Carpet to Wood stair makeover reveal

carpet to wood stair makeoverIt’s finally time for the kitchen stair makeover reveal! Many of us are stuck with builder’s grade carpeted stairs, but that doesn’t mean we have to live with them! For about $150 we were able to transform our boring old stairs into beautiful custom looking wood stairs! I already shared with you how we built the stair treads ourselves, so let’s get straight to the pretty pictures!

P.s you can see all my inspiration for this project here.

wood stairwell makeover


stairway makeover from carpet to wood


covnert carpet to wood stairs

So shiny!

ebony stained handrail

And my favorite part! Before and after pictures!

stair makeover

The view from the pantry…..

stairs before and afterAnd a picture from before we even moved in…..

stair makeover before and afterThese are the stairs that go from our kitchen to our play room (room over the garage), so they are slightly shorter than average stairs. We used this project as a practice run for our foyer stairs which will hopefully be getting the same treatment before Christmas!



UPDATE 2017: The foyer stairs are finally done! Check them out here!


If you were just here for the pretty pictures this is your queue to leave. Now on to some of the more technical aspects of this makeover…..

The stair risers are made from stain grade plywood (same thing we made the foyer wainscoting, island cover panel, and faux chimney box from). After each piece was cut to size I rolled on two coats of primer and two coats of white paint each. I spread them out on table in the dining room while painting.

After they were dry Cody used a pneumatic nail gun to attach them to each riser. You can see them going up below……

making stair risersPainting the bannisters was a major pain in the butt. They each got two coats of primer and two coats of paint multiplied by 4 sides since I could only paint 1 side at a time. Even though I put on very light coats I still wound up with a lot of drips. They are still not perfect, but as long as you don’t look too close you won’t notice.

When we do the foyer steps, I am planning on spraying the banisters, so I’ll let you know how that goes.

painting banisters

The part of this project that wound up being the most difficult was staining to newel post and handrails. I already had Polyshades Classic Black* in the garage and I devised this perfect plan of just giving everything a light sanding followed by a quick wipe down with a TSP substitute*. Then magically I would just glaze the handrails with the black stain.  Well I tried that then sat back for 3 days waiting for the stain to dry to no avail. I don’t know if I didn’t mix the stain well enough or it was too humid in the garage, but my plan definitely wasn’t working.

*These links are affiliate links. I include them as a reference for the products we use and hope they are helpful to you; however, if you make a purchase we may make a small commission.

ebony stained handrailSo, on to plan B which involved using a chemical stripper* and stripper after wash* to remove both the black and original finish. The good news is that after being stripped the ebony stain adhered beautifully. I gave it all two coats of the stain. It already had gloss polyurethane in it, so there was no need for a finish.  The hand rails are my favorite part of the design. I love how glossy they are. It’s like jewelry for the stairs!
stair makeoverWe finished each riser with decorative molding under each step. Before we put the molding on the steps looks sort of blah. In fact I kept calling them Ikea steps (as in perfectly functional but white and boring). The molding made all the difference. In the picture above you can see the top riser without molding.
So, there it is! I hope this reveal was as exciting for you as it was for us! I can’t begin to tell you how nice it is to look into the kitchen and not have the stairwell acting as a black hole/energy suck in the room design. In fact, there is actually only one more project (built in banquette) left to do in the kitchen before we can call the room done.
One last question! How do you feel about a runner on the stairs? We’re still torn on the idea and would love to hear your input!
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xoxo Stephanie

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  1. This is amazing! I just came across this site in a search for diy chunky stairs. I’m laying laminate now and the nosings are so expensive and just so thin. I would love to do this on my stairs but I’m wondering, how did you do the landing at the top to match the other treads?

    • Thanks Katalin! The landing was so complicated I haven’t even written about it yet. Basically we made a top step for the landing then using a circular saw cut small slits into the bottom of the tread where it would overhang the landing. Then we took a hand chisel and chiseled out all the wood where the slits were. The top of the tread stayed in tack while the cut out slid over the landing. Doesn’t that sound easy?? LOL You have to be sure to measure the depth of the landing so that everything lines up with the existing floor. Our top thresh hold is a lot thinner than the other steps. Good luck with your project!

  2. How have they pine stairs held up? And was it yellow or white pine? Just trying to decide if we should spend the money on red oak treads?

    • Hey Lindsay! They’ve held up great so far. No warping, scratching, or anything else. We’re actually getting ready to re-do our main staircase the same way. And according to the hubby they are yellow pine.

  3. Hello Stephanie, I have to say that your detailed project plan has inspired me to try the same. I want to ask, how did Cody remove the old treads? Mine seem to be secured by framing nails and glue. Did he take a sledgehammer to the underside of the overhang or maybe use some power saws?

  4. Do you have details on how to remove the bannister and put it back in? My husband is worried it will be wobbly and we won’t get it to sit in right if we try to remove it.

    • Hey Amy! We were very precise in removing the banister and by precise I mean my husband wiggled the handrail back and forth until could see the nails then used a pry bar to pull them out of the wall. When we reattached the banister though he used 4 in nail screws and filled in the holes. It’s very sturdy. Probably more so than before. Good luck with your project!

      • Thanks for replying so quickly! So the spindles weren’t glued in or anything? They are just held into place with the handrail and the newells? Were the newels difficult to remove and replace?

        • I don’t recall the spindles being glued. There is a hole on the bottom on the handrail and the top of the stair treads that the spindles fit into like a peg. Once the newel posts and handrail are secure the spindles don’t move. It all goes together like a puzzle. Our newel posts were only held together with nails so it just took some banging to get them off. If yours have screws or glue as well it’s going to be a little more difficult to get them off without damaging them.

  5. Have you done a tutorial on the landing? I’m going to do our staairs like this but am stumped on our landing. Yours look great!

    • We did not do a tutorial on it. 🙁 My hubby made a custom threshold for it and it was rather complicated. We have another set of stairs to do still, so I’ll make sure to document how we do it there.

  6. I love your results. We have just removed our carpet on two sets of stairs and found nasty particle board treads. One set even has particle board risers too. I have been researching new stair treads and cost. I thought I’d like to remove the old and replace with new. Everything I have researched so far pops up with retro fit stair treads—and expensive. Today, I decided to look up inexpensive stair treads and your blog popped up. I am so happy. They look great and fill me with confidence we can do this. Clearly, I am not the only crazy person to try this!

    • I’m so glad I could help! It’s been almost two years since we did this project and the stair treads are still in perfect condition. We’re getting ready to tackle our foyer stairs with the same treatment. Good luck with your project!

    • We did. Our stairs were built to be carpeted so the original treads were particle board. Some people are lucky enough to have wood treads under their carpet, but not so us.

  7. This tutorial along with your “home made treads” tutorial were really insightful and exactly what my wife and I were looking for. I was wondering what type of plywood did you use for the risers? How thick was it?
    Also any help or additional tutorials on how you did your landing would be really helpful…we have 2 landings in our stair case.

    • Hey Gabriel! I’m glad we could be of help. We used 1/4″ cabinet grade plywood (or underlayment) for the risers. I’ve had a lot of questions on how we did the landing and unfortunately we never took any pictures. I’ll definitely make a tutorial when we do our next set of stairs. Basically we made a top step for the landing just like we did the other steps. Then we ran it through a table saw multiple times to make tiny slices that we then hand chiseled out. This left the step perfect on top but created a lip underneath so that the step would lie flush with the wood floor on the landing. I’m not sure if that description was helpful or just more confusing. Good luck with your project!

  8. Love your project and the final out come. Curious why you used pine and how has it shown wear over the last year? (I thought a harder wood would be better but I know its usually more expensive.)

    • We used pine basically for the price. Other woods would have tripled the cost of the project. It’s been two years now though and the steps haven’t shown any wear at all. No shifting or sagging. I could see if you had really wide steps why you would need a harder wood but on our standard width steps we’ve had no problems.

  9. Hi Stephanie,
    Beautiful work! Thanks for sharing. Once you pulled up the carpeting to expose the treads and risers, did you need to replace or rebuild the riser or box or did you use the riser that was there? If you used the riser that was there, did you simply prime the face of the riser and paint in the white color. Thanks for clarifying this step.

    • Thanks Bethany! We left the original riser that was there but faced it with stain grade plywood. The original risers were in good shape but were rough wood since they were made to be covered by carpet. Once benefit of this was that I was able to prime and paint the risers before I installed them which save a lot of time and effort.

  10. I was so excited to see this! Your railing and carpet on the edge of the stairs is very similar to ours. Can you share how you removed the railing to put on the new stair treads? Thanks for the great tutorial!