I first posted this youtube video in 2009 and at that time I may have been one of the first to publicly document this method of removing stair nosing prior to the installation of new hard surface floor covering like, hardwood, bamboo, plastic laminate, and the current fashion — luxury vinyl plank and tile (LVP & LVT). Since the method has stood the test of time, I’m reposting it in my current blog along with the original page of text. 

This video describes how to best remove the sub-floor stair nosings in preparation for new floor covering. The step needs to have a square edge to accept a new nose that matches the finished floor covering. Most flooring manufacturers offer matching stair nosing for their laminate and hardwood flooring. If they don't, one can often be custom made from an unfinished wood bull-nose.  This is a good option when using ceramic tile on the stair tread and you want something on the edge that is a bit more resilient.


As a 2017 update to this post regarding stair nosing options — there are emerging companies making stair nosing and trims to match not only traditional hardwood flooring but also trims with a waterproof core matching the vinyl floor of your choice. is a good place to see what’s what. 

Whatever the brand of choice, every pro has a multi-use reciprocating saw, sometimes referred to as a sawzall. I believe the name, Sawzall® is derived from the Milwaukee brand of reciprocating saw. Like the word Ketchup is often used to describe all brands of catsup, Sawzall is often used to describe all brands of reciprocating saws.

It's a multi-use saw or it saws-all as it has various blade types for cutting wood, metal, plastic, etc. There are fast cutting blades, precision cutting blades and specialty blades like those designed for the fire and rescue industry. Pretty much a blade designed for most rough cutting tasks.

If you need to get a job done safely and efficiently and the quality is of little consequence, like in demolition work, this versatile saw will make quick work of the task.

The video, actually more of a slide show with text is set to Sheryl Crow's song- The first cut is the deepest. Just a little play on words and inside joke among us floor installers who need to keep ourselves entertained as we perform some of these back-breaking, tedious tasks. The video does include about 15 seconds of motion showing the stair nosing being cut completely off at the end.

laminate-stair-failure copy

The photo on the left (click for larger) of laminate steps was taken on a floor inspection I performed in Phoenix, AZ. The installer did not remove the sub-floor nosing  and attempted to cover the protruding edge with a narrow strip of laminate flooring on the riser. The homeowner didn't complain originally because she was convinced by the installer that this is the correct way to install a laminate floor on steps.

Eventually the nosing became loose due to the additional tread depth created by adding the new nose over the existing nose. There are building codes for staircases designed around how people walk. There are specific tread depth, riser height and slope that must be followed. Altering a staircase also alters the way people use it. At the least this will cause premature wear and failure of the stair components and at worse it may be responsible for personal injury.


If you encounter a step that for some reason the nose can not or should not be removed, you could always build out the riser as a next best alternative. Building out each riser keeps the treads a consistent depth and should be done to all the risers including the top that may transition to a different floor covering.  

Enjoy the video, and if you have any questions feel free to contact me using the Contacts link at the bottom of the page. Thanks for looking in.

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