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cfoush 08-15-2011 10:17 AM

install wood flooring on stairs
Does anyone have any pictures or stories about removing carpeting on indoor stairs and installing wood flooring?

Jackofall1 08-15-2011 11:16 AM

Welcome cfoush, to the best darn DIY'r site on the web.

I am not saying you can't do it as I have heard of being done, but by the time you buy nosing and T&G wood you could pay to buy stair treads.

The reason I have heard that T&G wood on stair treads could be a problem is there isn't a lot of material for the flooring cleat to bite into, stairs are considered high traffic areas and generally have alot of movement that T&G installation doesn't like.

Additionally, you add 3/4" to the riser depth dimension throwing off the uniformity of the riser to landing or riser to floor relationship.


bakerzdosen 08-16-2011 09:16 PM

OK, I've typed this up twice now and then keep having bad luck in erasing it one way or another. So, you get a slightly abridged version:

I'm currently in the middle of replacing 27 treads (and 31?? risers) at the same time as installing 600 sq ft. of of pre-finished 3/4" hardwood. I've probably completed 450 sq feet of the T&G.
There seem to be a LOT of differing opinions on how to do this out there. This is simply what I did. I stressed my self out a LOT trying to find THE right way the month prior to doing this. I finally just used my own common sense to pick a method and go with it.
I didn't want hardwood over the existing treads as I think it has the potential to look a little goofy. I can see now that it's definitely easier in the short term, but it's definitely not the "right" way to do it.
I measured and found that my treads were indeed standard 11.5" treads (each step is 44" wide). However, after removing the carpet, I found that I didn't measure ALL of the treads and that some had a small strip of wood (with HUGE gaps - which you can get away with with carpet) meaning that I needed 12 13" treads. I came to the conclusion that the best way to do this was to buy two additional treads and "sacrifice them" one 1.5" strip at a time. Using a couple clamps, Titebond III, 60 grit followed by 120 grit paper, I have to say that the results of all but one of the treads is fantastic (if I do say so myself...). The one simply looks a little off because of how the grain of the two strips of wood came together and it accentuates the transition between the different pieces of wood (like a dark line). It works, but doesn't qualify as "fantastic." :)
The unfinished 48" x 1" x 11.5" oak treads at Lowe's are relatively inexpensive (for what they are - HD can order them at about the same price and the LL near me has them at that price as well) so I chose that route.
I chose to use Bona Amberseal with Bona Traffic Anti-slip. So far with the treads I have finished (18?), they look and feel amazing (again, if I do say so...) However, I will probably be glad when I'm all done that I used Traffic, but at this point, there is a part of me that wishes I'd used a single component finish (eg Basic Emulsion or Bona Mega, or an oil based finish) as it would have been easier (especially with the noses and exposed underside). Of course, buying pre-finished treads would have been easier still, but I would have been out of luck with the 13" treads. Finishing the nose and overhang has been the most difficult part since the treads aren't installed yet. (One of those things that most people seemed to agree on - finish the treads before installing.)
The other really difficult part has been removing the existing mdf treads. Each tread was glued (something like liquid nails subfloor or pl-400) AND nailed to the stringers. However, they still squeaked like nobody's business even back when the place was only about 7 years old. I learned from that. I'll attach the oak treads with Bona r851 and skip the nailing (I'd thought of buying some sikabond as it'd be easier to apply from a tube, but I've decided it won't be THAT difficult to apply the r851). Regardless, there were 9-12 nails in each tread. I initially thought I could just hammer the tread off. NOPE. I then tried cutting the tread with a jigsaw and hammering from there. An hour later, I was done, but there was NO WAY I was going to go through that again. So, I read that the best way is to get a nail puller. I bought a Bostich 12" claw bar and the thing has been worth its weight in gold (despite the increase in gold prices... :) ) The other problem was that they painted the side molding after the treads were installed. That means that the nails on the side stringers (3-4 of them on each side) were VERY hard to find. The point is: Removing the treads has NOT been easy - and I didn't see that one coming despite all the hours of reading and stressing over this that I did.
I don't have any pictures yet, but I'll post some when I'm done. I'm back working (as in my "day job") this week, so most progress has been halted until next week when I can take some time off again.
I did buy a stair tool, but I haven't used it yet, so I can't comment on that at this time.
I'll probably install poplar risers (I don't have the wood yet) but I may opt for pine sheerly because of the price difference. I could end up spending nearly as much on painted risers as finished oak risers, but I actually like the look better, so it's a non-issue for me.

Stairs are hard. I knew that coming into this, but I can now "witness" that it is indeed true. So, I can see people wanting to just "get them done" however they can and have them look OK. I don't like going that route, and so maybe I'm a masochist for doing this. However, I'm sure I'll be quite happy with the end result(s) in a couple of weeks.

JTAP 08-17-2011 05:15 PM

Can you post pictures?
I'm about to attempt to replace my carpeted stairs with hardwood as well, can you post pictures of your project?



bakerzdosen 08-18-2011 11:37 AM


Originally Posted by JTAP (Post 709491)
I'm about to attempt to replace my carpeted stairs with hardwood as well, can you post pictures of your project?



Gladly. I'd LOVE to post pictures of the finished product because that would mean it was finished. But alas, it ain't done yet. :)

Do you want pictures of the project in its current state? (I've removed a few treads, finished roughly 5/8 of the treads, haven't started the risers, and haven't installed a single thing. The project is in "standby" because I'm on call 24/7 this week.) Would those help to have right now? If so, I'll post some.

Otherwise, I'll post pictures when I'm done.

However, that is a good reminder to take pics of the process. I'd forgotten to do that.

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