How to Cover Stairs with Hardwood


Staircases are the stages for grand entrances made by beautiful brides and excited girls dressed for their first proms, as well as toddlers clad in their pajamas making their way to bed. Stairs can appear a little worn and drab, especially after you have installed hardwood on your floors. It is time to remove that faded carpet and cover the stairs in hardwood to match the floor. This installation is painstaking but not difficult. Careful measuring and attention to detail will produce a beautiful staircase.

Things You'll Need

  • Pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Gloves
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Saw
  • Straight edge
  • Chalk line
  • Jigsaw
  • Vacuum
  • Hardwood
  • Floor nail gun
  • Stair nosing
  • Construction adhesive
  • Trowel
  • Remove the carpet by pulling it loose from the tack strip and discard. Pull the padding loose from the stair treads and riser edge. Pry the tack strip up off the stair tread by tapping the pry bar with a hammer. Wear gloves---the pins in the tack strip are sharp and can cut your hands. Remove any stray staples that remain in the stair tread with a small straight-blade screwdriver and pliers.

  • Trim the front edge off the stair tread even with the riser. Measure from beneath the stair tread in several places, and transfer the measurement to the top of the stair tread. Draw a cutting line on the top edge of the stair tread with a straight edge or pop a chalk line. Measure each stair tread; the distance from the riser can vary.

  • Set the circular saw to the depth of the riser. Use a new blade to avoid splintering the stair tread. Cut as far as you can with the circular saw, and then finish the cut with a jigsaw. This avoids damaging the walls at each edge of the stair tread. Vacuum the stairs to remove all sawdust and other debris.

  • Begin at the bottom of the staircase. Cut the hardwood to the length of the riser. Measure in several different areas---staircases that have been in place for some time tend to vary in the side-to-side measurements. Fit the hardwood pieces in place to check for proper fit. Place the bottom piece of hardwood across the riser with the groove down. Nail through the tongue portion into the stair riser. Continue until the riser is covered and the top is even with the stair tread. Face-nail the final piece of hardwood close to the top of the stair tread. These nails are covered with the stair nosing.

  • Trim the stair nosing to fit the side-to-side dimensions of the stair tread. Attach the nosing to the stair tread with construction adhesive.

  • Cut the pieces of hardwood for the stair tread in the same manner as the riser. Use full pieces to cover the stair tread, and trim the final piece to width if necessary. Dry-fit the hardwood to ensure a good fit. Spread construction adhesive on the tread with a notched trowel. Press the hardwood into the construction adhesive beginning at the nosing. Some styles of nosing allow the hardwood to slide beneath the nosing, and some are designed to abut the hardwood against the nosing.

  • Continue up the staircase, completing each step in the same manner until reaching the top. Trim the edge of the landing with molding.

Tips & Warnings

  • Measure each riser and stair tread carefully to accomplish a professional installation.
  • Hardwood or laminate must be glued to the stair treads to avoid movement of the hardwood.

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  • Photo Credit wooden staircase image by Heng kong Chen from
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