You can have beautiful oak steps even if your stairs were built of a different wood species.

How to Remove Carpet From Stairs and Add Oak Steps

by Matt Brown

Many homeowners prefer the look and feel of oak steps to carpet. In some instances, carpet is removed to reveal beautiful hardwood treads that can be refinished. Oak is a durable hardwood commonly used in stair construction, but even if the stairs beneath your carpeting were never meant to see the light of day or are made of a softer, less durable wood, you can add oak steps using a few basic carpentry tools and skills.

Remove the carpet beginning at the top of the stairs. Pry off any metal trim pieces that may be holding the carpet in place, cut the carpet near the top of the top of the stairs and begin pulling it off the stairs working your way towards the bottom.

Pull the carpet forcefully from the tack strips holding it in place at the junction of each tread and riser. If there are tacks or staples in the carpet at the nosing of each tread, remove them with pliers.

Pull up the carpet padding on each tread. Remove any staples left behind with pliers. Pry up the tack strips with a pry bar.

Cut the rounded nosing off of each tread. Nosing typically overhangs the risers by 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Depending on the layout of your stairs, you can either start your cut with a circular saw at an open end or with a plunge cut in the middle of the tread. Make the bulk of the cut with a circular saw and finish it at the ends with a handsaw

Cut rectangular pieces of plywood equal to the dimensions of each riser, plus thickness of the old tread. Glue and nail the plywood to the old riser using 1/2-inch finish nails. Countersink the nails with a nail set and fill the holes with wood filler.

Cut oak treads to the size of the existing treads, accounting for a 1 1/4-inch overhang. Starting at the top stair, glue the new treads to the old treads with heavy-duty construction adhesive. Secure them further with four 1 1/2-inch finish nails in each tread. Countersink the nails and fill the holes with wood filler.

Install molding as necessary. If your stairs have an open end, you will need to install cap molding to cover the cut, exposed end of the old treads and the seam between the plywood and the riser.

Sand the wood filler smooth with 120-grit sandpaper and stain the treads as desired. Stain or paint the risers. Several coats of a strong varnish is recommended for the treads for maximum durability.

Items you will need

  • Pliers
  • Pry bar
  • Utility knife
  • Circular saw
  • Handsaw
  • 1/4-inch plywood
  • Contsruction adhesive
  • 1/2-inch finish nails
  • 1 1/2-inch finish nails
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Wood filler
  • Oak treads
  • Cap molding
  • 120-grit sandpaper


  • Depending upon how the carpet was installed, it will either come up as one large piece or separate pieces covering each adjacent tread and riser. If it is one large piece, stop occasionally to cut off the sections you have already removed in order to make it easier to work with.
  • If you are going to stain your risers, select oak plywood to achieve a finish that is consistent with the treads.


  • Wear protective gloves when removing carpet to protect your hands from tack strips, nails and staples.
  • Dust is commonly trapped under carpets. Consider wearing a dust mask when removing carpet.

About the Author

Matt Brown has been writing professionally for more than 15 years. He shares his experience in home remodeling and do-it-yourself projects with his readers. Brown earned his bachelor of arts in communications from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Photo Credits

  • David Sacks/Photodisc/Getty Images