Ripping carpet off stairs

Ruth Anderson
by Ruth Anderson

I want to know how to rip up carpet on my stairs and replace it with wood flooring. I have inquired with Home Depot and Lowes and the quotes to do this seem expensive for something that I think I can do myself. Your thoughts?

This is the carpet on my staircase that I want to replace with wood.
  24 answers
  • Colleen Colleen on Jul 03, 2014
    Before you rip out the whole carpet, check a small area and see what kind of material the steps and risers are made of. This will give you an insight of what lays ahead and what to budget for.
  • Carole Carole on Jul 03, 2014
    Having lived with both carpeted and bare wood stairs I would only say this. If you have small children in the home or elderly people: carpet, if it is fitted properly and has no loose bits is better for kids, the elderly and pets as it is obviously not a slipping hazard as wood might be. We took up our carpet and painted our wooden stairs and our cat slipped and slid everywhere trying to go up the stairs. My grandmother would not walk up the stairs as she did not feel safe (ours were also open tread which added to the hazard though). Just something to bear in mind if you do go ahead and remove the carpet. Having said that, if you want to remove it, I would have a go yourself if you are at all handy at DIY. I also agree with Colleen, test a small area by lifting up a bit of carpet to see what lies beneath!
  • Z Z on Jul 04, 2014
    I agree with testing to see what lies beneath, as it can make a difference how much work you'll need to do. If you're going to paint the risers, you may not have to replace that part, but if the tread overhangs the riser, you'll have some cutting to do in place. Here's another tutorial that could be of great help to you too.
  • Stacy Stacy on Jul 04, 2014
    Rip it up! It is the best thing we did to our foreclosured rescue. I ripped the carpet up, pulled a million staples, and bought stair treads for around $10 each. Cut each stair tread to measure each stair. Apply adhesive. Then screw them down. We used a small head screw. Pre-drill!! Countersink. Then fill holes with wood putty.
    • Nancy Nancy on Jul 04, 2014
      @Stacy We have a problem with our stairs. They are 5 ft wide and most stair tread replacements aren't that wide. I am thinking that laminate might be best for our steps because it wont change the rise and run of the stairs.
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jul 04, 2014
    The problem with taking up the carpet is that the steps are not in good shape. Since most builders know that they are going to carpet, they are not careful with nails, staples, paint splatters so the steps need a LOT of attention. However, I saw a post on HT of some "covers" to put over steps all sanded and pretty. I don't know how to search on the site, but perhaps someone can help you. If you paint, use any color except white! It gets so dirty so fast! I like the idea of treads...I may take up my runner and go for that! Also keep in mind that a little molding here and there can hide a lot of gaps!
    • See 2 previous
    • Z Z on Jul 04, 2014
      @So do I Jeanette. Some forget to check back when they don't get an answer right away. I hope Ruth isn't one of them.
  • Kelly S Kelly S on Jul 04, 2014
    Go for it. You will not regret it. the We did it and everything is so much easier to clean. Photos aren't adding.
  • Kelly S Kelly S on Jul 04, 2014
    The pictures didn't come through. We replaced the osb treads with wood treads purchased from Lumber Liquidators. The treads were cut to fit each stair. Then we cut 1/4" cabinet grade plywood to face or go over the risers. 6 coats of water based floor urethane sealed everything. I put small washable tread rugs purchased from Solutions on the treads because the dog likes to run up and down them. The rugs have a rubber backing and stay put. Both purchase were made on line.
  • Kelly S Kelly S on Jul 04, 2014
    tried the pictures again. Treads and riser material were ash to match the rest of our hardwood flooring.
  • Tanya Lynn Tanya Lynn on Jul 04, 2014
    We took the carpet off our stairs.It was ugly 70's carpet and we knew we had finished wood flooring underneath. To prevent slipping we bought individual carpet stair treads and used carpet tape to secure them.
    • See 2 previous
    • Tanya Lynn Tanya Lynn on Jul 08, 2014
      Thanks! They are original to the house,previous owners covered the living room,lower and upper hallways and stairways with carpeting. So when we ripped it out we were pleasantly surprised at how well the wood floors were preserved.
  • Carmen Carmen on Jul 04, 2014
    Go for it! we did - what was underneath was awful, so DH place a panel on top. Painted the actual step a dark color and the riser white. Still need to cauk or seal the edges - but I love it!
  • From the picture it looks like you like color. I would remove the carpet, and paint them. If the tread material is rough, you could use a self leveling compound or epoxy then paint them. It will look amazing, be affordable, not to mention be a weekend project. Good luck with whatever you decide. Oh and if you decide to apply hardwood to them you will have 2 issues. First you won't be able to match your existing hardwood flooring color, so I would contrast them. Second your transition at the top of the stairs could be an issue and if not addressed properly could cause a trip hazard due to thickness inconsistencies.
  • Kathy LaGasse Kathy LaGasse on Jul 04, 2014
    We took our carpet off and had to get used to the slippery wood. Then we noticed that the dog was afraid going up and down! So back went new carpet for now. For the wood stairs, you can purchase a product called Sharks Skin to sprinkle on the stairs and then polyurthane over for some gripping on the stairs. I'm planning on doing that the next time we take the carpet off!!
  • Barbara Barbara on Jul 04, 2014
    We had Lowes rip out the stairs carpet and replace with Prego. The installer painted the new risers, the steps have a rounded lip to prevent slips, the cost was under $1,000. I love them although I was concerned about slips, but all is fine.
  • Crystal Overbay Crystal Overbay on Jul 04, 2014
    Keep in mind that nice shiny wood steps can be very very slick under stocking feet. I have had many bruised shins and buns slipping on our gleaming wood treds as a kid. Just a thought!
  • Louann Louann on Jul 04, 2014
    I am thinking about doing the same thing..just been to scared..but after reading some of the might just get done this year...I was thinking of painting...
  • Cyndi Moore Tippett Cyndi Moore Tippett on Jul 04, 2014
    IF you tear out the carpet and padding, it will save you money because Home Depot and Lowes charges to do those jobs by the square foot. We just had carpet put in our upstairs and we took out the old carpet and pad... it saved us about a $1. a square foot. Also I didn't put carpet on my stairs, which saved us a bundle. I painted the treads red and the back of the stairs the color of my trim. I love them!!
  • Kim G Kim G on Jul 04, 2014
    I agree with the others, go for it! We built our house 15 years ago. I ripped up my carpet and our stairs were in really bad shape, so we created a little "hat" for each tread using oak plywood. I painted the tread dark brown and then put white wainscote on the risers. I then put 2 coats of high-shine polyeurethane to protect the steps. We love the end result and we get a lot of compliments as they are the first thing you see when you walk in our front door. Good Luck!
  • Jgi308468 Jgi308468 on Jul 04, 2014
    yup, we plan to do this as well. I like the idea of the sharkskin to prevent slipping. also we plan to stencil the risers with rustic pics of fish, bear, deer etc. the treads will be rustic too. good luck with your project. I can't wait to start mine!
  • SusZanne SusZanne on Jul 04, 2014
    Those of you who pulled up your carpet off the steps, where there lots of staples and tack strip...or did you leave that for HD or they charge much to do that? Also the sharkskin sounds great..where do you buy it?
    • K K on Jul 05, 2014
      I too ripped up the carpet myself. Not difficult at all. Wasn't expecting so much dust! Did have a lot of staples but easy to get ot. Now I have chip wood, (? not sure if that's what it's called) underneath. What can I do now!? Really don't want carpet again. Looking for something really different!
  • Shirley Kalinosky Shirley Kalinosky on Jul 08, 2014
    I have an 80's home that my husband built and the old carpet has holes in it in places. It's the only thing in the house that was left from his daughter pulling out "cat-pissed-on" carpet. I would love to redo the stairs underneath with the white risers and stain the tops. I don't know what I will find when I finally pull the carpet, but thanks for the inspirations!
  • Moxie Moxie on Jul 11, 2014
    I took the carpet off mine, painted them and stenciled riser boards for them...just love them (carpet on stairs is always hard to keep clean) you certainly can do it!! Be prepared to remove lots of with store or cabinet maker for custom treads so you don't have to custom fit everything if you can afford to or use wood nosing pieces and infill with the wood flooring.
  • Rex Jones Rex Jones on Jan 11, 2017

    Just a suggestion: maybe regular breathing cover for nose and mouth, maybe eyes. Old carpet can have various types of, well...organisms in the dust that rises. I had some sinus trouble after pulling up just one step. I'm planning on using the ideas posted here, because my stairs need it done !

  • Eroque022810 Eroque022810 on Jan 16, 2017

    Yes cover your face and start at top so dust falls on carpet. Hopefully I will tackle this when husband goes away for a few days. I have Sen on this home talk site where people just painted them and some where they used treads that they ordered. I like color so I will remove staples as I go so I can walk on the ones without carpet. I don't expect it to be easy but with 5 people in a house even though we use slippers they get lint from socks or track in stuff we have wood floors and the dust is unbearable I'm a slave to my Libbey microfiber which is hand washable because you flip it and it becomes a mop. Has largerlength then a swifter so cuts down on work. And must never use soap on it or you ruin it. Anyway I get off track so back to question, go for it. If you want to see what's waiting for you just do one step at bottom to see if you wish to continue with project. I don't think paint will cause great slipper but I've not done this. If it was stained where you need to seal then yes very slippery just run hand over a table. Once you fill holes with wood filler and that's after you have used shop vac or your vacuum to get every thing clean don't use water and soap just vacuum in every corner. And do every other step so you can allow it to dry before you add second coat if needed. The next day it should be dry but check because if it's humid it takes longer if OK to walk on then do other steps. Do risers last so you can use blue tape to not get paint on tread. Look for them here on this site because their were many. Good luck and I'm sure it will be a great experience for you to accomplish something that you have wanted to do.