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Flooring

Replacing carpeted stairs with wood

Hi there-

I am redoing the 'basement' of my trilevel, including replacing old carpet with Allure vinyl plank.  The stairs up to the main level are also carpeted and the main level is a parquet.  To avoid multiple flooring and awkward transitions (and to get rid of the nasty old carpet!), I've also torn the carpet off of the stairs and purchased pine treads and risers which I will stain to match the Allure plank.

 

With the carpet removed, the existing stairs (treads and risers) are plywood - so not something I could just stain or paint, hence the purchase.

 

My question is-

Do I remove the existing treads to install the new treads?  I've checked around, and most of the instruction I'm finding says to just trim the bullnose from the existing and install over the top.  However, it seems to me that doing so will make the rise at the top stair too short, and at the bottom, too tall.

 

Also, the stair well is 36" wide; I have all of the treads and risers cut to that width, assuming that I needed to remove and reinstall the trim board that runs up each side of the stairs.  (as is, with the carpet removed, there are some pretty significant gaps between the existing stair structure and the trim / wall)

 

I'm a very novice (but determined) do-it-yourselfer, so if you're using terms other than riser and tread, or maybe shim, I may needs some clarification :)

 

Thanks in advance!

rise

 

trim gap

 

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Posted 2011-07-02T08:14:36+0000  by Cheers Cheers
 

Okay, well - after everything is trimmed (in my own crazy way) and 6 coats of varathane later, I think I'm ready to give you some 'after' pics.    Definitely matches the new floor better after that second coat of stain, actually better than it looks like in the pictures.

 

So, thank you again for all of your help and patience.  Time to check this one off in the done column and move on to last few finishing pieces of the basement overhaul... installing a pre-hung (replacement) door at the pantry, and new bi-fold doors in front of the washer/dryer.  Then, just run a bead of caulk along the crown molding (the part I'm really dreading), and I think I can start moving furniture back in, in time to be ready for my houseguests next Wednesday!

 

Full flight up-

IMG_2466.jpg

 

My crazy ...but effective... trim job to block the gaps below the sideboard.

My Crazy Trim job

 

looking down without glare from lights on

 

IMG_2471.jpg

Posted 2011-07-27T03:51:54+0000  by Cheers

Hello again Cheers!

 

Good to hear things are coming along nicely on those stairs :smileyhappy:

 

On that trouble stair that is coming up too dark, you can either stain the rest of the stairs to match it, or yeah...you would need to sand it down again...but you don't have to spend the entire day sanding down the step. See if you can start out with a medium grit handheld sanding sponge if you don't have one already, they work great on getting into corners and around the lip of the step....

sanding sponge.JPG

Stains are a tricky process if you just dive into it. Pine unfortunately, is not as forgiving as most other wood species, so light successive wipes are really needed to make sure all the steps are uniform in appearance. By doing that, you can decide how much or how little the stain will work on your stairwell.

 

As for using the Wood Hardener we sell, that product is generally used for wood projects that have rotted or old wood that needs to be restored, like staining an exterior old deck. You can use them if you like, but I don't think it is that necessary. Definitely invest in more pre-stain conditioner though!

 

Keep up the great work Cheers, I can't wait to see them pictures!

aboveaveragejoe

Posted 2011-07-11T13:35:00+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

Hi Joe,

I finished building and staining last weekend- haven't had a chance to get back to it this week.  So, just a stain fix and a couple more finishing trim pieces and I'll post some pics for ya.

 

On one stair, the stain is too dark/heavy; Is there a cleaner / easier way to fix that other than sanding it down and restaining?  (I didn't quite catch the hang of wiping the stain off right away until I was about halfway through)

 

I noticed there's Minwax product that's "Wood Hardener" - with pine, would this be a recommended product?  I suppose at this stage it's too late to use it (I haven't put the verathane on yet), but since I've got another stairwell I'll need to do when I put hardwood upstairs, it would be good to know.

 

Thanks,

Cheers!

Posted 2011-07-10T20:10:33+0000  by Cheers

The link to where this was supposedly moved to isn't working. 

Posted 2011-07-10T19:58:47+0000  by Cheers
This post has been moved to a different board where the topic makes more sense.
Posted 2011-07-02T19:42:36+0000  by HomeDepotRachel

Ah, I didn't catch the part about the pre-stain conditioner, so thank you for reiterating!  One more stop at the Depot, and I should be set - I'll go ahead and pick up the 2.5" screws while I'm there, what the heck :smileywink:

 

And sorry - I think this will be the last clarifcation before I come back with after pics...  (just call me "over thinker")

 

The side board... when I stated the stairwell is 36" wide, that's actually wall to wall, not trim to trim, so putting the side board back would mean it's basically sitting on the stairs, unlike now where it's tucked in between the stairs and wall. (it looks like it's just a 3/4" deep x 9.5" wide board.)  That wouldn't work so well, so I'm assuming I need to have another 1.5" taken off the width of the treads & risers to fit a sideboard down in again?

 

I haven't managed to pry the sideboard off the wall yet, but I'm guessing, based on other work I've uncovered around here, they quite likely were overly generous with the construction adhesive... and I may well be tearing up the wall,  or at least a good 6 layers of paint right down through to the top layer of paper.  I also think I might need a wider board; with the carpet, the corner gaps weren't visibile, but I'm not sure even a 1/4 round would disguise those gaps?

 

If the sideboard doesn't survive removal, or damages the  wall (that seems to be the way every project around here goes...), or just needs to be wider, do people ever stain to match the stairs? or should I try to match the white on the walls?) 

 

Otherwise, I'm all set with my adhesive, wood filler, etc. etc.!  So, just have to finish up another weird trim solution in the main room, and I think I'm ready to hit the new flooring, stairs, casing, trim... wouldn't be nice if just once the scope of a project would shrink once you get into it?  :smileysurprised:

 

Thanks so much for your patience!

Posted 2011-07-02T18:56:52+0000  by Cheers

Since we're off to a great start let's keep rolling...

 

I'm a little concerned we're going to trip heading up since the new treads will be 1" deeper than the original  - and they were carpeted so we weren't really encountering the bull  nose.  The guy in mill works said it's not a concern, a deeper tread is better, and he said not to trim off any of the depth. 


This is where I am going to be in the same boat as your guy in Millworks. Best thing I can say is, install it just like you normally would. But BEFORE you stain the steps, do a walking test to make sure you won't be tripping. I highly doubt you would even notice that much of a difference since we are contending with a 1" difference. If it does, sand and trim accordingly.

 

I was planning to leave the existing risers and attach the new ones to them - but it sounds like you recommend removing both treads and risers? (can't remember why I was planning that; I think because the tread is deeper and I was thinking of more support under the bullnose, but that doesn't help anything beyond the top and bottom step!)  


Yes, remove everything, the risers/steps/side board. Like I said in the post earlier, adding wood to more wood (man-made plywood might I add) will only increase your chances of depth of the riser and increase the chance of the noise created from the creaking steps! So avoid the task of more work, the new pine risers will work just fine by themselves. Your chance is now to do this, so I would just go ahead with a complete tear-out.

 

When I went in search of stain, I explained what I was doing, and below is what the guy at the Home Depot paint counter recommended.  It made sense, seems like it would work right, but it is a little different from what you recommended, so thought I'd toss this one up as well.  (knowing there's rarely only 1 possible solution) :smileytongue: All of the stairs in my house are pretty heavily used.


You are right about having more than one solution for this project, and the stain is no exception. The water-based stain you purchased will work great for your steps, just make sure you use the pre-stain conditioner I mentioned in the post above in the image. Using a pre-stain conditioner is just as important to putting on the stain, if not more. Since you have a very porous and soft species of wood, pine, you will need to apply them onto your steps. If you don't, I can't guarantee and it will most likely give you a blotched and uneven amount of stain color, even if you used 5 or 6 coats of stain on the stairs. Let the conditioner dry out, then use your stain. Since your using a water-based stain, be sure to use a water-based conditioner too. You'll be glad you did. You'll be getting a professional looking finish with it.

 

I was planning to do the stain and probably one coat of the Varathane before I install, and then another coat of Varathane after.  Is there a particular reason you recommend staining after? 


As for choosing Varathane floor polyurethane, you hit a home run in my book! It is an awesome and possibly the best product we sell for clear floor finishes in our Paint dept. As for the application...wait until you are finished with the installation and let all your coats of stain dry completely. A big reason for this is because if you installed your steps and you apply a coat of stain or poly, you have a big chance of getting dust imbedded into your finish, which looks bad and unprofessional. Now you can pre-stain and stain all you like, but I would wait until after the steps are completely installed..why? Because you don't want to restain any nail holes, or refill holes then resand and reapply stain...it's not the smart way to go. Wait until all is said and done with the install process...and invest in cheesecloth and/or tack cloth when you do get ready to stain to make sure all of the dust gets completely off. Also, you can use a very fine grit (preferably 220 grit) sandpaper in sponge or paper form to sand lightly between the coats of polyurethane. That's right coats, you'll need at a minimum of 2, maybe even 3 to make sure your high traffic steps withstand the test of time and tons of feet....

 

Also, I bought 2" screws (see image) for a 1" riser - will that work or do I need to use 2.5" (I probably have some from an ongoing fence project...)  Screw placement - do I need more than 1 in each corner?  (none in the center front or back?  the adhesive will take care of that, yes?)

 

2" screws are fine, provided you use that adhesive we were talking about earlier. If you have 2.5" screws laying around, and they are coarse threaded, then you are good to go with using them! One is each corner is suffice, provided, you have also used a high-strength polyurethaned based adhesive (like Liquid Nails) first underneath. This is that 1-2 combo I was talking about earlier in the post to make sure you won't get noisy steps. With those screws in, make them disappear with a good filler. Filler is better than wood putty in your situation, since you will be staining and later putting polyurethane down. Wood filler has actual cellulose wood fiber in it, allowing it to be stained and look seamless after the whole project is done.

 

Cheers, let us know if that does it for you or if you have any additional comments or questions. Update us on your progress,  who knew that building your upsteps could be a downhill job with the right information!

 

aboveaveragejoe

 



Posted 2011-07-02T18:06:26+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

Oops  - I meant 2" screws for both risers & 1"treads - do I need the full 2.5"?

Posted 2011-07-02T17:01:36+0000  by Cheers

Thanks Joe, very helpful! 

And selfishly, good to see I'm on the right track - what you've laid out is what I was going to do before I decided to research more and confused myself with all those other answers! (I'm assuming the use of existing treads must be more geared towards laying some sort of hardwood planks on stairs?)

 

Just a few more things to check-

 

I'm a little concerned we're going to trip heading up since the new treads will be 1" deeper than the original  - and they were carpeted so we weren't really encountering the bull  nose.  The guy in mill works said it's not a concern, a deeper tread is better, and he said not to trim off any of the depth. 

 

I was planning to leave the existing risers and attach the new ones to them - but it sounds like you recommend removing both treads and risers? (can't remember why I was planning that; I think because the tread is deeper and I was thinking of more support under the bullnose, but that doesn't help anything beyond the top and bottom step!)  

 

When I went in search of stain, I explained what I was doing, and below is what the guy at the Home Depot paint counter recommended.  It made sense, seems like it would work right, but it is a little different from what you recommended, so thought I'd toss this one up as well.  (knowing there's rarely only 1 possible solution) :smileytongue: All of the stairs in my house are pretty heavily used.

 

I was planning to do the stain and probably one coat of the Varathane before I install, and then another coat of Varathane after.  Is there a particular reason you recommend staining after? 

 

Also, I bought 2" screws (see image) for a 1" riser - will that work or do I need to use 2.5" (I probably have some from an ongoing fence project...)  Screw placement - do I need more than 1 in each corner?  (none in the center front or back?  the adhesive will take care of that, yes?)

 

Yes, I'll be sure to share some 'after' pics back (if I ever get done with this project!)

Thanks again -

Cheers!

stain

Posted 2011-07-02T16:57:17+0000  by Cheers

Cheers cheers!

 

Welcome to the community, let's get you a new stairway!

 

When I lived in my parents 60+ year old house, we used new wood risers and treads going into my room, Dad and I used a combo of items to get the job done and it worked great! In the bullet points below, I'll share with you my insights I have found in getting new steps. 

 

From the looks of things and the great pics you sent us on here, you are off to a great start with the new materials and prep work you've already done.

 

In your question, you asked...

 

Do I remove the existing treads to install the new treads?  I've checked around, and most of the instruction I'm finding says to just trim the bullnose from the existing and install over the top.  However, it seems to me that doing so will make the rise at the top stair too short, and at the bottom, too tall.

 

The very short answer to your question. Yes, remove the existing treads. 

 

The longer version to your question is you are right about if you keep the existing steps on there that it will make for some funky dimensions to your risers and treads (those are the right words to describe steps, you were right :robotvery-happy:).

 

The biggest reason to replace out your existing plywood steps is that even if the new steps were fit to be placed over the old steps, you'd have lots of issues, namely the increased creeking and squeaks of your steps. My suggestion would be in order...

 

  • Tear out the existing steps with a pry bar, chisel and/or hammer
  • make sure no nails, screws, or wood are protruding from the old wood frame. This will ensure the new steps will be secure and level
  • Use a 1-2 punch of adhesive as well as a fastener (a nail or screw) to secure the steps and to guarantee the steps will never make a sound underfoot. If you use a heavy-duty adhesive with screws/nails, this may make your stairs to be the quietest floor in the house! The adhesive brand Liquid Nails work great for this, and the Projects or Heavy-Duty Construction version sold in our paint department works very well in this situation. You can use a caulk gun and put a bead on the wood frames supporting the stairs, then....
  • you can use screws or nails to place the new treads and risers you just purchased into the wood frame after the placing them down with the adhesive. Either way, DRILL A PILOT HOLE FIRST to make sure you will get absolutely no warps or splits on your new steps. Pine is a very soft species compared to hardwoods, so making the pilot hole first goes a long ways on this project. It also ensures the new fasteners will be secure and easier to drill or hammer into the steps.
  • If you choose nails, use 10 penny nails that we sell in our Hardware department, and simply use a wood filler or putty to fill the hole. If you choose screws, you can use the same wood filler or putty, but also consider a dowel hole that we sell in hardware as well to ensure you get a timeless and beautiful finish to your steps!

Once the installation is in, you can now use your choice of stain and polyurethane to match with the new Allure flooring! One note, make sure to avoid stains that have polyurethanes pre-mixed into them, as those finishes aren't suitable for foot traffic. 

 

Also, the stair well is 36" wide; I have all of the treads and risers cut to that width, assuming that I needed to remove and reinstall the trim board that runs up each side of the stairs.  (as is, with the carpet removed, there are some pretty significant gaps between the existing stair structure and the trim / wall)

 

If you can remove the trim board, this will make your job much much easier. At the end of the day, after reinstalling the trim board and putting in your new pine steps, you should have no more existing gaps between the trim and wall. If you do, you can remedy this with installing quarter round on the margins. It's an extra step, but it does make the steps look professionally done. Use small 16D finishing nails on those guys to get them secured into the trim board.


Below are sample pictures of some materials needed for this project:

drill.JPG

 

Let us know if you have any further questions! From the looks of your post, you are well on your way to get your new stairs in! Update us with more pics if you can, we can call it the "after" pictures :smileyvery-happy:

 

Cheers,

aboveaveragejoe

Posted 2011-07-02T15:07:10+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
 
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