How to Replace Carpet Stairs With Wood & Match Existing Wood Floors

About: Hi Everyone, I'm Jeremy Hoffpauir. I write instructables about unique DIY woodworking and home improvement projects. I use unique design elements with a rustic coastal style in my creations such as epoxy...

Hey Everyone, I'm Jeremy Hoffpauir.

I decided to replace my carpet with bamboo floors in my upstairs loft a few years ago in my home, which turned out great. After I completed this project and tucked the carpet on the top step into the wood transition molding, I realized I needed to replace the carpet on the stairs leading up to my loft. I explored many options on how to replace carpet stairs with wood, but each option I found was too expensive &/or did not match. After a few days of searching the Internet and getting the advice of a few friends, I figured out a way to use the same bamboo flooring on my stairs that I installed in my loft. Click Here for Video of Project

My family and I sold this home not too long after I completed this project and I forgot about it until I saw my before/after pictures of the stairs on my phone. Luckily, I kept about 40 square feet of the bamboo flooring so I built a stair tread/riser from scrap wood in my shop for demonstration purposes. The mock stair is 36″ wide, 11″ deep, and 6.75″ high with a 1″ bullnose (the part of the tread that hangs over the riser) which is close to the typical measurement of a stair. I used 6 pieces of the bamboo flooring on the mock stair. Each piece of bamboo flooring is 3.75″ wide and 36″ long.

Price Comparison & Analysis

I did a quick price comparison to replace carpet stairs with wood to show you the cost savings of using hardwood floor vs the matching stair treads/risers.

  • Stair Size:
    • Width: 36″
    • Tread: 10” minimum depth
    • Risers: 7” high, no more than 7 3/4”
  • Stair Size:
    • Stair Tread (48”x11”) = 3.67 square feet
    • Stair Riser (48”x7”) = 2.33 square feet
      • Total Square feet = 6 square feet
  • Hardwood Floor Price
    • Price per Square foot = $1.99
    • Price per stair (tread & riser) = $11.94
    • Price per stair (tread & riser) with waste = $18.21
      • Waste = 2 feet per board @ 5 boards per stair (tread & riser)
  • Hardwood Stair Tread and Riser Price
    • Price for Stair Tread ONLY: 69.99
    • Price for Stair Riser ONLY: 34.99
    • Price per stair (tread and riser) = $105.00

Tools I used in this project:

Table Saw 0690:

Dewalt Router:

1/2" roundover bit:

Liquid Nail Adhesive:

Wood Stain:

Wood Stain Sealer:

Stair measuring jig:

Step 1: Remove Carpet

The first step to replace carpet stairs with wood is to remove the carpet, carpet padding, and other hardware (staples, nails, etc.). This process can be time consuming, but it is important to get a flat surface that is free of debris. I used a box cutter to cut the edge of the carpet & padding on each stair. This made it easy to roll-up the carpet and discard it. I used a flat head screw driver and a hammer to remove the staples. Luckily, there was no glue so I didn’t need to sand each step.

Step 2: Remove Bullnose

Determine the length of your bullnose at the end of your stair tread. Next, use a jig saw or circular saw to trim the bullnose off so that the tread and riser are flush (90 degree angle). If your stairs have a wall on either side, you will not be able to remove the entire bullnose. Trim as much as you can and cut the rest with a hand saw or with a hammer/chisel. This doesn’t need to be perfectly flush – just get it as close as you can. The imperfections will be covered up at a later step.

Step 3: Stair Risers

Gather enough wood for the risers so that it is flush or slightly taller than the stair. It cannot be shorter than the thickness of your flooring. If your flooring is 1/2″ thick, the boards must be within 1/2″ of the top of your tread. In my case, it was 2 boards. Attach the boards together and place the attached boards up against the riser portion of your stair.

If the boards are slightly taller than your tread, you will want to trim off equal amounts off the top and bottom of the boards so that they are flush and the seam (the line where your flooring attaches together) is in the middle. The seam in the middle is optional, but it makes the stairs look more uniform. It is required to make the boards flush or slightly shorter than the top of the tread.

Before you trim the boards, make sure to mark the boards where they need to be cut with a pencil. It is very easy to forget which side of the board needs to be cut. You can use a table saw or circular saw with a straight edge to rip the boards. After you cut the boards to size, make sure they fit on the riser. It is ok for them to be a little short, but not shorter than the thickness of the wood.

TIP: If you are replacing an entire staircase (I presume you will), it is much easier and quicker to complete all the risers (& step 8) before moving to step 4 (treads). This allows you to get into a rhythm instead of completing 1 riser then 1 tread, which are different procedures.

Step 4: Stair Treads

Gather enough wood for the treads so that it extends over the riser the amount that your bullnose needs to be. I needed a total of 3 boards in my example. If your bullnose is 1″, make sure your boards for your tread hang over your riser at least 1″. If the hardwood flooring you are using is tongue/groove, take the measure of the tongue/groove at the end of the board because this measurement will need to be added. For example: You want a 1″ bullnose & the groove of the board is 1/4″, make sure you have at least 1 1/4″ of overhang.

Make a pencil mark on the end of the board that hangs over the riser. Remove it and trim off the tongue or groove using your table saw or circular saw. Next, get a scrap or an extra full-length board and repeat the process again on this board.

TIP: The walls on either side of the staircase will most likely not be square to your stairs. Keep this in mind when measuring the width of your risers/treads. If you plan to use moulding around your stairs, you don’t need to concern yourself with this. If not, you may want to invest in a Stair measuring jig. This tool measures the exact angle of the wall & stair and helps you to transfer this measurement to your saw to ensure your stairs fit snugly to the wall. Trust me, this tool is worth the money!!!

Step 5: Create Tread Bullnose

Use a 1/2" roundover bit & a router to roundover the top of each side of the board you just ripped in the previous step. If your boards are 1/4″ thick, use a 1/4″ roundover bit. I used a in this step, but this is not needed. Clamping the pieces down and using a router with your hand will work just as well.

Once each board has a roundover, place them together and make sure the boards make a bullnose when put together.

Place the board that goes on the end of the tread and measure the distance from the riser to the end of the roundover.

Use this measurement to rip the excess from the other board that was rounded over leaving the side that was rounded over. This piece will be attached to the underside of the top tread to make the bottom part of the bullnose.

TIP: Complete steps 5-7 for each tread before moving to step 8.

Step 6: Glue Bullnose

Remove the top/bottom piece that make up the bullnose from the stair tread and bring it to your garage or workshop. Use wood glue to glue the top/bottom of the bullnose together, the pieces, and let it dry overnight. Make sure the top/bottom pieces do not slide back or forward when tightening the clamps.

Remove the clamps and inspect the middle of the bullnose. If there are gaps in the bullnose seam, mix and saw dust from cutting these boards into a putty-like consistency. Fill the gap with this mixture and let dry for a few hours.

Step 7: Stain & Seal Bullnose

The last step is to find a suitable wood stain that matches your wood. This step may involve some trial and error to get the color right. You can mix wood stains &/or apply multiple coats to achieved your desired color. Apply the stain and let it dry according to the manufacturers instructions.

After the stain has dried, apply a sealer to the bullnose with a finish that matches your wood. If your wood has a high gloss finish, use a high-gloss sealer. If your wood has a flat/matte finish, use a flat/matte sealer. This will help maintain consistency between the bullnose and surface of the wood. I used this on my project.

Step 8: Securing the Tread & Riser

The process to secure the tread/riser are the same. I used liquid nail and applied it liberally to the bare wood on the tread/riser in a wave pattern. I then repeated the pattern in the opposite direction to increase coverage. I joined the boards together and secured the seam with a piece of painter’s tape that ran perpendicular on the board. I pushed the boards down until I felt a suction and wiggled them in place. I then nailed them with my brad nailer with 1″ nails. I used 6 brads on the riser and 6 brads on the treads.

Tools I used in this project:

Table Saw 0690:

Dewalt Router:

1/2" roundover bit:

Liquid Nail Adhesive:

Wood Stain:

Wood Stain Sealer:

Stair measuring jig:

I hope this project provided you with some value because this is, and always will be, my ultimate goal. Please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and visiting my website for more projects and other fun stuff.

Feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions. I'm happy to help!

Until next time – Imagine…Create…Share



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    6 Discussions


    3 months ago

    I have been trying to figure out what to do with steps. I am not an experienced carpenter and have been watching videos and trying to figure out how it's done. To change them from carpet to Hardwood. The rest of my house is laminate 12 millimeter I have nosing that came with the flooring but I'm not sure if I can put the laminate on the steps so I thought what can I do, you made it all so clear, so I think what I'm going to do is use stair treads and paint the backs White! Thank you so much

    1 reply

    Reply 3 months ago

    That will definitely work for sure and save lots of money.

    Thank you for commenting!!! Send me a pic of the results, I'd love to see them!


    1 year ago

    Hey how long would you say it took you to make each bullnose and complete the whole staircase? Great instructions, hopefully redoing our staircase using your post as a guide!


    2 years ago

    Clever! I've been after a frugal, yet presentable option, and this looks to be it

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you. A good friend of mine actually came up with the idea, but he told me he wouldn't actually do it on his stairs. I took the leap and it worked out. :)

    Thank you for reading!