How to Fix Stairs That Used to Have Carpet

Stephanie Daniels

It is possible to convert stairs that were once covered with carpet back into a beautifully attractive wooden staircase. Often the remodeling process to remove the carpet is not completed correctly and the stairs appear rough and sloppy where glue and tack marks are left behind.

Replacing or refinishing the underlying wooden stairs helps remove such imperfections on the wood to make the stairs appear new.

  1. Sand the entire surface of each stair step riser and tread. Sand the steps until you have removed all glue marks. If any tacks were left behind when the carpet was removed, set the tacks into the surface of the wood with a hammer and nail set so you can cover the tacks with wood putty. Wear your face mask and safety goggles as you sand to prevent eye and throat irritation.

  2. Cover holes with wood putty. Apply the wood putty with a putty knife and cover the holes. Use only a tiny bit of putty, just enough to fill the holes and allow the putty to dry a few hours before sanding again to remove bumps created by the putty.

  3. Wipe the tread and riser of each step with a piece of tack cloth or a damp cloth to remove the dust left behind from sanding. You do not want dust left behind when you start staining and coating your stairs.

  4. Stain each step, starting at the top of the stairs and moving down. You will have to keep traffic off the stairs while the wood stain dries, so you may consider painting only half of each step so that you can still use the stairs. Apply the stain with a paintbrush and, when done, immediately wash the stain out of the brushes with paint thinner before the stain dries and ruins the brushes.

  5. Allow the stain to dry for 24 hours. Check the wood stain with a fingertip on the top of a riser where a mark would not be as noticeable. If the stain is still tacky, allow it to continue drying for another four to eight hours.

  6. Coat the stairs with several coats of clear polyurethane once the stain is dry. The polyurethane coating will protect the wood stain and prevent scratches on the wood from appearing as quickly.

  7. Tip

    Open windows and use box fans to ventilate and circulate the air while you stain and clear-coat the stairs.