How to Remove Carpet From Wood Stairs

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  • 2-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-70
What You'll Need
Wonder bar
Utility knife
Putty knife

Although it depends upon the interior design of your home, wood stairs may be preferable to carpet. If your stairs are carpeted, but you would like to let the natural beauty of the wood beneath it see the light of day, you will have to remove the carpet along with all of the means of attaching it. Once revealed, wood stairs can be refinished and achieve a new look, giving new life to the stairwell. The process of removing carpet can be time consuming, but once it's done, it will have been well worth it.

Step 1 - Get Started

The hardest part about removing carpet from stairs is starting. Without damaging the wood, you must reach under the carpet and pry it free. If both the treads and the risers are carpeted, you may be able to slide the blade of a utility knife along an edge without scratching the wood. Otherwise use the pliers to pull up a small portion of the carpet so that you can fit a wonder bar under it.

Step 2 - Wonder bar

A wonder bar is a flat crow bar with an L-shaped end. It provides great leverage while allowing you be careful with the wood underneath. The carpet is held to the stairs along tack strips. Once the carpet is separated from the tacks along a strip, you start to get a handle on it. Work from strip to strip.

Step 3 - Cut Where You Can

When enough carpet is freed, cut it with the utility knife. It is likely that the carpet was installed in segments, so this step may be unnecessary. Smaller pieces are easier to work with.

Step 4 - Tack Strips and Padding

Once the carpet is up, you will be left with a lot of tacks and tack strips. The wonder bar works well to pry them away from the wood. Remove all of the tack strips by applying leverage and pulling them up. If there is any carpet padding, remove that as well.

Step 5 - Tacks

After the tack strips are up, there may still be some tacks left stuck to the wood. Remove them with either nail remover on the wonder bar or a pair of pliers.

Step 6 - Patching and Sanding

Sand with heavy sandpaper to remove splinters and small cracked pieces. If you plan on refinishing the wood that's already there, you'll have to apply putty to the numerous holes in the wood and other places where there are dings or dents. A lot of sanding will get the wood to a workable state for finishing. Before you start sanding, check to see if anyone stained or finished the wood some time in the past. If so, you'll want to wear safety glasses ad face mask while you sand.

Step 7 - Refinish the Wood Stairs

After it has been prepped, you can refinish the wood with a natural stain or paint depending on what you want to do with the design.

Exposing the wood stairs in your home starts by removing the carpet, tack strips, tacks and any padding. Once that is done, you can sand and prep the wood for refinish and complete the job with a nice new coat of stain.