Author Topic: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood  (Read 4898 times)

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Offline Max Fracas

  • Posts: 90
Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« on: May 09, 2018, 10:00 PM »
My better half and I have been renovating our retirement home.  We’re probably about 90% at this point.  One project remaining is the staircase to our two upstairs bedrooms.  It was carpeted and we wanted to change to hardwood. 

I’ll show my ignorance here by asking whether I should pull the current construction-grade 2x12 treads and replace them with hardwood treads.  Or should I keep the 2x12s and just install hardwood treads on top of them? 

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Online Peter_C

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Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2018, 10:09 PM »
Hardwood is NOT ideal for stairs. Looks great, but wearing socks...means falls. We had to move our parents into a single level home after my father fell down the carpeted stairs. My sister put stick down carpets treads on because her aging dog fell on her hardwood stairs.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 5065
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2018, 10:16 PM »
Hardwood is NOT ideal for stairs. Looks great, but wearing socks...means falls. We had to move our parents into a single level home after my father fell down the carpeted stairs. My sister put stick down carpets treads on because her aging dog fell on her hardwood stairs.

I had the same situation...situation solved using Traffic AS.

Online Peter_C

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Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2018, 12:31 AM »
I had the same situation...situation solved using Traffic AS.
I am a huge fan of Bona Traffic HD. Did a little reading on the Anti-slip version, but haven't ever seen it. Read it was noticeable, but I guess if it works. Hardwood stair treads pre-manufactured usually have a lip on them to cover the current stair tread. Pre-finished or not is a question, and also if they can come with anti-slip already applied.

Cheese how sticky are yours with socks on?

For my aging parents stairs are NOT an option, and although I could have gotten a stair chair setup for free, the safest decision was a single level home, with no major transitions. I have nailed my butt hard on carpeted stairs even.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 5065
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2018, 01:47 AM »

Cheese how sticky are yours with socks on?


Living in the tundra...socks are an absolute necessity year round.  Traffic AS rocks.

I replaced all of the original treads & risers with maple items, and then applied 3 coats of Traffic.

Unfortunately, my wife, her friend and one of our dogs all slipped on the stairs, however that was all operator error until of coarse I slipped on the stairs, then it became project #1.  [smile]

I applied 2 coats of Traffic AS probably about 5-6 years ago and it still works. Very, very happy with the results. High recommend. The stuff has a shelf life though of around 18 months before it hardens in the bottle like a rock.

Offline PaulH99

  • Posts: 115
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2018, 05:33 AM »
@Cheese Two questions:

1. Did you spray on the Traffic AS or did you roll/brush it on?
2. What did you use on the treads before the Traffic AS to prep the surface?
-Paul
CT 26 • DF 500 • ETS 125 • KS 120 • OF 1400 • PS 420 • RO 125 • TS 55 R

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 5065
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2018, 07:56 AM »
@Cheese Two questions:

1. Did you spray on the Traffic AS or did you roll/brush it on?
2. What did you use on the treads before the Traffic AS to prep the surface?

Hey Paul, I applied the Traffic AS with one of these pads. This particular one has a foam padded handle that is rotatable 360º and will lock in any position. It makes getting onto tight areas easy. They're cheap...think $4-$5.



2. The treads already had 3 coats of Traffic HD on them so I just lightly sanded the treads with 180 or 240 just to give the surface some tooth. The Traffic AS dries really fast so you'll easily be able to get 2 coats on in one day. That way you don't need to sand between coats. I think I recoated mine within a couple of hours.

The stuff is tough also, it will indent rather than peel off. Here's a shot of a tread showing what happens when a 90# Golden uses the stairs every day. Those are indentations ONLY, no material was removed. I'm way impressed with the stuff. [cool]



Here's a closeup.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 08:09 AM by Cheese »

Offline PaulH99

  • Posts: 115
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2018, 09:32 AM »
@Cheese Very nice!

So you started with three coats of HD and then two coats of AS on top? Looking at Bona's web site they said to use one coat of their primer and two coats of AS. Was there a reason behind your using so many coats?
-Paul
CT 26 • DF 500 • ETS 125 • KS 120 • OF 1400 • PS 420 • RO 125 • TS 55 R

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 5065
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2018, 09:52 AM »
@Cheese Very nice!

So you started with three coats of HD and then two coats of AS on top? Looking at Bona's web site they said to use one coat of their primer and two coats of AS. Was there a reason behind your using so many coats?

I originally coated the stairs with the 3 coats of Traffic HD and figured the project was completed. Well, then reality set in and people and dogs started slipping on the stairs.  [eek] 
So then I had to add the Traffic AS to the mix. If I were doing this again, I'd just put the Traffic HD on the risers and use the AS on the treads. [smile]

So, I actually experienced a before and after situation. The before was dangerous, the after was a God send. Before I came up with the Traffic AS solution, my wife was bound & determined to carpet the maple stairs I had just installed.  [crying] [crying]

Offline leakyroof

  • Posts: 2197
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2018, 09:53 AM »
@Cheese Very nice!

So you started with three coats of HD and then two coats of AS on top? Looking at Bona's web site they said to use one coat of their primer and two coats of AS. Was there a reason behind your using so many coats?
  I'm guessing it's related to a 90 lb dog...... [wink]
Not as many Sanders as PA Floor guy.....

Offline Max Fracas

  • Posts: 90
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2018, 01:17 PM »
Great info on using Traffic AS to help avoid slips.  I’ll plan on doing that.

Anyone have thoughts on my original question?  Should I take off the 2x12 construction treads and install the hardwood on the directly on the stringers?  Or should I leave the 2x12s in place and overlay the hardwood treads?

Thanks!

Online Peter_C

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Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2018, 02:26 PM »
What hardwood treads do you plan to use? How much lip do they have?

You may need to switch to a thinner plywood tread.

Offline PaulH99

  • Posts: 115
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2018, 02:30 PM »
The best thing to do is measure the height from tread-to-tread after taking the carpet off. If you find that the top-most and bottom-most steps have a different spacing than the rest, you'll have your answer.

Given that carpeting plus the pad adds around 3/4" of height to each step, you'll likely need to use a multi-tool to cut the overlapping "nose" off of the 2x12 treads so they're flush with the risers, then lay a 3/4" thick tread on top. You'll certainly want to put a finished riser on as well, but this can be as simple as quarter-inch thick plywood finished how you like. No-one will see the edges and it will clean up the face of the riser and whatever mess was leftover from cutting the nose off of the 2x12 tread.
-Paul
CT 26 • DF 500 • ETS 125 • KS 120 • OF 1400 • PS 420 • RO 125 • TS 55 R

Offline Peter Halle

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Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2018, 02:49 PM »
@PaulH99 correctly thru some information into the mix.  Your individual stair height should be constant from the bottom to the top. 

Peter

Offline dallas8338

  • Posts: 12
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2018, 03:25 PM »
I've done this to my house- it's not fun no matter how you do it.

I would not remove your existing treads.  You'll most likely find that your risers have dados cut in them for the tread- so if you remove them completely you'd never be able to exactly match the existing profile with your new hardwood. 

I found that a multi-tool was great for getting into the corners when cutting off the nosing, but terrible for the whole job.  I used a jigsaw and had great results.  A quick sanding (the lumber was construction grade SPF) and you're ready to install the hardwood.  You'll also need to fill in the dado from the tread with wood putty- I used the Rock Hard water putty stuff.

There are more things to consider than what's been listed already- such as the order of install, are you putting the risers on first (don't try to paint the construction grade wood that's there) or the treads (each has its advantages), are you ok with nail holes and putty showing or would you be ok with only using adhesive, etc.

Quick question- are you doing this to match the lower lever floor, or the upper level?  Consideration needs to be placed on the difference between step heights.  There's a very small window to work with, I'm thinking 3/8" difference max.  If you've doing this to match hardwood on both levels, then you should be good (since you added the same height on both levels and you're raising the height on each stair tread everything will be the same height difference).  You'll also need to make sure the hardwood you're selecting has floor nosing available as well.

I'll try to add some pictures of the process I went through.  I don't remember if I have any construction photos, but I can at least snap a few pics of the final results- maybe that will help you with your decision.   
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 04:58 PM by dallas8338 »

Offline Bob D.

  • Posts: 820
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2018, 04:03 PM »
This thread couldn't have been more timely. I have been thinking of removing the carpeting on the rough stairs that lead down into our unfinished basement and installing something a little nicer looking. I've seen those oak tread/riser kits and have wondered if that's a viable option. I know what's under the carpet because I can see the underside of the stair.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Peter Halle

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Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2018, 04:30 PM »
I doubt that if the treads have construction grade 2 x material for treads that they are dadoed in the skirt boards.  Uusally ( depending on geographic location of course) if the threads are 2 x then the stairs were built on site.

Peter

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 5065
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2018, 04:51 PM »
Should I take off the 2x12 construction treads and install the hardwood on the directly on the stringers?  Or should I leave the 2x12s in place and overlay the hardwood treads?

I yanked the fir treads off the stairway and replaced them with maple treads directly on the stringers. One less interface to worry about coming loose at some time in the future. Each new maple tread was fastened to the stringers with construction adhesive and 6 each wood screws. The wood screw holes were then plugged with Jatoba plugs.

I kept the fir risers but veneered 1/8" thick birds-eye maple to the front of them.

I'd highly recommend purchasing a tread template. It'll save you HOURS of time.

http://www.acmetools.com/shop/tools/bullet-tools-bt91-0048

Photo 1: Original fir stairs.

Photo 2: Fir treads removed and maple veneered onto the risers.

Photo 3: The finished maple stairs
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 04:55 PM by Cheese »

Offline Max Fracas

  • Posts: 90
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2018, 07:39 PM »
Thanks for all the input!  @dallas8338, the stairs will join lower and upper levels floored with hardwoods.   @Cheese, good advice on the stair template. 

Looks like I could go either way and remove the 2x12 treads or leave them in place and just overlay new treads.  When I get back to the house (it’s in Louisiana and I’m working in California) I’ll measure to see whether overlaying treads will allow me to match the height of the hardwood floor on the upper level.  Thanks again.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 5065
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2018, 08:40 AM »
@Cheese, good advice on the stair template. 

Hey Max,
FWIW...When I rebuilt the stairs 16-17 years ago, there was only one supplier of the template and they were charging over $350 for it.  Considering I had already purchased all of the maple treads for only $400, I had a hard time justifying purchasing the template, so I didn't use one.  [oops]   

I'LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!!!  [crying]   [crying]

The templates are now made by several manufacturers and the prices have radically dropped. Now it's a no-brainer.  [big grin]

Offline PaulH99

  • Posts: 115
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #20 on: May 12, 2018, 08:01 PM »
@Cheese You can't just throw those pictures up without telling us how you did the lighting. Inquiring minds want to know!  [big grin]
-Paul
CT 26 • DF 500 • ETS 125 • KS 120 • OF 1400 • PS 420 • RO 125 • TS 55 R

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 5065
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #21 on: May 12, 2018, 10:57 PM »
@Cheese You can't just throw those pictures up without telling us how you did the lighting. Inquiring minds want to know!  [big grin]

Hey Paul, that was almost 18 years ago and it is painful to remember.  [poke]

Those were at the time individual 5mm LEDs and as you can see from the photos, they have a distinct purple/blue tint which in my present world, would be completely unacceptable. Eighteen years ago proper bining of LEDs was unheard of...thus the purple cast. At the time it was a heck of a lot better than light bulbs.  [tongue]

Even worse, all 15 LEDs needed 2 wires to function properly so within that stainless railing were 30 individual wires which needed to start somewhere that was correct and end somewhere that was correct. That was the tough part. My head still hurts thinking about it. Nowadays we’d build a circuit board for the LEDs and go forth. Easy peasy.

Offline PaulH99

  • Posts: 115
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2018, 07:15 AM »
Wow 18 years ago... You're right that LED technology has come a long way. I remember hand-building circuits with red LEDs back in the 1980's and being thrilled when other colors (green, blue, and white) became available. High lumen output and CRI were unheard of at the time.

If I were to make an illuminated rail like that today, I'd probably go with dimmable LED tape wired into a controller compatible with the Hue ecosystem.

Hmmm... Now I'm getting some ideas for when I re-do our staircase. This just become more complex and more expensive!  [eek]
-Paul
CT 26 • DF 500 • ETS 125 • KS 120 • OF 1400 • PS 420 • RO 125 • TS 55 R

Offline Cheese

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Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #23 on: May 13, 2018, 09:43 AM »

If I were to make an illuminated rail like that today, I'd probably go with dimmable LED tape wired into a controller compatible with the Hue ecosystem.

I'll check out the Hue ecosystem, I know nothing about it.

I purchased most of the stainless railing parts from Wagner. Terrific people to do business with.  [thumbs up] [thumbs up] [thumbs up]
Definitely three thumbs up.

With the advent of LED tape, I'd probably travel down this path next time.


https://shop.wagnercompanies.com/slotted-top-rail-gr31904

And here is their newest addition, Lumen Rail...could be interesting, but I'll bet it's real spendy. Everything's in 316 stainless.  [doh]

http://www.wagnerarchitectural.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/LumenrailBrochure_FNL1-1.pdf
« Last Edit: May 13, 2018, 09:55 AM by Cheese »

Offline DeformedTree

  • Posts: 187
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2018, 08:17 PM »
They make rubber stair treads that are designed to go over 2x12 treads.

See companies like.  Roppe

Maybe not a fine look for a grand staircase, but again not to offend carpet lovers but almost anything looks better than carpet.   The rubber will last forever, and no fall hazard, and has some softness.  And for your case it's an easy retrofit.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 5065
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #25 on: May 21, 2018, 09:52 PM »
They make rubber stair treads that are designed to go over 2x12

Maybe not a fine look for a grand staircase, but again not to offend carpet lovers but almost anything looks better than carpet.   The rubber will last forever, and no fall hazard, and has some softness.  And for your case it's an easy retrofit.

Sorry to offend but unless you’re developing an industrial workplace, the rubber treads are horrific in a typical family environment. Practical yes... but God awful ugly in a normal residence.

I’ll take exception with your statement, “but almost anything looks better than carpet.” and add, except rubber treads.

Offline DeformedTree

  • Posts: 187
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #26 on: May 21, 2018, 11:02 PM »
They make rubber stair treads that are designed to go over 2x12

Maybe not a fine look for a grand staircase, but again not to offend carpet lovers but almost anything looks better than carpet.   The rubber will last forever, and no fall hazard, and has some softness.  And for your case it's an easy retrofit.

Sorry to offend but unless you’re developing an industrial workplace, the rubber treads are horrific in a typical family environment. Practical yes... but God awful ugly in a normal residence.

I’ll take exception with your statement, “but almost anything looks better than carpet.” and add, except rubber treads.

Rubber can look very good, and as I mentioned, it may not be the look one wants in their main staircase, but for staircases to basements and such it's a great solution. But also if planned they do work well in a main stair case people see.  The biggest thing with carpet stairs is it's just plane un-safe.  Had this as a child, fell down them a lot, as an adult living in places with carpeted stairs still just as un-safe. No positive foot placement with carpet, lots of slipping.  Wood stairs can be too smooth too, but at least when you put your foot down it plants properly, no rolling of ankles like with carpet.

I get some people like carpeted stair look, and for sure wood treads with a carpet running has a particular look that fits, but having fallen down stairs due to carpet and had way too many close calls as I got older I would never recommend anyone carpet a Stairway. Carpet has a place, just not on stairs.

Found This which covers some of the issues.  Sure as your falling carpet is softer to fall on, but I prefer just not falling in the first place.

Offline JimD

  • Posts: 348
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2018, 07:47 PM »
If the existing treads are not dado'd into the skirt boards you can remove and replace them.  But you need the rise to vary no more than 3/8 of an inch over the staircase to meet code.  Rise should also be no more than 7.75 inches.  These are the requirements in my area, yours may be different.  Treads are typically 1 inch and construction lumber 1.5 inches.  So you could be changing the rise of the bottom stair by .5 inches.  If the others are consistent, the only other one that could change is the top. 

If the existing treads are dado'd or the rise if going to vary too much with replacement treads, you can cover them.  I did this two houses ago.  I used 3/8 inch thick flooring, cut off the nosing of the construction lumber treads, glued and nailed on new oak nosings, and filled and painted the low grade plywood risers.  If you go white risers with clear finish treads, you can do a lot of caulking and filing of small cracks without it being noticable.  Clear finish risers and skirts will result in a need for more accuracy.  I cut the nosing off with a circular saw and handsaw.  I did not have have an oscillating saw then, I would do the ends with it now.  It was messy and not terribly easy but we liked the end result.

We had and oak stair case in that house, the next one, and have two in the current house.  We had no problem with slips and falls.  I'm not saying bona high traction isn't a decent idea, just several decades in my houses haven't been problematic.  Handrails have saved us from any falls when somebody looses their balance.  I put normal poly on all these staircases. 

Offline TooManytoys

  • Posts: 16
Re: Changing stairs from carpet to hardwood
« Reply #28 on: July 15, 2018, 09:49 PM »
I did this about 8 years ago in our raised ranch.  It all depends how your rise and consistency of rise fits into the local codes.  With doing tile on the half way landing and hardwood on the first and second floors things got interesting.  The upper stairway was factory built and with the changes in elevation of the landing and top floor I was able to add treads with 1/4" ply to face the risers after cutting off the original tread noses.

I ended up just building the lower staircase to get all the rises into code.  In hind site, I should have done that with the upper staircase too.  The factory built stair case actually didn't meet code due to the maximum variation, so I had to adjust the height of one thread so everything would be in spec.  I couldn't believe a factory built stair would have that variation, but the inspector said he had seen that in the houses built in our house timeframe.