Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How to take carpet off stairs

First, stare at Harry for a while to give you inspiration…

THEN, get to work. ;)

No wait. First, turn on some good music to help you through the process. It works. Swear. I picked a little Kesha and Maroon 5, but whatever floats your boat.

Here’s my process and the tools I used to do it…

The most important step is the first one, and that’s checking to see what your stairs look like. I knew ours had a curved edge to the front, but just to be safe, I pulled up an area on a riser first, (riser is the part that goes up, tread is what you step on) and pulled just a bit to peek.

When I knew all was good, I used the large wrench to continue the process:


You will think it will be insanely hard to pull the carpet, but it’s so easy, it’s just silly. Pulling up the carpet is hands down the easiest part of this whole process!

If you are just checking the step to see the condition, don’t be afraid to pull a bit of carpet up – you can either just lay it back down and tuck it in when you are done, or staple/hammer it back down. You won’t need to do much to secure that little bit of carpet if you decide not to move forward with the project.

I used a big wrench with long handles because it was easy to really get a grip on. When you pull it all up, you’ll be left with this:

The carpet padding will be held on by staples but just rip that stuff off:

It is about now that you will want to cover your entire house with hard flooring when you see everything that flies out of the carpet and padding. Ew.

To get the tack strips off the treads, you’ll need a large pry bar and a hammer. Stick the bar under the strip, and hammer it in until you get some leverage:

Then rock the bar up and down and pry that baby off. BE CAREFUL. Some of these came right off, some came off in pieces. There are meeeellions of little tacks coming UP through the strip, so they are lethal little devils.

**I cannot stress enough that this is not a project you want to attempt with small children around – too many staples, tools and pointy things popping up everywhere. OH, and WEAR SHOES. (Eye protection is a good idea too, as well as a mask when you are sanding.)

Did I mention all the staples? Oh, I did? I just did? Umkay, well, I’m going to mention it again. LOTS. At first I was just grabbing them with the wrench and pulling:

But I soon found just using a flathead screwdriver and the hammer worked much better:


Tap the screwdriver under the staple then pop it off. You need to watch digging into the wood during this process but I didn’t have that happen much. And when it did, I didn’t mind. I don’t mind if the steps are a bit rugged. :)

Because the staple doesn’t always come all the way out, you will still need to grab them with the wrench:

They really do come out easily. Don’t be sceered of these staples.

Be sceered of these:

Very, very sceered.

These little buggers were only in the risers and were a HUGE, massive, HUGE, big pain in the booty to remove. You can use either process with these to get them up – if you grab them with the wrench and pull they pop right out. If you can’t get a good hold on them, use the screwdriver and hammer to pop them out a bit.

Good thing is most of these little guys come out with the carpet as you pull it off. For some reason I had many of these to deal with on a few of the risers.

There are certain areas that are just infested with staples. Like “I am going to cry and never stop if I see one more staple” infested. There were a ton at the corners of our lower steps:

See? Cry.

When you are done, the steps will probably look like this:

I still had some straggly carpet pieces to get off at this point. But I had to have a break from the staples. ;)

With just a quick sanding with my little electric sander, it helped clean them up a ton:


Later, I primed some of the risers just to get and idea of how they will look. I also played around with some stains and I am THRILLED with the reddish tone on the upper step:This is where it stalled for a bit. The sander my FIL has does wonders – as you can see on the bottom steps. It is taking the overspray paint right off. But the sander broke yesterday, and they were supposed to finish tomorrow, but another massive storm is coming so they won’t be here. (And I don’t want them to in that weather.)

Patience. I’m learning to be patient. Trying.

I am beyond thrilled with the landing though – it was the one area that had me stumped because was just plywood. My father-in-law recommended installing pine boards so everything would stain the same. I checked the boards out at Lowe’s and they were all at least a half inch thick…which would create a major trip hazard at the top of the steps going to the landing.

So I walked around for a while trying to figure out what I was going to do. And then it hit me – I saw the beadboard. Not beadboard really, but pine panels similar to beadboard that are slipped together.

I was thinking of just laying the pieces out across the landing, but my FIL is brilliant and he staggered them like hardwood flooring:

landingThe edge where the landing and the stairs meet will be sanded down so there is an easy transition. The flooring is hammered down with finishing nails and they make me want to have this stuff put down throughout the whole house! I hope it stains up well, because we are thrilled with how it looks so far!!

So there you have it. The only thing left to do is sand down the treads, which won’t take long at all with the heavy duty sander. But I’m at the mercy of others and the weather to get that done.  THEN, I can start staining! Yippee!!!

I’m giddy! I’ll show you that process as soon as I can!

Each section of the stairs (upper and lower half) took about two hours, start to finish, to complete. That included pulling the carpet, tack strips and staples, as well as a bit of sanding and then clean up.

So, have I convinced you to peek under your carpet yet? ;)


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