Stair Renovation- Part 2

Thanks for coming along on to Part 2 of my Stair Renovation! If you missed Part 1, you can find it here! In this post, I will go into a little more detail as to how I removed the carpet from my stairs.

I’ll start by saying that I actually started this project on Easter Sunday with my DIY Partner in Crime, Becca. She is always down for a craft, from cheap and easy to messy and time consuming, and I have learned a lot from her. I wanted to make a formal introduction, because if you follow along, I’m sure you will see her in many of my posts to come.

Anyways, all of that to say, Becca was a tremendous help to me on the day I decided to get started on this doozy of a project.

What you’ll need/want to have-

I started this project by buying an inexpensive tub with a lid like the one below from the Dollar Store. My thought process with this was to have something sturdier than a trash bag as a receptacle to dispose of carpet padding, staples, nails, tack strips, and anything else pokey and full of tetanus.

For this project, the tub is a bonus, but you will absolutely need a box cutter/blade of some sort, a pry bar, pliers, and a hammer. I’ll also add, we did not wear work gloves, but that was probably irresponsible.

CYA- You should wear gloves or be prepared for the numerous pokes and prods that we got (blood was shed).

Checking what is underneath-

If you are planning to take carpet off of stairs, the first thing I would do, is peel up a tiny bit of the carpet in the corner of a stair, where the tread meets the riser, to see the condition of the wood underneath. Luckily for me, I was up for a longer term project, so I didn’t really mind too much, no matter what I found underneath! As you can see below, I did find a rather unpleasant gap between the riser and the wall, but I have a solution for that in posts to come. The treads were also covered in paint splatter and spackling from a remodel before my time here.

Cutting and removing the carpet-

Nevertheless, she persisted. We started by making a cut across the bottom of the landing at the top stair. Many of you may be lucky enough to be able to cut all the way to the doorway/your designated transition area, but I was not. This landing was not made of the same wood as the rest of the stairs when I peeked underneath, so I was afraid to uncover it. I opted to leave the carpeted stair at the top as kind of a transition to the rest of my upstairs area. I suppose that is what I landing is supposed to be, but now I guess mine is set apart even more distinctly with my carpet introduction.

From this top cut, we carefully peeled (read: tugged with all of our might) at the corners of the carpet, careful to avoid the razor sharp, haphazardly placed staples lining the edge of the stairs. Pro- tip: fold the carpet up into itself after the first stair so that you can grip the less dangerous and pokey side of the carpet. From here, go three or four stairs down, depending on how heavy your carpet is getting, and make a cut to tear away the piece that you have been separating from the stairs. Making this cut every few stairs will help you have smaller, more manageable pieces of carpet- trust me, it gets heavy quickly!

Removing the baseboards-

As we made our way down the stairs, we found that the baseboard were getting more and more in the way, so being capable young women, we just yanked them off and labeled the back of them with a sharpie. It is kind of tricky seeing as there are many different shapes and sizes, but despite this, they all look very similar. I will have to report back in a later post whether my label system actually did its job… Worst case scenario, I do love a good puzzle.

Removing the carpet padding-

Once you have all of the carpet removed all the way down, you can use your gloves to pull up the carpet pad. Be especially careful of stray staples during this part and absolutely create a “shoes required” buffer zone around the area. This is really where I found the aforementioned tub to come in handy. The carpet pad tended to rip in many places so the tub was a good place to store all of the scraps and caught the staples without fear of poking through a trash bag.

Removing the staples and tack strips-

The last, and quite possibly the most important and tedious step in this process is next: removing the stuck staples and tack strips. I found that there were more staples left in the stairs than came out with the padding. For this step, I used my pliers to grab on to the more raised staples and disposed of them carefully into my plastic tub. For the more stubborn staples, I pried underneath them with a flathead screwdriver to loosen them and lifted with the pliers once again from there.

Tons and tons (more than you think) of these are just waiting to be stepped on!
Here is the best way that I found to remove a loosened staple. Grab it and the carpet padding as close to the wood as you can and pull!

We found the tack strips to be far more difficult. Now is the time for hardcore tools. I wouldn’t say that we ever actually mastered this part, but we did manage. We pushed the pry bar under the strip, as close to the nail holding it in place as you can possibly get (it gets harder to get under the closer to the nail), and carefully hammer the pry bar underneath. Then use your leverage with the bar to lift it all up. If you have gloves, you can break sections off of the tack strip as you lift; I would not recommend trying to break or pull on that tack strip with bare hands… it’s literally made of razor sharp spikes.

After double and triple checking the stairs, I swept up the stairs and surrounding areas and lifted the shoes required buffer zone. If you missed any staples, you will almost certainly find them with either your sand paper in the next post, or with your feet…hopefully the former…

I hope that this was helpful for any of you thinking of doing a stair remodel. This is just the beginning of the process, but it is all downhill from here!

Stay tuned for the Part 3 which will show the sanding process, testing stain, cutting wood and painting!

Have fun with your next project, whatever it may be. Let me know what you are working on in the comments below.

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