How to Remove Wooden Stairs

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Tear down old wooden stairs to install shiny, new stairs.
Tear down old wooden stairs to install shiny, new stairs. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

If you are remodeling your home and need to remove wooden stairs to replace them, you can do so without having to hire a contractor. While the work is labor intensive and will take hours or even days to complete, it is not complicated. The project is mostly about demolition, removing the wood stairs by breaking them down. The most important concept to keep in mind is going from top to bottom so you don't find yourself stranded on the second story.

Things You'll Need

  • Dumpster
  • Utility knife
  • Dust mask
  • Safety glasses
  • Jig saw
  • Circular saw
  • Pry bar
  • Gloves
  • 15-b. sledge hammer
  • Scaffolding

Rent a dumpster to dispose of the wood stairs as you tear them down, section by section.

Cut the carpet at the top of each step using a utility knife, starting with the top step and working your way down. You should cut from wall to the railings, to avoid cutting into the wall, if applicable.

Pull up the carpet, step by step with your hands, going from the top step to the bottom step. Roll the carpet as you go down the staircase for more easy carrying and disposal into the dumpster.

Put on a dust mask and safety glasses. Cut the spindles at the base near the steps using a jig saw, again working from the top of the stairs to the bottom. Then cut the handrail every few feet to have small sections to remove from the outer stringer or frame. Throw the cut-out sections into the dumpster.

Cut into each individual step with a circular saw from where the railing was toward the opposite side, beginning with the top step. Insert a pry bar into the cut in the top step and pry it loose. Then saw the next lower step and pry it up. Work your way to each lower step until you reach the bottom.

Put on gloves and demolish the remaining frame using a 15-lb. sledge hammer, again going from top to bottom. Stand on scaffolding to reach the top of the stairs. Break out the wood stair framing with the sledge hammer, occasionally throwing broken out pieces into the dumpster until the stairs have been completely removed.

References

  • "Stairs & Railings: Step-by-step Projects"; Jeff Beneke, et al.; 2008
  • "Popular Mechanics Home Repairs & Improvements"; Albert Jackson, et al.; 2006
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