Carpet-to-wood stair treads

Stairs 04
I can’t say there was particularly anything wrong with our staircase. It just lacked a little style. We had added berber carpet to our entire home approximately 7 or 8 years ago. It had help up fairly well, considering we have a 6 year old boy and everything that comes along with him. But the staircase carpet was starting to show a trail. Well, 2 actually, right up the entire thing. You could see the path that every person took walking up and down our stairs. It was a little matted down, and not quite as bright as the remainder of the carpet on the treads. And god knows, vacuuming staircases isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do.

Inspiration

Inspiration pic


So one day, I happened to be poking around on Pinterest and I came across this really pretty staircase redo. It became my inspiration. Although, my initial plan was to do lighter treads. I figured the dark treads would be a nightmare because they would show a lot of dust.

I figured, how hard could that be? You pull off the carpet, see what’s underneath, and either stain it (if it’s decent), or paint it (if it’s not). So I mentioned it to my other half that night, to which, he nodded and said “yeah, whatever you want.” And with that note of encouragement, I was off and running. The very next morning, right after breakfast, I started ripping. And ripping, and ripping. To do all 14 steps, and the bottom landing, it took about an hour. But when you add in all the stops (can you get me something to eat?, can you come look at my legos?, can you find my socks?), it took a couple of hours.

The process involved 1) Prying the carpet up at the corners, (use gloves so the staples don’t get ya!). I used a cats paw to get the corner up without damaging anything. Then grab with both hands and start pulling. 2) Remove all the padding. This should be easy to pull up, it’ll just be stapled down around the corners. 3) Now pry out all the staples. Luckily, I had just bought an upholstery staple remover, and it popped out all those bad boys in seconds! If you don’t have a staple remover, try a flat head screwdriver and some needlenose pliers. 4) Next up, sanding the treads smooth and filling any holes. 5) Lastly, choose your poison. Mine was supposed to be a driftwood stain, but it showed too many of the imperfections in the pine so I ended up with Ebony stain and several coats of satin poly.

Starting out

Starting out

Get under the corner

Get under the corner

Suprise - bullnosed treads!

Suprise – bullnosed treads!

Removing the pad

Removing the pad

Prying off the tack strips

Prying off the tack strips

My handy dandy staple remover

My handy dandy staple remover

Filling the holes

Filling the holes

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw what was underneath. Nice bullnosed pine treads. I can definitely work those!

Next, after sanding (which is a HUGE, MESSY, project), I prepped the treads for staining with some painters tape. Warning, you’ll be vacuuming and wiping sawdust off of everything in close proximity, unless you’re able to cover everything with plastic.

Prep work

Prep work

After sanding all the treads smooth and cleaning off all of the sawdust, I started staining. Typically, when going for a weathered, driftwood look, I have a multi step process. It starts with Driftwood stain from Rustoleum (Color 260155). I then add a coat of Dark Walnut by Minwax, then one more coat of Driftwood on top. If only I had paid better attention I would’ve had some kick ass driftwood stairs. But my 6 yr old son stayed home from school sick and I was preoccupied by both him and my work-from-home husband all day. If one of them wasn’t bothering me, then it was the other one. They ended up confusing me just enough that I grabbed the Rustoleum Kona stain (instead of Minwax Dark Walnut), for my 2nd coat. If any of you are familiar with stain colors you’ll know that Kona is a super rich, dark dark dark (almost black) brown. So when I added that over the driftwood, then added another coat of driftwood on top, it turned into dark gray. Not at all what I was going for. Although it was still pretty, the gray really didn’t match anything else in my house, and certainly not the Ebony stained hand rail. So I bit the bullet and added Ebony on top of the gray mess. It just so happened that I had a ton of Poly/Stain mix leftover from the handrail project so I grabbed that and got started.

Driftwood stain, 1st coat

Driftwood stain, 1st coat

2nd coat, Kona

2nd coat, Kona

Driftwood again, 3rd coat

Driftwood again, 3rd coat

Once I was finally satisfied with the color it was time to start on the landing and the risers. By now it was the weekend and my handy husband was free to help – thank god!! Although I can operate the power saws, I never trust my measurements so I like to leave those to him whenever possible. Especially since nothing in our house seems to be square and if it’s not square then it’s a total mystery to me.

Phil started out, removing the landing, by cutting it out with his circular saw. He cut some diagonal lines across it and removed everything that he could. That was, until he smelled smoke and realized that by cutting through a nail, a spark had flown into his sawdust catching bag attached to the saw, lit on fire, and was rapidly turning to ashes. It startled him enough that he flung it into the air, simultaneously spewing little chunks of fire-y ashes all over our berber carpet at the foot of the stairs. Yes, you heard me correctly, he lit our carpet on fire. Luckily I had laid down several of our beach towels, just to keep all the dirty tools off of the carpet, and this forethough kept the problem from being much much worse. But sadly all of the towels are now part of our shop towel collection! Sigh. Well, I wanted wood floors at some point anyway LOL.

Porter Cable bag turned to ashes

Porter Cable bag turned to ashes

Holes in the carpet

Holes in the carpet

Holes at the bottom of the stairs

Holes at the bottom of the stairs

Problem solved!

Problem solved!

After all the fire excitement settled down, he managed to not only remove the old landing, but to make a rather nice replacement landing for me. He did that by biscuit joining together some 1″ planking and then dropped the entire piece in place at the foot of the stairs. The result? Awesome!

The unfinished landing

The unfinished landing

The finished landing

The finished landing

Last but not least, the risers. We bought some beadboard wainscot panels from Home Depot for this part. Phil cut them down to size and simply glued them on. And voila, done!

The entire project was not quite as quick as I had originally thought….5 different attempts at stain, setting our carpet on fire, etc., but the end result was well worth it. Would I do it again? Heck ya.

About Kristen Buckley

Kristen is a transplanted Bostonian who loves North Carolina and can't even imagine living anywhere else. She has been restoring furniture her whole life and has recently found the time to expand beyond just doing it for her own home.

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