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:
- How to Remodel Carpeted Stairs with Wood RetroTreads
RetroTread remodeling overview, installation options, staining and finishing.
- 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.
- 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.
- RetroTread Stair Remodel – Landing Tread to Carpet Floor Transition
Fitting the final tread under the upstairs door jambs and carpet floor transition moulding.
- 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:
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:
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 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:
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.
Place the square against the tread nose, then slide the square across the nose while holding a pencil against the end of the rule:
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:
Partial cut through the stair nose:
The circular saw can’t cut all the way to the stringer:
The solution is to cut the nose in half with a jigsaw to break the ends off the tread:
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:
Dress the Treads
Nails and nose shards remain after breaking off the nosing:
Break off any nails by bending back & forth with pliers. The nail will break off at the stringer:
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:
The tread is even with the riser:
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:
I sanded and vacuumed the dust as I worked my way up the stairs:
Old carpeted stairs after removing the carpet, cutting off tread noses, sanding and vacuuming clean:
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