Updating Stairs Chapter One: Removing Carpet and Staples, Solving Problems

Happy Monday, guys! I hope your weekend was fantastic – ours was BUSY. We decided it was time for updating stairs, which means I pulled about 7,000 staples out. My hands hurt a little bit as I type this and I have more than a few splinters. We made tons of progress on our stair renovation though, which is part of us replacing close to 900 square feet of carpeting with bamboo flooring.

 

Our stairs had ugly carpet on them, which we've now ripped out. 7,000 staples later, and we're left with the bare wood. We're adding bamboo treads and new plywood risers to update the look, and I'm also dreaming about carpet runners. Demo day is usually the most fun, but definitely not when staples are involved. Plus, we had a bit of an issue with our original plan, which I explain how I fixed.

This is what our stairway looked like when we moved in. Nothing wrong with it, but it sure wasn’t pretty. There were stains I just couldn’t get out. Since we would have had a floating stairwell of carpet in between the tile downstairs and the wood upstairs, it needed to be replaced with something.

Our stairs had ugly carpet on them, which we've now ripped out. 7,000 staples later, and we're left with the bare wood. We're adding bamboo treads and new plywood risers to update the look, and I'm also dreaming about carpet runners. Demo day is usually the most fun, but definitely not when staples are involved. Plus, we had a bit of an issue with our original plan, which I explain how I fixed.

Aaron and I have always loved the look of wood/white stairs like this, this, and this. Since we had a little flooring leftover from our project upstairs, we decided to go with bamboo for replacing the carpet. This is what we have been living with for the past nine (!) months.

Our stairs had ugly carpet on them, which we've now ripped out. 7,000 staples later, and we're left with the bare wood. We're adding bamboo treads and new plywood risers to update the look, and I'm also dreaming about carpet runners. Demo day is usually the most fun, but definitely not when staples are involved. Plus, we had a bit of an issue with our original plan, which I explain how I fixed.

I basically laid the flooring all the way up to the top step so we could come back later and finish it, and this weekend we finally started that project. We ripped up the carpet by first cutting a strip away from the top and basically just ripping it out. You need gloves for this since there’s tackstrip, but it’s a pretty easy job otherwise. Just gross. 20 years of dirt is just nasty, no matter how well you clean your home.

The wood underneath was super pretty left something to be desired. Once we ripped the carpet off, it was time to pull out staples. I actually liked using some rusty old wire cutters for this since they were too dull to cut the carpet staples but grippier than any other tool I could find. Basically, you just need anything that will grab. I used a ‘dig underneath, twist, pull’ motion to get most of them out, and it worked for even the most stubborn ones.

Our stairs had ugly carpet on them, which we've now ripped out. 7,000 staples later, and we're left with the bare wood. We're adding bamboo treads and new plywood risers to update the look, and I'm also dreaming about carpet runners. Demo day is usually the most fun, but definitely not when staples are involved. Plus, we had a bit of an issue with our original plan, which I explain how I fixed.

After we got the staples out and the tack strip up, it was time to put the first step on. I hooked the flooring piece to the existing floor upstairs and glued it down using Liquid Nails. Most contractors recommended to use either Liquid Nails or another type of construction adhesive, but I’ve also seen some people recommend wood glue on construction forums as well. We had it on hand, so I was happy to try it out. I also bought a tube of subfloor adhesive to use when the Liquid Nails runs out, so I’m interested to see how the two compare.

Anyway, I glued it down, and threw in the new plywood board I cut to size to create the new stair riser. Then, I cut and placed the cove trim, and taped everything together to make sure it would stay in place while it dried. I wasn’t sure the cove trim would work with just glue since it was working against gravity unlike the edge piece that connected to the floor, but I gave it a shot. Verdict – it was a no go. Half of it stayed glued, but the other half is ready to fall off. Time to go buy a nail gun, I suppose.

Our stairs had ugly carpet on them, which we've now ripped out. 7,000 staples later, and we're left with the bare wood. We're adding bamboo treads and new plywood risers to update the look, and I'm also dreaming about carpet runners. Demo day is usually the most fun, but definitely not when staples are involved. Plus, we had a bit of an issue with our original plan, which I explain how I fixed.

While that dried, it was time to solve another challenge. I had the same issue that Kelly over at Lilypad Cottage was dealing with during her stair renovation. Each one of our steps had a lip or edge on it, and our replacement flooring didn’t cover it. You can kind of see what I’m talking about in the picture above on the second step down (the one without tape on it). I am also using cove trim underneath each step, but I don’t have the patience to trim off each and every step like she did. I seriously respect and admire her for doing it, though!

Our stairs had ugly carpet on them, which we've now ripped out. 7,000 staples later, and we're left with the bare wood. We're adding bamboo treads and new plywood risers to update the look, and I'm also dreaming about carpet runners. Demo day is usually the most fun, but definitely not when staples are involved. Plus, we had a bit of an issue with our original plan, which I explain how I fixed.

My solution? Paint. See, the overhang from the new flooring + the cove trim almost covers the entire lip of each step. Maybe a 1/8″ is left showing? Not enough that it’s worth it to me to cut the whole thing off. So I bought a $2 test pot of paint that matches the color of the new flooring and painted the edge of each lip. You’ll never see it from a regular walking angle, and most of it is going to be covered in a stair runner anyway. After some paintable caulk, it’ll blend right in.

Our stairs had ugly carpet on them, which we've now ripped out. 7,000 staples later, and we're left with the bare wood. We're adding bamboo treads and new plywood risers to update the look, and I'm also dreaming about carpet runners. Demo day is usually the most fun, but definitely not when staples are involved. Plus, we had a bit of an issue with our original plan, which I explain how I fixed.

Here’s where we are now. Oh, and that outline around each step? That’s gold paint. I wasn’t kidding when I said our entire house had gold trim when we bought it. I actually remember during the inspection, there were people there painting everything beige to cover up the gold.

This project is taking quite a bit longer than I thought. The first two steps on the top of the stairs had a removeable lip, which meant I could just pry it off and replace it with a new board, but that changed three steps down. Home improvement loves throwing curve balls, especially after you’ve started and planned for a project. Oh well, I try to take it in stride! I think my solution will work pretty well.

We’ve got fourteen steps to de-carpet, which means we’ve got 8 more to go. It took us about 4 hours to rip all the carpet off and staples out of the 6 steps we’ve done so far. With a 3 month old, 4 solid hours of work doesn’t really exist, so it was more like all weekend. But we made progress! It doesn’t matter how long it took. I plan on getting the rest removed this week and finishing soon.

In the meantime, I’m dreaming about carpet runners. There are some seriously pretty ones out there! I’m obsessing over this one, but I can’t find a source. What did you guys work on this weekend? Was it busy like ours or relaxing (jealous!)? Tell me all about it!

Comments

  1. I do NOT know why I bother talking to my laid-back son! I’m sure he talks you down out of your tree when he comes home (as Michael does me), but when I asked him what was going on with you guys he said, “Yeah, we’re pretty busy.” It took a lot of questioning to get the BUY-OUT out of him!! And I guess he just kinda forgot about the stairs. Well, at least he parents like me – LOL! For future kiddos consider planning in custom baby-gates at top and bottom. Are you sold on a runner? Just askin’ because I know what big dogs do to stairs. I’m seriously considering doing our first flight down in tobacco sticks. Oh, and I’ll be SO INCREDIBLY JEALOUS if you get a nail gun!! The first electric chainsaw be bought there was NOTHING below six feet in our yard! It felt GREAT!!

    1. I like the idea of naked stairs, but Aaron is worried Tabby will fall on them without a runner. We’ll see lol. Bought the nail gun today – we need it for the trim, and it’s the only way I can fathom doing all the baseboards. I’m jealous of your chainsaw! Aaron is worried I’ll get hurt so he won’t let me buy one 😂

  2. I am so impressed how much you got done with a little one! We plan on tackling our steps within the next 3/4 weeks. This was super helpful. I am sooooo dreading the staples! I like your method though. And the bamboo floors you installed are gorgeous! I can’t wait to see the finished product!

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