Staircase Makeover: A New DIY Venture Begins

One evening late last week, the Mister and I found ourselves without something on our to-do list, so we finally embarked on the staircase project that I posted about 2 weeks ago.  It took longer than expected to start this project, but I needed my man’s muscles and braun to assist on the beginning stages.

If you remember back, the removing of the carpet was one of my DIY project goals for 2012 and I’m excited that its finally begun.  I initially wanted to remove/replace all the carpet on the second floor (yet it’s not within the budget), but removing the carpet on the stairs is going to be a big improvement since that gets the most traffic. Even though I’ve never been happy with the carpet, it was in place more for safety than aesthetics – now it’s time to say ba-bye!

We’re lucky to have real wood on the stairs instead of plywood, but there are still alot of details to giving these stairs an entire new look, so I’m going to break the process into a few posts. Plus they’re not nearly done and I couldn’t wait to share the “happenings” with you till the end.

Take a look…

Project Details

Duration of Phase One: 1.5 hours
Phase 1 Difficulty: Medium
How Many People Needed: 1

The first phase includes steps to remove the carpet, remove the carpet tack strips, and how to transition the wood steps to the 2nd floor carpet.  But before we begin, here are the supplies that I used.

  • Hammer
  • Cats Paw
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Muscles :)

For this stair makeover, we started by removing the carpet. Every two steps, we used an X-acto blade and cut the carpet where the tread and riser meet. This made the process more manageable with smaller pieces of carpet instead of one large piece.

As we went along and took the carpet off of every two stairs, we removed the carpet tack strips with a hammer and cats paw.  A cats paw is a great tool that we use for alot of projects.  For the stairs it worked well to get under the tack strips, yet didn’t damage the wood on the stair tread.  I highly recommend it :)

Watch your toes on those tack strips – they’re sharp!

Once the carpet was removed from the entire stair case, it was time to remove the staples from the carpet pad…  and boy, there were alot of them! For this step, it’s best to use a needle nose plier and/or a flat head screw driver.

The last step for this first phase was to cleanly transition the existing carpet and the newly exposed wood stair at the second floor landing.  Using an X-acto knife, we trimmed the carpet so there would be enough to wrap around the top step.

It didn’t need to be perfectly cut, but it was important that there was enough carpet to wrap it around the top stair nosing.

The carpet pad also needed to be trimmed.  Using a scissor, we trimmed the pad to be at the same edge as the stair nosing.  Trimming it at this point instead of wrapping it around the nosing (like the carpet) made it easier to staple the carpet under the nosing.

Lastly, using a staple gun we stapled the carpet under the top nosing.  It’s important to use longer length staples so each goes securely through the carpet and into the wood.

The result is a clean transition from wood to carpet…

There is still much more to do to get these stairs to completion, but we’re on our way.  Many of you have asked what we plan on doing on the stairs (thank you for taking interest) – stain, paint, stair runner…  so many options.

After lots of thought, I plan on staining the treads a dark walnut finish, painting the risers and balusters a crisp white, and painting the banister and newel post a taupe color (same as my kitchen – BM berkshire beige). Wouldn’t that be amazing?!

1. source unknown 2. Centsational Girl 3. Benjamin Moore Berkshire Beige 4. Walnut stain

Again, here’s a peak at the changes from phase one.

O, Boy, do we have alot of work ahead of us.  Well I better get going…

Do you have wood or carpet on your stairs? If you have carpet, have you ever thought of changing it to wood?  Have you ever embarked on a stair makeover?

 I link my projects to some of these parties: Skip to My Lou, Dittle Dattle, Between Naps on the Porch, Today’s Creative Blog, Stories of A to Z, All Things Heart & Home, Savvy Southern Style, House of Hepworths, Finding Fabulous, Creation Corner, The Shabby Nest, Tatertots and Jello, Thrifty Decor Chick, Tip Junkie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. imklvr says

    No, we don’t have stairs in our home. But that’s not going to stop me from following you on your journey! LOVE the stain/paint idea you have planned! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jenna says

      Thanks Tracie! Loved the video. How did you make it? So you painted the treads instead of using stain? Any particular reason why – just wondering? I love the idea of the sisal carpet treads – looking them up right now. I might have some more questions for you as I move along – thanks again!! xo Jenna

  2. says

    We really want to do this but don’t know what’s under the carpet! If we find there’s nothing good (pretty sure there’s no nice wood!), are we stuck or can we proceed??

    • Jenna says

      Under the carpet on the steps will either be wood or plywood – both of which can be refinished, but if it’s plywood, there will be more steps to take. Check out this post by Kate of Censtational Girl and how she redid her stairs when she found plywood underneath: If you find wood under the carpet, you are a few steps ahead of the game, like me (YAY!). Just go for it…. -Jenna

    • Jenna says

      Thanks so much Suzy. If you don’t take a peak at what’s underneath, you will never know and always question. I say, do it! -Jenna

  3. says

    Hi Jenna – Seeing this post is bringing back memories. You are going to love the staircase when you are done. You have written the best tute on how to do it that I have ever seen. You show every step – no pun intended. :)

    My best- Diane

    P.S. Looks like I may be in your area a lot more over the next 4 years – My older daughter is going to go to med school in Albany.

    • Jenna says

      You are so kind Diane, thank you! I have found that readers really liked how descriptive and specific I was for this tutorial, so I appreciate you saying that. The second phase to the staircase makeover will be out tomorrow and it’s just as explanatory. I hope you will come back to take a look! xo Jenna

  4. says

    I think you wrote this post for moi! #1 on my Redoux list this summer is my horrible, awful, carpeted stairs. I have pinned a few tutorials, but never one so detailed about the carpet removal. Thank you! Also, I have pinned the exact same pictures you have for stairs examples. You are so fortunate you have real wood under your stairs. It will be gorgeous stained Walnut. That would be my 1st choice, but getting new hard wood boards is not in the DIY budget for now, so doing something magical to the subfloor is what we will be doing. I am so excited to see the next steps in this process. So is my husband. We both have equal amounts of hate directed at our carpeted stairs. It has become so bad, that we don’t even like to vac it very often. Horrible I know!!

    • Jenna says

      Hi Karen, thanks so much for the kind comment on my stair makeover. I JUST finished the next phase and a new post will be out tomorrow – don’t miss it! thanks for following along on this fun project. xo Jenna

  5. says

    LOVE your progress so far and your vision for what you want your stairs to look like–it’s going to look amazing! I can’t wait to meet you next month at Haven!

    • Jenna says

      Hi Katie, thanks so much for the kind comment on my stair makeover. I JUST finished the next phase and a new post will be out tomorrow – don’t miss it! thanks for following along on this fun project. xo Jenna

  6. Brenda says

    You inspired me to do my stairs. I just started this afternoon. When I pulled the carpet I find plywood, ugh. I am still pulling staples, but I am thinking I am going to have to paint instead of staining right?

  7. says

    I started taking the carpet of my stairs and “surprise,” I ran into carpet glue. So, I stopped. But, your foyer looks awesome! I love the colors you selected.