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Stairway Makeover – Swapping Carpet for Laminate

So excited to share the last installment of the new flooring posts, and I maybe saved the best transformation for last! Our carpeted stairs were really looking grungy, possibly because my children regularly enjoy riding down them in their sleeping bags?

A close up of a staircaseIn making the decision to replace all the flooring upstairs, we realized we would have to do the staircase too or there would be a weird floating carpeted staircase stuck in between the wood flooring upstairs and down.

A close up of a staircase

The first step was obviously removing all the gross carpet, and 30 million staples later… we were ready to go.

There are different ways to attach laminate flooring to stairs depending on what type of laminate flooring you are using. BuildDirect was awesome enough to partner with us on this project and provided all the materials. Our particular brand of flooring was the Lamton White Dogwood from BuildDirect. We ordered the overlap stair nosing that coordinates with our flooring. It is meant to replace the existing edge of your staircase.

Stairs and Floor

So the next step was to cut off our existing overhang on each stair. Here’s where my uncle and his envious collection of power tools took over. He used a sawzall to cut off the edge of each stair so it was flush with the riser. This was probably the hardest part of the project. You can see in the above photo the lip he cut off.

Stairs and Floor

Next, we measured and cut the flooring and snapped it together like we did with the rest of the flooring to cover each step. Except, instead of having the flooring “float” like the rest of the floating floor, we nailed it down with fine finishing nails (using a nail gun). For the edges of each step, we glued the new trim pieces down and used finishing nails to make sure they stay put. We continued this all the way down the stairs and done!

The inside of a building

You will notice there is a little lip from each edge of the laminate floor snapping into the trim piece. I thought this was really going to bother me at first but once we put the runner on I don’t even notice it anymore.

Stairs and Floor

Once we got the carpet removed, we realized the plywood beneath wasn’t going to be smooth enough to paint the risers white like I wanted, so my uncle cut new plywood pieces and we glued them to the fronts of all the risers. Then I covered them with 1 coat of primer and 2 coats of paint in my fancy painting outfit. I’m actually shocked these jeans haven’t just disintegrated by now…

Ok, on to the runner… Well, my kids are 8 and 4, and we don’t want anyone to go slip sliding down these stairs and breaking their neck, so a runner was a must for us. I ordered 3 of these 8 ft rugs from Wayfair in this tan and black stripe. I honestly would have loved to do a light blue and white stripe, but my mom pointed out how impractical this was with my kids in the house. So, I went with a more dirt friendly rug. Someday I will probably switch it out to something lighter, but this was such an easy DIY it won’t be a big deal. I know, are you shocked practicality won over style this time? :)

A person using a staple gun

I followed this tutorial from Young House Love, which was really helpful. I used a little thicker rug pad than they did for a little more cushioning. I also used my uncle’s heavy duty staple gun with really long skinny staples. When I got to the end, I just cut the excess off and folded the edge over and stapled. I had to use 3 rugs to cover our whole stairs and it was a little tricky connecting the seams on each rug, but mainly because I was doing this part alone (the Mr. was on a business trip – he claims he was bummed he missed all the fun, but am not sure he was being sincere). I think an extra set of hands would be super helpful for that part.

A staircase with carpet

I can’t believe how much this has changed the feel in our home. Our staircase is right in our entry way and the first thing you see when you walk in the front door. I love that it is actually a focal point now instead of a boring beige staircase.

Staircase with carpet

I’m really happy with how well the new laminate coordinates with our wood flooring downstairs.

Stairs and Floor

Oh and the hall upstairs looks great too! My DIY Library ladder is running even smoother with the new flooring underneath!

Library Ladder Bookcase

Library Ladder bookcase

Like what you see? BuildDirect is running their Spring into Action Sale starting today!


You can save up to 50% off on wood flooring, tile, decking, carpeting, siding and more. This is the largest sale in their history, so be sure to stop by and check out all the amazing deals, the sale runs through April 8 and you can see all the details here!

Laminate wood floor

You can read more about our awesome experience with BuildDirect here and here.

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  1. Fortunately, it’s a DIY-friendly project thanks to laminate’s easy interlocking installation. Removing carpet and laying the laminate can be labor- and time-intensive, so set aside plenty of time to complete this project if you plan to do it yourself. Keep up the great work! Thank you so much for sharing great posts.

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  6. Did you staple the runner into the laminate, or into the wood on the risers? It seems so weird to me to put new laminate treads on and then staple a runner into them. I know with real wood it would sand out, but laminate would leave permanent holes.

    1. Into the laminate I believe this post is almost 5 years old so I’m trying to remember. We always planned on having a runner for safety so I wasn’t really concerned about having holes that would always be covered up.

  7. It turned out really nice! Definitely worth the time. Great idea using the runners. Its hard to find carpet for stairs. Wonderful choice. Thank you for sharing. It helps people like me who 2nd guess themselves.

  8. Hi! I love all that you have done. You’re an inspiration. Can you tell me the exact name of this runner? When I click on the link you provided, it just goes to the main Wayfair site, not that specific runner. Thank you!

  9. Love your stairs, but I had a question about your wainscoting , does it go all the way up the wall and is is board and batten, thanks

  10. Hi Kelly, I’m thinking of doing lvp on our stairs. When you did this, did you line up the planks evenly on the stairs rather than staggering them like you do on the floors? I’m thinking this might be the best and easiest way to do it.

    1. Hey Joni, I think each step was a complete board across if I remember right. This was about 5 years ago now – thanks!

  11. Just found this because we have laminate on our stairs and I’m irritated by the lip for the product we chose (Pergo XP Homestead Oak). Our project is not quite finished so i’m desperately seeking solutions via a different type of stair nose/product and even researching ripping off the laminate stairs and replacing with real wood (we only have 6 stairs since we live in a split level). Did you see any alternative options? Now that i’ve seen this maybe a runner will be a backup option if i don’t find anything else.

    1. Hey Emily, this post is a few years old and we don’t actually live in this home anymore but the lip always annoyed me too. The runner did help with some of that. We have engineered wood stairs at our new home with no lip. Thanks!

  12. 30 million staples are you sure, this can build a car I think. Joking. The makeover is really fantastic, love it.

  13. Looks awesome! Question, did you start the runner from the top of the 2nd stair or did you start it on the riser of the 1st stair step?

  14. LOVE the idea of using runners on the stairs! Our stair runner is a light beige and SO dingy:( I’ll probably be copying you on this one and will likely have a zillion questions (as always ?).

  15. Hi Kelly,

    I love this transformation! Did you use the same paint on the risers that you used on the wainscoting and trim going up the stairs? I am getting ready to attempt this makeover :)


  16. HI Kelly
    Thanks for your quick response. The link shows a rug that has the same colors but a totally different stripe .

  17. I love the runner. Do you know the name or manufacturer. I wants this for my home!

  18. This is just lovely! I’ve always hated carpet stairs. They get so dirty and they can be an eyesore for the home. I absolutely love the update. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Would you please tell me where you got your handrails from?
    I’m interested in getting some like those.
    You have a beautiful home!

    Thank You for sharing your home with us!


  20. I love it, and what a great job breaking it down to inform people. I love the idea of the runners and I am on my way to order. But a question, do I access way fair from your site for you to get credit or put your name somewhere when I order?
    Love your site a lot!

  21. Love how this all turned out! I can’t believe how much better the stairs look and I didn’t think they looked bad before. Great dying job!

  22. Kelly, the stairs look so pretty. I love stripes, so I have them in every room. The rugs look like burlap, which I really like. I bet your husband was pleased to see what a great job you did. Looking forward to seeing your next project.

  23. So sharp – love the stripes!! I’m curious about the runner…. how will you clean it? You can vacuum every day dirt, but what if the dog throws up on it? I would love a runner like this, but my pets would wreck it within the first week. I also love your laminate. Nice work.

    1. Hey Kim, so it vacuums up very nice and I’ve also used carpet cleaner to spot clean it in one spot. Our stairs are really steep so no one really hangs out on them, our dog is generally going as fast as possible up or down them bc it freaks him out ha.

  24. Awesome job on your stairs! The runner looks amazing and I love the laminate that you chose.

  25. It looks amazing! We have laminate flooring in our entire house, and I LOVE it. It’s so easy to care for. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a staircase done in laminate, but it really looks great. If we ever move to a house with stairs, I would definitely do it! I wanted to also let you know that your blog has been looking a little weird lately. It’s almost like the mobile version is what is showing on my desktop browser. If that sounds odd to you, let me know, and I can email you some screenshots if it would be helpful. :)

    1. Hey Jenny thanks for the heads up, not sure what could be going on. I’ve checked it on a couple different computers and it looks ok to me, hopefully it was just a glitch!

  26. What a difference! I never even thought about laminate for stairs – what a great idea! I’m in love with your choice of rug!! I think it’s a great color to hide dirt, and the stripes give it so much character. Easy to switch out if you ever what a change. Love your new stairs, congrats!

  27. Wow super cute!! I love stripes and they make your staircase look amazing!! I have many Dash and Albert rugs and they are incredibly durable.
    You must be exhausted you’ve been working on all this since Xmas!! Summer is right around the corner!!

  28. Kelly, I simply loved it! Of course, for those who never did it, it might not be so easy… :(
    The idea of the rugs is really great. I just have to convince my husband that the tapes to avoi sliding are really ugly (even if they are transparents…)
    :) Thanks for sharing!
    kisses ML
    ps Sorry for my bad English… all the way from Rio/Brazil!

  29. Love the way this stairway looks now! And I’m totally going to be adding a rug runner to my parents wood basement steps – I worry about them slipping on them.

  30. It’s beautiful. I would love to get rid of the carpeting on our stairs too. I love the runner you chose, it’s looks amazing with the wood floors.

  31. That looks great! Even though the original carpet was light, the rug somehow makes it look even brighter. I love it!

  32. Looks fantastic and your lines are straight. I can’t believe what a difference it makes. Great job!! BTW — did you spill paint on your jeans? And if we had stairs I would definitely switch!! Have a great day.

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