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Old 11-24-2011, 10:24 PM   #1
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Carpet on stair treads only???


OK, I have done a fair bit of looking for this, but with no luck so far...so I'm looking for help from you experienced carpet installers.

I have my doubts that this is a common practice...but what I would like to do is the following.

I have two sets of spiral stairs in my house, and I would like to cover just the treads with carpet. I would prefer not to wrap the carpet around the bullnose.

The risers will be covered with a finished piece of Virola plywood which has been stained and Varathaned.

The stairs do not yet have the bullnose added. I would like to be able to put carpet on the stairs, with underlay, and have the bullnose attached (screws and glue) so that it will be about flush with the carpet.

I am wide open to ideas as to what the best method(s) of doing this might be.

I understand that this will be a labor intensive project, but if you have looked at my building thread you will see that I am not easily deterred by a little work.

I can post pics of the stairs in question if you wish.

Many thanks in advance.

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Old 11-24-2011, 10:59 PM   #2
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Carpet on stair treads only???


Are you planning on doing everything yourself? The reason I asked, this would be easy for an experienced installer, in fact I have done a simlar job. But could be tricky for a DIYer. You absolutely need to know the finished height of the carpet and pad before you install the bullnose. Then the bullnose must be at that height above the tread and needs to be installed before carpet and pad.

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Old 11-24-2011, 11:07 PM   #3
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Carpet on stair treads only???


Just to be clear, you want to install carpet only on the horizontal surfaces of the treads, and have the surface of the carpet level with the top of the bullnose edge on the front of each tread, correct?

When you say installing the bullnose flush with the carpet do you mean with the compressed carpet, when you are are stepping on it?

I think this sort of arrangement is going to set you up for some unusual wear situations. I think the bullnose will in fact wear more rapidly if the carpet is anything but installed on top of the tread that is the same level as the nose.

Is this to accomplish an aesthetic goal, or something else?
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Old 11-24-2011, 11:21 PM   #4
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Carpet on stair treads only???


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Are you planning on doing everything yourself? The reason I asked, this would be easy for an experienced installer, in fact I have done a simlar job. But could be tricky for a DIYer. You absolutely need to know the finished height of the carpet and pad before you install the bullnose. Then the bullnose must be at that height above the tread and needs to be installed before carpet and pad.
Hi Rusty...yes, I will be doing everything myself. We live on a remote small island and it is all but impossible to get any help here. Even if we could, the cost would be prohibitive.
I am definitely NOT an experienced installer, but I have been a carpenter for better than 40 years.
If you would like to make some specific suggestions I will be sincerely grateful.
I have the carpet here, but haven't picked up the underlay yet...it will be that foam product about 3/8" thick. I'm guessing at that.
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Old 11-24-2011, 11:33 PM   #5
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Carpet on stair treads only???


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Just to be clear, you want to install carpet only on the horizontal surfaces of the treads, and have the surface of the carpet level with the top of the bullnose edge on the front of each tread, correct?

When you say installing the bullnose flush with the carpet do you mean with the compressed carpet, when you are are stepping on it?

I think this sort of arrangement is going to set you up for some unusual wear situations. I think the bullnose will in fact wear more rapidly if the carpet is anything but installed on top of the tread that is the same level as the nose.

Is this to accomplish an aesthetic goal, or something else?
And this is why I am asking for advice. To get this sort of help.

Yes, the carpet will be on the horizontal surface only.

I suppose the bullnose could be at the compressed level of the carpet, which, incidentally, is a Berber. I'm not sure how much that compresses, but I can check quickly.

I have a choice of woods which I can make the bullnose from, but I don't really see why the nosing would wear much given the relatively little use it will get.

I plan on finishing the bullnose with a polyurethane type finish and I could add the fine sand to the upper edge to give it some traction.

I did make a set of treads for another fellow on the island here (no carpet involved) to which I added the sand, and so far (about 8 years) it is in great shape.

I guess you could say it is for aesthetic purposes. I'm also hoping it will be practical.
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Old 11-25-2011, 12:22 AM   #6
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Carpet on stair treads only???


The bullnose will wear rapidly because that part of the step gets the most foot traffic. Most people don't realize that. I would hope that these stairs don't get a lot of heavy traffic.
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Old 11-25-2011, 12:55 AM   #7
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Carpet on stair treads only???


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The bullnose will wear rapidly because that part of the step gets the most foot traffic. Most people don't realize that. I would hope that these stairs don't get a lot of heavy traffic.
There are only two of us here, and we aren't inclined to race up and down the stairs, so definitely no heavy traffic.

The tread depth where we would walk is about 11".

Surely, if I use a hardwood, would that not help keep the wear down to almost nothing?

How would you go about putting this together Rusty?
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Old 11-25-2011, 01:19 PM   #8
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Carpet on stair treads only???


I assume there are sides on the treads. When you place the bullnose on the front the same height as the carpet and pad, you will have what looks like a tray or a very mini room. Treat the 4 sides like you would walls and put tack strip on all four sides. Pad the center. Rub the carpet down on the front strip, next to the nose and push back to stretch the carpet with a kicker, do the same towards the sides. Then, just trim and tuck in like with a wall. If there are no sides on the steps, you roll the carpet under evenly on both sides. I hope this helps.
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:08 PM   #9
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Carpet on stair treads only???


Rusty...many thanks for the help. Sorry for the delay in replying, I had to take the wife over to town today to get on a ferry to Vancouver for the grandson's 4th birthday. You know what my life would be like if I didn't get her there in time for that!

I'm going to put up a few pics so you can see exactly what I have here.

The first one is of the top stairs which go right to the roof. They are not often used except to clear debris off the roof, or to do something to the solar panels if necessary. The wife does not go up there at all.

The second pic is looking at the treads from the side. As you can see, the inner end of the radius is open, but I can certainly cover them with something if you think it might help. I will be enclosing the ends in some fashion in any event, just haven't decided how.
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Carpet on stair treads only???-top-tread-1.jpg   Carpet on stair treads only???-top-tread-2.jpg  
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:16 PM   #10
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Carpet on stair treads only???


The bottom treads are quite a bit bigger, about 44" long or thereabouts, except for the lowest treads which you can see in the pics.

The very bottom tread I added a round chunk after the fact to try and finish it off somewhat. Once it is covered it should look OK....I hope.

The top step leads to the hallway upstairs which is done in laminate. I know, I know, you don't have to tell me. I won't make that mistake again.

But the nose piece I made up for that transition is working well.

The others I think will have a more rounded appearance.

My friend Jim suggested that perhaps I should add something to the inside of the treads to close them off a little. What would you think of that idea.

I'm quite happy to close them off or leave them open, so your professional advice is what I will follow here.

Thanks again.
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Carpet on stair treads only???-bt-1.jpg   Carpet on stair treads only???-bt-2.jpg   Carpet on stair treads only???-bt-3.jpg  
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:32 PM   #11
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Carpet on stair treads only???


...if you were wondering why there are white paint lines on the front of the treads, it was to make them easier to see when we were going downstairs if it was a bit dull inside. It worked.
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Old 11-25-2011, 10:30 PM   #12
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Carpet on stair treads only???


If the carpet is berber then I think the issue that I mentioned might not come to pass, particularly if you made the carpet just a tad higher than the edge of the bullnose.

What I'm more concerned about now is safety. I think having steps with different surfaces and things you can catch your feet and misstep on opens you up to a bit more risk of falling at some point. Maybe not an issue now but as you get older, you never know. The carpet will be catchy and the bullnose will be slick. I would if I were doing this make the bullnose more of an accent on the front of the step rather than a surface that your foot comes in much contact with.

I mention this because my BIL has a cottage that has stairs that have engineered flooring on them and some idiot put thin moulding on the front of the treads to hide the joint between tread and riser and you take your life into your hands every time you go up and down them simply because they are different than what your body expects steps to "feel" like.
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Old 11-25-2011, 10:45 PM   #13
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Carpet on stair treads only???


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Maybe not an issue now but as you get older, you never know. The carpet will be catchy and the bullnose will be slick. I would if I were doing this make the bullnose more of an accent on the front of the step rather than a surface that your foot comes in much contact with.

I mention this because my BIL has a cottage that has stairs that have engineered flooring on them and some idiot put thin moulding on the front of the treads to hide the joint between tread and riser and you take your life into your hands every time you go up and down them simply because they are different than what your body expects steps to "feel" like.
Your bro-in-laws steps sound something like what a friend of ours has in his log home up on Vancouver Island.

Beautiful stairs...all nicely varnished...they look great! But slippery as h*ll!

I plan on using the fine sand in the finish coats on the bullnosing which definitely removes that slippery feel.

As for getting older...we're both 69 already...so however many years we have left isn't going to make much difference in how we traverse stairs.

I think you know that I have been a carpenter since the time that Noah built the ark. I like to tell folks that I actually built the ark, Noah was just my helper...but he had a better PR man and got all the credit.

One other thing. Right from my early carpentry days I have always been the guy to offer to do the stairs on every job. Most carpenters hate to do stairs. I also go out of my way to make the rise low, and the tread long. Much easier to walk up and down. While that may make the total run of the stairs longer, it is also a lot safer.
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Old 11-26-2011, 09:15 AM   #14
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Carpet on stair treads only???


But the ark had ramps!

Well OK, my concerns are allayed. I was not so much concerned about slipping on the bullnose itself as just the issue of having multiple types of surfaces on the stair. Heard too many horror stories about people getting very badly hurt falling down a simple run of steps.
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Old 11-26-2011, 11:08 AM   #15
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Carpet on stair treads only???


Keith, on the open side of your stairs are you going to install stair brackets? I know they are high but as good as you are with wood you can make some for little to nothing. Here is a link to some fancy ones.
http://www.crownmoldings.net/ccp0-ca...-brackets.html

If you didn't want to make the carpet an insert you could install brackets with the top edge above the treads and butt the carpet into them. I am still thinking.

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