How to Remove a Stair Tread and Install a New One?

Remove a Stair Tread

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The removal and installation of the stair treads are straightforward to understand. With the correct tools and some basic skill, the maximum time you might need is a lonely weekend.

If you are like me, your biggest problem will be the surrounding people. You are not working in the garage this time. So, make them understand the inconvenience they are going to face.

Also, be very careful about the measurements. One wrong cut, and you are the villain in the house for the weekend.

Follow the steps we have described here, and you should smoothly sail through the project.

Required Tools

The tools required for both the removal and installation process are listed below.

  • Utility Knife
  • Crowbar
  • Pliers
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Stair Gauge
  • Hand or Table Saw
  • Construction Adhesive Glue
  • Nail Gun
  • Pencil

You should also get your cleaning equipment like brooms and vacuums ready to clean the inside of the stairs. For safety, you should also have a face mask, safety gloves, and a safety goggle.

Removing the Old Treads

For those of you who have carpeting on the stairs, you first need to remove the carpet. And this can be a separate task on its own. So, we are dividing the tread removing process into two parts.

Carpet Removal

If you don’t have carpets, you don’t need to read this part.

Step 1: Peel the Carpet Off

Cut the carpets gently underneath the lip of the top step. Then make a shallow cut vertically so that you don’t scratch or cut the riser. Now, you can peel off the carpet exposing the padding fabric and track strips.

You can make necessary cuts to peel the carpet off easily. Pulling the carpet out without any cuts can be a good idea if there is no risk of damaging the stairs.

Step 2: Pry Off the Tack Strips

Stair strips can be nailed in the stairs. Use a crowbar or the claw of a hammer to pry off the tack strips from the corners of the stairs.

Step 3: Remove the Padding

Now, you have to pull out the padding fabric. There could be staples holding the fabric. Use pliers to pluck them off. Before pulling the padding, make sure there are no pins or staples.

Now, we can do the main part of removing the stair treads.

Tread Removal

Follow the steps written below for the smooth removal of your stair treads.

Step 1: Try to Pry Up the Tread

Wiggle in your crowbar between the tread and the riser. The riser is the vertical part of the stair step. After getting the crowbar in position, push it down to lever up the tread. Complete removal might not be possible at this stage as the treads can be nailed or glued in numerous positions.

Step 2: Cut the Nails

Once you have made enough space with the crowbar, insert a reciprocating saw. Cut the nails that are holding the tread with the saw. You can even use a hex blade.

Step 3: Use the Crowbar for Complete Removal

Then insert your crowbar again and lever up the tread to remove it completely.

Step 4: Repeat the Process for the Rest

Repeat the same processes for all the steps of the stair. And always start it from the top and end at the bottom.

Now, it would be an excellent time to clean underneath your stair. The opportunity might not come again very soon. And you also want everything clean before the installation process.

Installation of New Treads

Before getting to the installation process, you need new stair treads. You will find unfinished treads in the market, and these will save you money. And if you don’t mind spending some extra bucks, then there are a lot of ready-made finished treads in the market that you can buy.

Whichever you choose, be sure to pick the stair treads that suit your home design.

Here, we are going to describe how to make new stair treads and then go on to the installation process.

Making New Stair Treads

If you are getting prefinished treads, you obviously don’t need to read this part. But people with time and tools in their hand will surely have a good time making their own treads.

Step 1: Positioning the Stair Gauge

Firstly, place the stair gauge where the tread will be on the raiser. Extend the wings fully against the skirting board. The angles of the wings also need to be adjusted. Tune them until the gauge is completely level with the stair both in terms of angle and length. Properly tighten the gauge screws to hold the measurement and angle.

Step 2: Mark the Measurements

Put the gauge on top of the unfinished tread and mark it with a pencil. Measure from one side of the treads.

Step 3: Cut According to the Measurements

Cut the treads according to the marked measurements of the stair gauge. Using a table saw is preferable, but a hand saw can do the same job.

Step 4: Measure How Much the Tread Sticks Out

Now, put that tread on the stair step again to measure how much it sticks out from the riser. Mark your measurement with a pencil. Your local building code could guide for the nosing depth measurement. Generally, it is 0.75 to 1.25 inches (3.18 cm) in the United States.

Step 5: Cut the Tread Nosing If Necessary

You need to use your saw again to cut the tread nosing to your desired depth. However, you might not need to cut if it is already in the correct range.

Step 6: Repeat

Repeat this process for the rest of the stairs.

Now, you should have your tread ready to install.

New Tread installation

Before installing, consider double-checking everything, especially the measurements. Because, one wrong move here can ruin the whole project. Then follow the steps below —

Step 1: Use Glue

Apply glue on the surfaces where the tread will sit. Apply it in a zigzag pattern and be generous with it.

Step 2: Place the Tread

Put the tread in position and press it in place. Make sure it has a nice fit.

Step 3: Employ the Nail Gun

Nail the tread by using a nail gun. Use a nail gun that is able to recess the nails slightly to make them unnoticeable. 8D finishing nails might be good for this job.

Step 4: Repeat

Repeat the process and work your way up.

You are done installing the treads. Now, you may apply finish on the wood or carpet your stairs.

Final Words

The removal and installation process is pretty straightforward. You just need to have the correct tools and the right idea. Be extra cautious when measuring and cutting the treads.

Lastly, a big pat on your back for doing it yourself.