If your stairs are covered with old or ugly carpet, remove it and cover your stairs in hardwood for a cleaner look. You can install hardwood flooring strictly on the stair tread or on the stair risers and treads, depending on the look you want to achieve. If you're planning to paint the risers and only apply wood to the treads, paint the riser first to minimise the chances of getting paint elsewhere. Hardwood flooring is typically installed on a staircase without an underlayment.
Remove the carpet from the staircase. Use a pry bar to pry up the carpet from the edges. Start at the top of the staircase, so you can create a roll. Roll the carpet down the staircase as you work. Pry any leftover furring strips up with the pry bar. Pull any carpet staples on the surface of the staircase up with the pry bar or needle-nose pliers.
Make the edge of the stair flush with the riser. Use a measuring tape to measure the distance from the outside edge of the tread to the front of the stair riser. Use your distance measurement to mark the spot that corresponds to the position of the riser on the top of the stair tread. Draw a horizontal straight line from one side of the stair to the other. Use a circular saw to cut along this line, so the end of the stair tread and the riser are flush.
Measure the width of your staircase and the height and depth of each step. Divide the height of each step by the width of a plank. The figure you get is the number of planks you'll need to cover the riser. Divide the depth of the step by the width of each plank. The figure you get is the number of planks you'll need to cover the tread of each step. Cut the appropriate number of planks the width of your staircase, using a circular saw. The number of planks you need varies depending on the width of the planks and the size of your staircase.
Cut the off the tongue of the first hardwood flooring plank, so the edge is smooth. Apply two beads of glue or hardwood flooring adhesive along the back of the piece of hardwood. Place it against the bottom of the first riser, smooth edge flush against the ground, glue-side toward the step. Use a rubber mallet to tap the board lightly into place. Nail the board into place along the edges.
Apply a bead of glue in the groove of the already installed board. Make a bead or two of glue on the back of the next plank. Slide the tongue of the new plank into the groove of the already installed board. Tap the plank lightly into place with a rubber mallet. Position the plank against the riser. Nail the board into place. Repeat the process until you've covered the entire riser.
Apply glue to the back of the stair nose. Fit the stair nose piece over the outside corner of the stair. Use a rubber mallet to secure it and fit it securely to the stair. Nail each end of the stair nose near the wall.
Apply glue to the groove in the stair nose and the back of the next plank. Slide the tongue of the next plank into the groove of the stair nose. Tap the plank lightly into place. Nail the edges of the plank near the wall to secure it. Repeat until the stair tread is covered.
Repeat the entire process until all of the stairs are covered.
Always nail planks close to the wall to secure them. Do not nail through the groove or tongue of the board. Use a pneumatic brad nailer to nail the boards to the floor. If you use a hammer to secure your nails, use a nail set to position your nails and keep from damaging the floor. If you plan to paint the riser, you do not need to cover the riser with wood flooring.
Always wear protective gear, such as safety glasses, when operating power tools like a circular saw.