Under $100 Carpeted Stair To Wooden Tread Makeover DIY


Under $100 Carpeted Stair To 

Wooden Tread Makeover DIY

contributed by Cleverly Inspired


Under $100 Carpeted Stair To Wooden tread makeover DIY copy

 Phase 1 

For about a year I have been thinking about redoing our stairs. Should I?Can I? Would I dare? Rip up carpet??

Almost 7 years of wear….stains that can’t come up…

 I just don’t know. It would be the largest project I have ever done. The hubs was completely behind me.” you can totally do that. It is just carpet. It the wood is bad we will deal with it. Go for it!”
So I did. And here is how it went down…. By the way, thanks for the support. It sure does make a girl feel good!!

Tools needed for ripping the carpet….

Needle nose pliers are your best friend for getting carpet off of steps….
Starting at the corners and pulling with all your might… 
I pulled about 3 steps at a time, rolling the carpet as I went up the stairs. Then I used a sharp razor knife and cut the carpet and took it outside. Continuing on this way until I got to the top….
At the top, I cut the carpet with an extra sharp razor knife…leaving the carpet on the rounded part of the top thread where the upstairs hall starts. Pull up all the carpet pad….
To take up all the carpet tack strips, just place a flat head screw driver under the strip—tap in with the hammer and gently pry it up. Keep moving the screwdriver until the tack strip comes up. Do this same technique with all the 3,567,987 million staples….
Ok, maybe not quite that many….but it sure felt like it! I saved them in a solo cup…then I sat with a nice glass of red wine and admired my hard work!!! Phase one complete! Money spent during phase one…ZERO—besides a little blood, sweat and tears….I joke,I joke….
Stay tuned!!!
So if you were here yesterday…you saw that I decided to take the carpet off my stairs….Phase One–Operation Stairs Makeover and here we continue…..

The project continues with a day of sanding and scraping up the paint and caulk that was on the stairs.

Plastic was hung up from every doorway to help the dust…which there was a bunch of …dust!!
We used my Dad’s quarter sheet sander….and we got course (60) grade sand paper. I bought 2 packages. 
We ended up using about one little quarter sheet per step…
After all the steps were sanded there was still some junk on some of the steps. So for the stubborn parts I used a stripper. This stuff is awesome! 
 Please follow the directions though…be careful please. 
You basically brush it on, let it sit 20 minutes and take a metal scraper to it and the paint and gunk just shrivels right off!
So satisifying
When you are finished getting all the gunk (for lack of a better word, sorry) You need to clean the steps gently with some mineral spirits to remove any residue from the sander and the epoxy remover. We decided instead of staining we wanted to paint the treads a deep chocolate color and the risers and semi-gloss white. We could have stained….but a couple of stairs really had paint built in…and we loved the color of the paint. It looks really rich…but also has alot of character. Love that!
Seek peek at sample board…..so pretty!
Phase 2 we spent:
$3.94 for 2 drop cloths
$5.97 air-masks
$5.05 for 2 packs of 60 grit sandpaper
$2.68 small metal can for epoxy remover
$8.97 Epoxy and Paint remover
$2.00 for 2 chip brushes
$2.94 jar of sample paint
$31.55 spent….
Stay tuned for Phase 3!
such a good guy….he vacuums more than me! Love you babe! 
Here is where we started this project if you are just joining me….Phase 1 and Phase 2 of Operation Stairs Makeover…..

 Putter has lost all patience with me by this point. Poor dog…if he could talk, he would be saying “could you please just put back the carpet and end this nonsense woman…” oh no….no carpet for you!
After stairs were all cleaned up good I could start painting. I primed the risers with a white primer.

Then I painted the treads with the brown. We loved the color Behr Sweet Molasses, it is a true chocolate color–rich and warm and has lots of character. I bought a quart or eggshell finish. 

Valspar Signature is a paint and primer in one. I chose Eggshell finish because I am going to be putting 3 coats of polyurethane on the steps and I didn’t want the paint to be so glossy the poly wouldn’t adhere. Perfect for this project. You can find it at Lowes. A quart was plenty for 2 coats on just the treads. 
Purdy is really a great brush to use! 
I didn’t bother taping since I have to paint all the white anyway. I painted a coat on…let it dry 2 hours (can said I could recoat after 2 hours) and then put on the 2nd coat. We were able to go up the stairs at night. I painted while the kids were at school so it really wasn’t an inconvenience at all.
The next day I was able to cover the treads with some craft paper and tape the sides so that I could paint the trim white and the risers. Craft paper is sold in rolls near the paint supplies. I cut it to fit on the stairs. 
Frog tape really seals nicely—when you go to take it off it has a nice clean edge.
I used a semi-gloss quart of Valspar Signature in White Umber (the color of my trim). I put 2 coats of white on and let dry overnight before taking the paper and tape off. Placing a fan at the bottom of the stairs helps the drying process.
Phase 3 Money Spent:
$30 for 2 quarts of custom mixed paint
$3 roll of Kraft paper
$6 Frog Tape
Grand total Spent so far on Operation Stairs: $70.51
  You’ve been so patient….so encouraging…so excited for me. Thanks! I am still in the middle of polyurethane all the coats on the treads….but you can see the final product.
A few of you have asked how many hours this project has taken me…well the first phase (clearing out the carpet and pulling all staples and tacks) took me 2.5 hours–mind you I did this by myself on a Friday. Phase 2 took Bill and I from about 11:30 on Saturday morning till about 4:30 (that includes prep work, sanding, and cleaning up all the dust!). And on Sunday I took about an hour and did all the scraping with the stripping remover stuff. Phase 3 was the painting process and that took about an hour per coat…then I would let it dry for 3 hours and a re coat. So I think you could accomplish this in one weekend (minus the polyurethane step…because that requires some dry time).
If you haven’t seen the first few post on these stairs you can read all about it here….Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3 …..
Electric candles people…not to worry—wouldn’t advise real candles on newly lacquered stairs…just sayin
Ta Da!
I am coating the stair treads with Minwax Fast-Drying Satin. I am doing every other step. I put one coat on, let it dry 4 hours; then placed another coat. I am doing 3 coats on just the treads. I placed a small piece of tape on the steps that I was allowed to step on (just a mental note for me!) I am using a foam brush. Place a fan at the bottom of stairs to aid in quick drying. It is about $11 for a can.
I know they look dark here but I wanted to show how pretty they look at night with these electric candles on…



He’s impressed….my biggest supporter 😉 We feel so satisfied knowing how much we saved and that fabulous feeling that comes from doing something with your own bare hands.
Goodbye worn out carpet….HELLO pretty wood stairs!
I would say they look like a million bucks—-but then again….I only used $81…and a bit of sweat—but that is always a good thing!!
Video Tutorial is here….

Meet the Author: Cassity

Cassity started Remodelaholic with her husband, Justin, to share their love for knocking out walls together. She is an interior designer, wife, and mother of two. She and Justin have remodeled three Read More


  1. Lisa says

    >I saw this last week but I am still impressed. What a difference and it totally gets me fired up to tackle my treads (the only part remaining for my stair-redo). Thanks for the very comprehensive tutorial! It's beautiful!

  2. Darlene says

    >Wow. I.am.in.LOVE with your stairs. I have been eying up my carpeted stairs and seriously debating the carpet removal. After seeing your transformation, I think I will be attempting that soon. Thank you for a great tutorial!

  3. Meowlissa says

    >The stairs look fabulous! I am definitely a fan of carpetless wonder :) Great job! Definitely an inspiration to me for my own staircase 😉

  4. Eric says

    >What an amazing transformation! You did a great job, and documented it so well.

    I love the comment about the 3,567,987 million staples… Next time, get a simple pry bar, and those tack strips will just pop right up.

  5. Tricia says

    >Love it! It looks great!! I feel for ya ripping out those carpet staples. My living room was covered in carpet and I ripped out all the carpet and staples by myself. My hands were sore the next day.

  6. At The Picket Fence says

    >Oh I am so wanting to do this at our house and was just telling my husband about it the other night! Now I will have the pictures as proof to show him that IT CAN BE DONE! :-)

  7. - - Little Miss Martha - - says

    >This looks amazing! Random question… did you keep the carpet upstairs or go with wood up there too? Love it!
    I've thought about doing something like this myself, but I have carpet throughout upstairs and am wondering how I'd pull it off… Hmmm…

  8. Heather @ REOlisticRenovation says

    >GORGEOUS! These make such a HUGE difference! Love this whole project. I was just looking at my stairs this morning wondering when we can tear out the carpet and get crazy! :)

  9. Sparta Savings says

    >Ok – I love this! Thanks for sharing the step-by-step! I will be earmarking this, as our basement stairs are bare wood (not the beautiful wood that you have on yours, but ugly wood. My Mr. Right wants carpet, and I hate carpet (I have allergies!) Maybe I can convince him to let me paint them until we get to the carpeting and pray that he won't continue to want the carpet. We'll see how that goes! lol

  10. Tricia @ Vintage No. 35 says

    >Love this project and thank you for posting this! I also have ugly carpeting on my stairs and I know I will have to take off some paint. Maybe I can convince Mr. H to take off the carpet and redo the steps since it only was $100.

  11. Els Manning says

    >Mine are going to be like that this summer. Also old carpet on them, and lifted the corner, and noticed they were wood also. So this step by step is great! Thank you!

  12. Gina says

    >This is a fantastic step by step!! I want to do this to our stairs too and our hand rail is just like this one where it's not directly on the treads. Nice to know it can still look fabulous!! Well done :)

  13. billie monster says

    >Congrats to you for having the guts to take on this project! I've been wanting to do it to our own carpeted stairs, but am too scared to see whats underneath! hehe. Maybe I should just go for it like you did. Thanks for the inspiration and GREAT JOB!

    ~ http://www.billiemonster.com ~

  14. says

    Oooooh! I was just vacuuming my stairs and thinking “this carpet should go!” but but but I had doubts. Your post makes me think it’s more than just a good idea! Woohoo!

    Instead of sanding could you have stripped first and smooth sanded later? I like the “pickled” look but I also like the “I don’t have to worry about splinters” look too!

    Now that the carpet is off, do you find the stairs are louder? Mine do not squeak and I wonder if they might start to squeak without carpet.

  15. Carol says

    Great job. I was hesitant in doing mine, but the step by step instructions has just convinced me to do this project. Thanks

  16. Rebecca W says

    Love it! Have they held up well over the past year? My husband pulled out the millions of staples to our stairs before we got wood floors…it’s been 6 months and we haven’t done anything with them yet! I’m ready to tackle it myself…you’re inspired me, thanks!

  17. FatJan says

    Your stairs do look like a million bucks. I want to do the same with mine except I don’t know what to do when it comes to the very the top of the stairs.

    You see, I removed the carpet from the stairs as well as the floors starting at the top of the stairs. Right now I have new bamboo flooring everywhere except on the stairs.

    But, before I start sanding and staining/painting the stairs, I don’t know how to deal with the top most stair and the new flooring.

    So, the million dollar question here is: After I have painted the stairs, how should I deal with the change between the bamboo floor and the stair nose at the top of the stair case? What is the best kind of stair trim I could use that won’t let it look commercial?

  18. Becky says

    Did your staid have a bull nose trim when you took out the carpet? I cannot tell. You have inspired me! I started to take off the carpet and they have a square edge. Just wondering what to do :). Thanks

  19. Melissa says

    Love how they turned out! I’m in the middle of the same project, but it was put on hold bc the costs of the materials was way more than I expected, the costs of the same poly at my home depot (bc Canada) is 56$ plus tax!! That and a few repairs we found, house was built in ’76 lol …but I pinned this for my reference :)

  20. Lynn says

    Hi, love your project. Could you possibly post a photo of the very top tread/riser and how they connect up with the flooring upstairs? I am guessing you have carpet upstairs, which is why your stairs was carpeted. We are struggling with how these all fit together if we do a project like this. Where does the upstairs carpet stop? Where does the wood start? Is there a rule of thumb for these things?


  21. Alice Eastman says

    Well Done! I wanted to pull up the carpet in my old house, now I think I might in the one I just bought. After I tackle the kitchen, and the horrid carpet in the bedrooms, and paint…. But now I know how! THANK YOU!

  22. Cheri says

    I love this idea. I was going to order our carpet for our stairs today but I think I’m changing my mind. It looks great. Have noticed if u have any scratches or chip on the stairs? Just wondering how it holds up.

  23. Derric Smith says

    They look GREAT!!! We have 2 stair cases I want to do this with. Do you find yourself slipping or sliding on them? My mom lives us and she has balance issues. Would would hate for her slip and fall down the steps.

    • says

      I feel like without carpet you have to be more careful either way! Not good to run down wood stairs in socks. But you can add a runner down the center for more traction, and the safety of your mother. There is a nice tutorial on Southern hospitality. which might be a great compromise, a great looking staircase and safety for your family!

  24. Kristin says

    Before I rip up the carpet on my stairs, was the house new construction when you purhased? I am wondering how realistic it is to do on new construction. I don’t want to open a can of worms.


    • says

      Mary, you might have to be careful when walking up and down with just socks on. If you need, you could add a runner on the stairs. That is one thing that we wanted to do but didn’t have time. I hope that helps.

  25. Brooke says

    It looks like you did this about two months ago. Did the poly protect the paint? Any scratches or wear? Thanks:) It looks AMAZING!

  26. art says

    Stairs look amazing.. Question.. IM thinking about painting like you did.. my main concern is the paint is slippery.. .. is this a problem you have noticed thanks

  27. Amanda says

    You inspired my fiance and I to tackle our hunter green steps last weekend! Did you end up filling any scratches or holes with wood putty? We have a few, but they aren’t too bad. Just wondering. Thanks!

  28. Rachel says

    We are moving into a house that has stairs– the carpet is already removed (YEAH!!) and they are painted brown. I’d been trying to figure out how to make them look better–maybe a fresher look. They are dull and don’t appear to have any poly on them. You gave me the answer–I think a fresh coat of paint and some poly will do the trick! Thanks!! Your stairs are beautiful!!

  29. Coco says

    First of all…YOU ROCK!!! Amazing job. And thank you for posting this. I’ve always wanted to do this with my carpeted stairs but thought it’d be too hard. You made it look easy…and I LOVE how it costs less than $100! Thank you!!!

  30. Janet says

    You are my hero – I have wanting to do this with my stairs and had no idea what to do after I ripped up all the carpet. Thanks for sharing! Your stairs look AWESOME!

  31. says

    I’ve been wanting to do something similar on our stairs. Do you have carpet at the top of the stairs? what sort of transition did you have at the top?

  32. Jennifer says

    What did you do with the very top/landing? Our stairs lead to the carpeted play room and I want to keep the carpet there.

  33. Liz says

    I love what I’ve seen in here so I’m asking for help. I really want to pull up our carpet on the stairs. However we do live in a track house and I’m afraid that the wood underneath is just plywood. What do you recomend.

  34. Melinda says

    I love your stairs. Now that you’ve had them for a while how are they holding up? Anything you regret, noticed, or would have done differently?

  35. Chantell Patrick says

    Ok, the next time my husband goes out of town on business, I’m gettin busy ripping out carpet…ring, ring, “Hello?” “Hey babe. Watchya doin?” Oh, trying to get these stairs cleaned up a lil bit. What time is your flight?” “My flight, woman it’s in three days, what are you doing over there?” I’m just cleaning up a lil bit.” “Umhum.”

    • says

      You just can’t blame me, if you are sleeping in the dog house when he gets home!!! But seriously I loved our made over stairs, it was totally wroth it!

  36. Marie says

    Love it!! You inspired me to try it out. I am half way done with my stair remodel and so far love it! Thanks for the step by step guidance and pictures!

  37. Jamie says

    Just followed your directions almost to a T, and wanted to send you gratitude. We are installing laminate downstairs, and I didn’t have the money, skills or time to install on the stairs. From craft paper to frog tape to a satin polyurethane finish, I mirrored your directions. After sanding, I didn’t need the Jasco and versus mineral spirits I used a 60/30 water/bleach mix (I read 50/50 but not a fan of bleach. The laminate is grey and black so we chose a similar hue and I’m so so happy with the outcome. I have hated my filthy carpeted stairs for a good three years..and I’m floored (lol) at the outcome. Thank you!!!!

  38. Tracy says

    What you done is fantastic i would like to do that but can’t because we rent and are not allowed :0)

    • Cass says

      Hi Charlotte! This was a guest post, so click over to the original blog (linked at the top of the post) and she can help answer your questions there. Thanks!

  39. Stacy says

    What was at the top of your stairs? Mine is carpet, where would I stop the carpet? Would I have to pull up the carpet at the top of the stairs as well?
    Many thanks!

  40. Shenise says

    Thanks for a fantastic solution to saving over $2500. I am doing my foyer and upper and lower hallways in wood laminate and planned to do my stairs in wood but now I will follow your lead and save my money for another home remodeling project.

  41. Asia P says

    very inspiration and I need to do mine asap. I pulled up some carpet and found I have something totally different, can someone help? please? i have pics

  42. Evelyn says

    I saw this project about 4 months ago and decided to give it a go while the rest of the family is on holiday, I am halfway done and feeling very proud of myself :)

  43. Holly Jeffery says

    I’ve looked at this post several times over the last year (the stairs look AMAZING!), and I’ve finally convinced my husband that IT’S TIME . . . but we really want to know how the stairs are holding up now. Are you still happy with the products and the process?

    • Cass says

      Hi Holly! This post is from a guest, so I can’t report on the durability… But if you’ll click over to her blog (linked up towards the top of the post) then I’m sure she’d love to give you more information. Thanks!

  44. Patrick says

    Looks great, however they scraped off the “gunk” and had amazing looking wood underneath.
    Not many stairways have solid wood like that under carpeting. Not the case for 99% of homes, so before you attempt this check out the wood underneath first. Most stairs nowadays are framed with plywood or OSB particleboard, and not beautiful pine boards. This makes for a whole different ballgame.

  45. Sadia U. says

    I peaked, looked like wood, pulled carpet & disappointment: the landing was particle board!!! I sanded, stained the treads, painted the risers, but what do I do with the landing??? do they have a subfloor under the board? if that’s the case, I could remove 3/4″ particle board & replace with hardwood….if not…. I’m stuck….H E L P !!!
    Thank you

      • sadia says

        Thank you for responding. My question was, is there a subfloor under the particle board, or is that the subfloor? because the bullnose, which is wood, is at the same level as particle board, & I’m afraid if I put hardwood floor on top, it would end up being higher than bullnose….. tried to send you picture but didn’t know how

        • Cass says

          It is really hard to tell you what to do since I cannot see the space and honestly, this is just all guess work. So whatever I might offer as ideas, has to be taken with good thought and care as to what is the safest and strongest option for your stair treads.

          We left our OSB sub floor in place, and we had to create our own 2×4 bull nose for the edge, (shown http://www.remodelaholic.com/2011/08/walnut-stain-at-last-stair-update/). You could take a skill-saw and cut off the bull–nose edge? But it might be safest to just remove the particle board, (IF it is over a strong sub floor that is in good condition) and replace it with a thinner plywood (maybe 1/4-3/8 inch) and thin engineered wood flooring about 3/8 inch thick. I don’t really know what tools you are familiar with, or own which also plays a part, in what you can actually do.

          Basically you just have to get creative, with what you have BUT for utmost safety, you MUST keep the keep the stairs a nice flat surface and keep the step even heights from step to step. When we added the wood floor over our particle board, it was only about 3/8 of an inch thick so it kept the stairs pretty even through-out.

          You could even paint the particle board and bullnose to match the stain you are doing and even use a faux wood graining tool to make it sort of match even more… or just keep it painted plain and finish with the same polyurethane over the paint. Check out these posts for painted options:


          Maybe consult some handy and smart friends who can actually look at your space and help you decide what to do that would work best and be safest and smartest! Because I can’t really give any more advice without being in the space.

          Good luck!

    • Cass says

      Sometimes that is really the best idea, to let a professional handle it! Less stress and then it is DONE! :) Thanks!

  46. says

    Okay,this is so weird that you have a photo of my nasty carpeted stairs on your web-page. HaHa.
    You have inspired me to do this project. I have a couple questions. Did you notice that the stairs were roomier after you removed the carpet and padding? My stairs feel so shallow. Now, that you have been living with the stairs for a few years, how often have you had to wax them?

    • Cass says

      Hi Linda,
      This post is from a guest, so you’ll have to click over to her blog (linked toward the top) to ask her more about the specifics like that. Thanks!

  47. WP says

    Yippee. Doing mine now. JASCO first then sanding … will poly after. It is so good looking – not even done yet.

  48. Karen says

    We just had sewage in our basement, carpeting will not be going down there again. Thinking about tile, or wood laminate. Stairs is what I trying to work out before I have to decide.

    How have they weathered with foot traffic? Any maintenance needed?
    Your work looks great. Nice your husband is so supportive.

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