Staircases are easy to overlook when decorating your home. They’re usually not on top of the list of priorities for many people. But staircases can contribute tremendously to the overall interior décor of your property when they’re nicely done. But when they’re not… this is when it becomes ugly. Literally. If you have a carpeted staircase, the chance is this carpet has seen a lot. It’s probably worn out since it’s a high-traffic area, possibly with tears, stains, and more. Is it salvable? Let’s see!

So for any DIY enthusiasts out there, this is a project you can undertake and execute on your own. It might take you more time than anticipated, but we assure you the end result will be well worth it!

Step 1: The Before

Before undertaking any project, assess the current situation. Check for any holes, tears, fluffs, loose ends, etc. Are there any stains? Can you take them out by hand, or do you need to hire carpet cleaning professionals? Depending on how old the carpet and stains are, you might really need to do so. If your carpet can be saved just by deep cleaning, then good for you! The hard work is done by the technicians with the steam-cleaning machines. But if it’s too worn down with visible tears, then proceed with the next steps.

And just a reminder: Like any DIY-er, take photos for the dramatic before and after.

Step 2: The Tools

Gather all the tools you need for removing the carpet:

  • Safety work gloves, preferably from leather;
  • Utility knife;
  • Pliers.

Tools you’ll need for fixing the wooden stairs:

  • Safety glasses;
  • Hand sander;
  • Heavy duty sanding paper;
  • Wood filler;
  • Moulding;
  • Wood glue;
  • Duct tape;

Painting the staircase:

  • Caulk;
  • Prime;
  • Paint.

Don’t even dare to start the project without safety glasses and leather gloves on!

Step 3: Removing the Carpet

We can’t lie and say removing a carpet it easy. But it’s doable! Sometimes the contractor, the previous owner, or whoever installed it clearly never meant for it to be removed. Ever.

Start from either the top or bottom of the stairs. Feel if, at the corners, there’s a joint in the carpet (if it’s already cut). If not, cut the carpet with the utility knife where the stair tread and risers connect. Then, with the help of pliers, proceed to remove staples.

After a million staples, the wooden structure underneath should be finally unearthed, and you can proceed to the next step. But maybe the next day (or weekend). It’s more than ok if you take a rest. You deserve it!

Step 4: Fixing the Wooden Stairs

Now that the wooden staircase is visible, maybe you fell in love with it. Yes, it’s perhaps a little bit rough-looking for now, but we’re sure there’s ‌potential. 

First, take a hand sander and remove as much of the roughness as possible. If you want to take it to the next level, use a piece of heavy duty sandpaper to polish it. Even if the wood isn’t as smooth as you thought it should be, you’re on the right track.

Next, you can use wood filler to fill in any holes, imperfections, or damage to the wood. It works wonders to smooth the surface. Just make sure to work fast. If you’re unsure if you can manage to do it in minutes, you can use wood putty. The difference is that the wood putty has plastic-based compounds, which help to refine it in the next few hours after application. When you add the final coats of paint, you will see it helps a lot.

Step 5: Add Moulding

If anything can help cover up unsightly holes, it is moulding. You can use several different types of moulding. If you’re already keen on DIY projects, you might have some suitable pieces lying around in your storage. If not, grab some from your local hardware store.

Moulding can help you cover rather large holes or missing pieces. Again, start from either the top or the bottom of the staircase. You can use duct tape to secure the pieces together while the glue dries up.

Step 6: Caulk, Prime, and Paint

Once everything is glued together, it is time to start caulking. Let us remind you that caulk is your best friend when you need to cover up numerous flaws. Hey, you might even have to use an entire tube of caulk to disguise everything! Two layers of caulk and another round of sanding, and you are ready to prime.

Even if you had an idea to create a nice dual-colour design for the staircase, remember it would be much easier to cover everything in white first and then colour the stair treads separately.

Note: Don’t forget to let the paint dry overnight before you add the next layer.

If you didn’t use up all of the caulk, primer or paint, save them and store them somewhere safe! You can use them in your next project!

Step 7: Add a Runner

A nice jute rug makes for a perfect runner. If you can reuse something that you already own—great! That’s what DIY is all about. Just make sure you secure the runner with staples. Yes, staples. We realise the irony of this, but it really is the easiest way to do it.

The combination of a tan runner and light-coloured stairs can complement a dark-coloured hardwood floor. Now that’s modern and cosy!

Final thoughts

In conclusion, revamping your old carpeted staircase can truly transform the look and feel of your home. By following these tips and tricks, you can turn a drab staircase into a fab one that adds character and charm to your space. Whether you opt-in only for the deep carpet cleaning or you execute the whole project, there are endless possibilities for making this often-overlooked area of your home shine. So why not take on this worthwhile project today? With some time and effort, you’ll be amazed at how much of an impact it can have on the overall appeal of your living space.


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