Repair & Care
Remove Stair Nosing & Staples - Page Three
Staples and more staples, oh my! Carpet padding is usually attached to steps with a staple gun. After removing you will probably get little chunks wedged under the staples. To remove, needle nose pliers will work or what our installer is using. For other staples, you can remove, but pounding them flush with the wood works just as well.
Considering carpet covered the steps, upon removal you may actually hear a few squeak. Carpet and it's padding can sometimes muffle the slightest effect. Once it's removed sounds can increase.
At this time do a thorough inspection of your stairs. Stairs also need to be flat much like the hardwood floor downstairs. Some framers don't look twice when these are installed. Some may figure it will be carpeted, so why bother. Check for flatness with a straight edge of some sort. This includes across the step, and also the width. Corrections can be made with a belt sander, chisel, planer or complete replacement of the substrate tread. Squeaks can be repaired by simply inserting wedges under the step.
Remove The Nosing
In order to install strip or plank on our stairs the existing nosing has to be removed. In this case the framers used 2" x 12's and the tread itself overlaps the riser by about one inch. Using a tape measure, measure out the tread from each side of the step to the riser. It will vary on every step and is important to be exact.
Please excuse the mess, the treads were not prepped prior to doing this step. Think there is enough paint overspray there? Anyhoots, each and every tread will measure different. We found they varied anywhere from 13/16" up to 1 1/4"
Next step is to transfer measurements to the top of the tread itself and place your marks. Using a nail and chalk line, if you're working alone, snap the line. This will provide a guide as to how much material will be taken off the step with the use of a circular saw (pictures below).
Using a circular saw in such a small area can be intimidating. Use extreme care if you're not familiar. I would suggest hiring a carpenter to do the work if you're not comfortable. Only use sharp carbide blades when cutting. Our suggestion; buy a new one if the other one is worn out.
Preventing injury can be as easy as setting the blade depth of the circular saw to how much you have to remove. Our example calls for the blade to be set about 1/8" below the tread thickness. Always make sure any power tools are unplugged when making any adjustments. Once you are satisfied with the desired depth, make sure the locking mechanism is tight and keep your fingers away from the blade. It is important to keep the saw itself, on a parallel plane with the step when making the cut for reasons we'll explain later.
Remove The Nosing
For those that may be wondering, the existing floor where Tony is kneeling will be replaced with ceramic tile. I would suggest if you have a new floor in that area, cover to protect it when doing this work. Incidentally, considering ceramic tile will be installed, it is recommended any tile work be done before a hardwood flooring project. Doing so will negate any potential damage that seems to come when work is performed in that order. In this case scheduling problems did not allow. Best to plan ahead.
The circular saw will miss approximately three inches from each side of the step when you make the cut. One trick that helps removing the cut piece at once would be making a cut in the center of the step. Using a pry bar, pull both pieces off. If you should happen to run into plywood steps we suggest using a jig saw to cut the remaining material the circular saw missed.
As long as there aren't any knots on the sides of the step, the pieces should pull off clean with a little chisel work needed.
For steps that are mortised it's wise to cut to the side of each riser with a jig or hand saw or be extra careful when removing the pieces. Wiggle each piece until it breaks free, being careful not to damage the stair skirting itself. It is likely to be glued and in some cases nailed or screwed from the underside.
For mortised steps, you will have left behind, a gaping hole that needs to be addressed before continuing. Depending on the flooring thickness being used, plywood can be attached to the step riser. Once both plywood and flooring material is installed it should cover the open mortised joint. Another option would be to fill with some type of wood putty. One that will not shrink or crack and sands easily. It's up to you, but I found the plywood idea to be quicker and cleaner.
Did I Mention Squeaky Steps?
Sure did! It doesn't hurt to mention it again. The lady of the house will not be pleased if you cover up the steps then all of a sudden they start squeaking. Check the condition of the risers and steps before continuing. If they squeak, your new steps will do the same. Make sure they are flat. If the stairs are accessible from below, using screws helps but it's important the voids close up. By having someone above standing on the areas while screwing at the same time the problem is resolved. Wood shims can also be used to shore up any voids.
Who Is This Guy?
A little note about our installer, Tony Garrison. Tony resides in Zephyrhills, Florida. His experience spans over twenty years with today's focus on laminate flooring, as of this October 2012 update. You can reach Tony at 813-713-1535.