Carpet to Wood Stairs Remodel – Saw off Old Stair Nosing

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Carpet to Wood Stairs Remodel – Saw off Old Stair Nosing after removing the carpet. The next steps in the wood RetroTread stair remodel are:

  • Remove the carpet, underlayment, tack strips and staples.
  • Saw the nosing off the old stair treads.
  • Sand the paint over-spray off the old treads and risers so the construction adhesive will have a clean bonding surface.

It’s a straightforward job but lot of busy work.

Table of Contents

This is a multi-part series:

  1. How to Remodel Carpeted Stairs with Wood RetroTreads
    RetroTread remodeling overview, installation options, staining and finishing.
  2. Carpet to Wood Stairs Remodel – Saw off Old Stair Nosing (you are here)
    Remove the carpet, saw off the old stair noses and sanding the stairs.
  3. Carpet Stair Remodel – Measure and Saw Wood RetroTreads
    Stair tread template/gauge tool, miter and table saw work, dry fitting the new treads and risers.
  4. RetroTread Stair Remodel – Landing Tread to Carpet Floor Transition
    Fitting the final tread under the upstairs door jambs and carpet floor transition moulding.
  5. Carpet to Wood Stair Remodel: How to Install RetroTreads and Risers
    Install the new treads and riser with polyurethane construction adhesive and brad nails.

Carpet and Underlayment Removal

The carpet is stapled to the stairs. Pull/yank it up then cut with a utility knife for trash bagging. A lot of staples will come off with the carpet while many will remain in the stairs. The amount of dirt that works it way in the carpet is shocking:

Carpet to Wood Stairs Remodel - Pull Off and Cut Carpet into Sections

Carpet to Wood Stairs Remodel – Pull Off and Cut Carpet into Sections

Important: Leave excess carpet at the top of the stair landing. It will be trimmed to fit the stair landing tread later.

Carpet underlayment is flimsy and tufts remain where it’s stapled to the treads. Pry up the staples with a screw driver until they can be pulled with pliers:

Carpet to Stair Remodel - Remove Carpet Underlayment

Carpet to Stair Remodel – Remove Carpet Underlayment

Feel around for broken and overlooked staples, especially under the stair nose. It seems there always a missed staple.

Vacuum up the dirt as you go. Remove the carpet tack strips with a pry bar and hammer:

Carpet to Wood Stair Remodel - Remove Tack Strip

Carpet to Wood Stair Remodel – Remove Tack Strip

Carpet to Wood Stairs Remodel – Saw off Old Stair Nosing

The old stair nosing is sawn even with the risers before installing RetroTreads. This method retains the original stair tread depth and the RetroTreads won’t extend past the stair stringer for the best appearance. My old pre-fabricated stairs have standard stair dimensions with 10 1/2″ deep treads including the 1 1/4″ nose. The treads will be 9″ deep after the nosing is cut off:

Wood to Carpet Stair Remodel - Saw Nosing off Old Stair Treads

Wood to Carpet Stair Remodel – Saw Nosing off Old Stair Treads

Mark the Stair Nose for Sawing

The easiest way to mark the riser on the stair nose is:

  • Loosen the lock nut on the combination square.
  • Hold the square against the stair nose.
  • Adjust the steel rule until it’s against the riser face.
  • Tighten the brass nut to lock the rule in place.
Combination Square set to Depth of Stair Nose

Combination Square set to Depth of Stair Nose

Place the square against the tread nose, then slide the square across the nose while holding a pencil against the end of the rule:

Young RetroTread Remodel - Mark Depth of Stair Nose for Sawing even with Riser

Young RetroTread Remodel – Mark Depth of Stair Nose for Sawing even with Riser

Saw off Old Stair Nosing

Saw the old stair nose following the pencil line. A 7 1/4″ circular saw, jigsaw, Sawzall or a 4 1/2″ compact circular saw like I’m using will do the job, but I don’t recommend a jigsaw or Sawzall because the thin blade doesn’t track well, can snag/kickback on the riser and it’s best to use a rip fence.

Adjust the circular saw blade depth to cut 1/8″ beyond the thickness of the tread to minimize the chance of a kickback. The PORTER-CABLE PCE381K 5.5 Amp 4-1/2″ compact circular saw includes a rip fence and is easy to control when making the initial plunge cut:

Young RetroTread Stair Remodel - Rip Cut Stair Nose with Circular Saw

Young RetroTread Stair Remodel – Rip Cut Stair Nose with Circular Saw

Partial cut through the stair nose:

Young RetroTread - Sawing off Carpeted Stair Nosing

Young RetroTread – Sawing off Carpeted Stair Nosing

The circular saw can’t cut all the way to the stringer:

Young RetroTread Remodel - Limit of Circular Saw Rip Cut on Stair Nose

Young RetroTread Remodel – Limit of Circular Saw Rip Cut on Stair Nose

The solution is to cut the nose in half with a jigsaw to break the ends off the tread:

Cut Stair Nosing with Jigsaw to Break Off

Cut Stair Nosing with Jigsaw to Break Off

The yellow lines indicated where the nosing is cut in half. A forward tug will cause the nose to split more or less evenly off the treads:

Carpet to Wood Stairs Remodel - Saw Nosing in Middle with Jigsaw

Carpet to Wood Stairs Remodel – Saw Nosing in Middle with Jigsaw

Dress the Treads

Nails and nose shards remain after breaking off the nosing:

Carpeted Stairs after Nosing Cut Off - Nails and Leftover Shards

Carpeted Stairs after Nosing Cut Off – Nails and Leftover Shards

Break off any nails by bending back & forth with pliers. The nail will break off at the stringer:

Nail in Stair Tread Nosing

Nail in Stair Tread Nosing

Shards remain where the end of the nosing was broken/split off the tread. It’s short work with a hammer and wood chisel to trim the tread even with the riser:

Carpeted Stair Remodel - Remove Nosing Shard with Wood Chisel

Carpeted Stair Remodel – Remove Nosing Shard with Wood Chisel

The tread is even with the riser:

Stair Nosing Shard Removed with Wood Chisel

Stair Nosing Shard Removed with Wood Chisel

Sand the Old Stairs

Sand all paint, drywall mud splatters, etc. off the old stairs because a clean surface is required for the construction adhesive bond. A random orbit sander is compact and won’t try to run away like a belt sander. 80 grit sandpaper works well for paint stripping and leaves a smooth surface:

Carpet to Wood Stair Remodel - Sand Off Paint with Random Orbit Sander

Carpet to Wood Stair Remodel – Sand Off Paint with Random Orbit Sander

I sanded and vacuumed the dust as I worked my way up the stairs:

Stairs after Sanding Off Paint

Stairs after Sanding Off Paint

Old carpeted stairs after removing the carpet, cutting off tread noses, sanding and vacuuming clean:

Carpet to Wood Stairs Remodel - Tread Nosings Sawn Off and Stairs Sanded

Carpet to Wood Stairs Remodel – Tread Nosings Sawn Off and Stairs Sanded

Next up: Carpet Stair Remodel – Measure and Saw Wood RetroTreads.

Thanks,

Bob Jackson

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