redid the treads with hardwood to match our new floors. The risers were replaced with a lesser wood and painted white to match the sanitary style base and trim.
  • Catherine Catherine on Mar 18, 2015
    I had the same problem with our stairs (laminate at the top, ceramic at the landing and laminate at the bottom in our basement. We tiled our stairs with a wood look ceramic tile - that matched the laminate upstairs and we tiled both the treads and the risers. Much easier to keep clean now than that old carpet. The photo below shows a little of the tile (there is a coordinating inset tile along the edges as well just to fancy it up.
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    • Catherine Catherine on Mar 20, 2015
      @Barb Belcher - Barb we used ceramic tiles that look like wood on our treads but you could also use laminate. We used a stainless steel nosing on the edge of each tread as this matches are door hardware. You can use this type of nosing for laminate as well. In a previous home I used vinly plank flooring that looked like wood with the same stainless stee nosing as well. Both stairs had a square edged treads but you can use either the rounded profile nosing or the square profile.
  • Barbara Barbara on Mar 18, 2015
    I just don't think there is anything better than good wood. It will last forever if cared for properly, but as another poster indicated, tough on little kids if they tumble. It's a matter of personal preference. I have teenagers and they take the stairs two or three at a time, or opt for the banister! I have carpet now, cleaing is a pain, but I'll opt for hardwood when the kids are all off to college. Our wood trim is all white, so I'd paint the risers in white or a color to match your existing baseboards.
  • I just refinished my stairs. Everybody's needs are different. Just read and ask lots of questions before you decide. Here's the link to things I learned and how they turned out ... @Susie @ The Chelsea Project Blog on Hometalk... 10 Tips for a Successful Step Redo....Good luck.
  • I just checked and I do have a board called Staircase Redos over at Susie @Susie @ The Chelsea Project Blog .....Good luck.
  • Kate Piner Kate Piner on Mar 18, 2015
    i WILL NEVER AGAIN HAVE CARPET ON STAIRS. We removed carpet and painted the stairs off white. Then we painted a taupe tread. We love it and everyone who sees it comments on how great it looks. I "dust" it with a damp cloth once a week. Easier than lugging a vacumn up and down and much cleaner..
  • Jean Thompson Jean Thompson on Mar 19, 2015
    Painted Treads are apt to be slippery, just about fell down at friends Home because of painted wood Treads.. They had to install the non skid tread strips...on each step.
  • Moxie Moxie on Mar 19, 2015
    I hear a lot of people talk about slippery wood stairs; but I have never slipped on mine and there is a handrail for those less sure footed. Actually, I often slipped on my stairs when they had carpet..go figure. I would pull the carpet, be prepared to pull out a couple hundred staples by hand, one by one...I would put new pine paint grade treads and use sign board for the risers. I would stencil the riser boards and paint (and poly) the treads and stringers the same color and add fancy wood trim above he stingers. I luv mine! Enjoy the process whatever you do and good luck! Here are pics of my redone stair ( 2 sets, both a little different) to get you thinking
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  • Debbie Gartner Debbie Gartner on Jan 19, 2017

    can r The best option, assuming you can afford it, is to replace the particle with solid wood stair treads, and you should do this with a professional stair place. (most flooring companies do not do this work as it is tricky. They need to remove the treads and insert the new treads into the stringers. I would make risers white as it's more stylish, adds light and will save you some money.

    This is the best looking, safest and longest lasting options. Also, if it's done right, you won't have creaking. Ideally, you can also add a carpet runner for safety (and decor).

    Hardwood is most popular and can be refinished many times (will probably last for 100+ years (maybe even 200). It is the most beautiful and will help you with resale value. It's easy to change the color (if you refinish or change the color on either level of the home. You can add a runner or leave bare.

    I would NEVER do tile (as that is very unsafe and hard on your feet and hard on your back, especially if someone falls...and it probably will happen at some point). Tile is also likely to crack a few years down the road due to vibrations. It's also very bad for resale value. Also, it doesn't look nice at the edges.

    I would try to avoid laminate as it's a floating floor and not very safe. I'd avoid vinyl as it looks cheap.

    You could do wood stair caps, but these are still generally expensive and edges often don't match up and they can cause tripping hazards. They also don't last as long, and yes, I have seen people sand through them and need to replace them (which isn't cheap).

    Alternatively, if you can't afford to do this right, then I would paint the particle board (e.g. white) and then add a carpet runner for safety, decor and to make sure the paint lasts.

    You can read more about carpet runners here.

    You'll also see that more people prefer white for the risers.