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Nails Sticking Out Of Carpet On Stairs (Why And How To Fix)

There’s nothing worse than walking around your home in socks or bare feet and suddenly feeling something sharp. Nails sticking out of carpet can be not only painful, but unsafe, especially on stairs. 

Nails Sticking Out Of Carpet On Stairs

If you’ve clicked on this article, we’re assuming you’ve noticed nails (also known as tacks) sticking out of carpet on stairs in your house. Luckily, this isn’t a problem you have to continue living with because there are some easy fixes. 

Nails or tacks may stick out of carpet on stairs due to improper tack strip installation, low pile carpet, or foot traffic on the tack strip. The best ways to fix this problem include hammering the nails down, trimming the nail heads, or using felt padding.

Here’s everything you need to know about nails sticking out of carpet on stairs, including why it happens and how to fix it. 

What Causes Nails Sticking Out of Stairs Carpet?

There are 3 main reasons why nails or tacks might start protruding from the carpet on your stairs. In some cases, the root cause can be a combination of the 3: 

1. Improper Installation

If the tack strips holding the carpet in place on your stairs are not attached right, the carpet will loosen. As the carpet starts to slip, the nails can start to poke through the surface. 

2. Low Pile Carpet 

Very thin or low pile carpet makes it easier for nails to come through, especially if the tack strip has been incorrectly attached, or the nails are too long. 

3. Pressure on the Tack Strip 

This is not a common cause of nails coming through carpet on stairs. Tack strips are usually installed against the risers between stairs. This is not an area that gets a lot of foot traffic. 

But, if you do tend to step right in front of the risers when climbing your stairs, the carpet fibers in this area can get compacted. This makes it easier for tacks to protrude. 

How To Fix Nails Sticking Out Of Carpet On Stairs 

Nails Sticking Out Of Carpet On Stairs

Although tacks sticking out of the carpet on your stairs can be a frustrating problem, there are a few relatively simple ways to fix the problem. 

Hammering Tacks 

The most common recommendation for fixing nails sticking out of carpet on stairs is simply to hammer down the nails. In our opinion, this is the best method because you can use it whether you have just one nail sticking out, or an issue with the entire tack strip. 

  1. Get your hammer and some scrap pieces of wood. You’ll also need some duct tape and self-adhesive felt pads
  2. Lift the carpet so that you can see the tack strip. If your carpet is already loose, lifting it might not be too difficult, but in case this is proving tricky, here’s how to use a knee kicker to pull back carpet.
  3. Using your duct tape, secure your scrap wood on both sides of the nail(s) that you can feel through the carpet. This is important because you don’t want the pieces of wood to move around while you’re hammering. 
  4. Take your hammer and use it to push the nail down so that it’s flush with the scrap wood. 
  5. You can now take away the wood and use a felt pad to cover the nail. This should help to stop the problem from recurring in the future.
  6. Once you’ve done this, all you need to do is put your carpet back on the tack strip. 

Wooden Board And Rubber Mallet 

If you’re worried about damaging your stairs by hammering directly onto the nails, you can also try the wooden board and rubber mallet method: 

  1. Lift the carpet off the stair. 
  2. Place your scrap wood on top of the protruding tack, instead of on either side.
  3. Use a rubber mallet to apply pressure onto the nail through the wood. We recommend using a rubber mallet instead of a hammer to avoid breaking the wood in the process. 
  4. You should now notice that the nail is either flattened out, or the pointed end has chipped off. 
  5. Finish the job by applying an adhesive felt pad and replacing the carpet.

Trimming Nail Heads 

For stairs that only have 1 or 2 nails sticking out of the carpet, you might find it easier to trim the nail heads. Here’s how to do it: 

  1. You’ll still need a hammer and adhesive felt pads for this method, but you’ll also need a pair of pliers.
  2. Use your pliers to hold the nail head and bend it from side to side. Eventually, it should break. 
  3. Take a piece of adhesive felt and hammer it down over the blunted tip of the nail for added protection.
  4. Put your carpet back.

Felt Padding 

Sticky felt pads have come up a lot so far in our guide. If the tacks are only protruding very slightly, try this. Apply some felt between the nail and the carpet. This be enough to solve the problem: 

  1. All you need is a hammer, scrap wood, and your felt pads.
  2. Lift your carpet and stick a felt pad down on top of the nail(s). If all the nails on the tack strip are protruding, you might want to consider using a larger piece of felt and sticking it down with glue. 
  3. Use your hammer to push the felt into the nail. The goal is for the tip of the nail to poke through the felt (you still need it to grip the carpet from underneath) while minimizing the exposed length of the tack, so it can’t poke all the way through. 
  4. Take a weighted object and place it on top of the carpet where it lines up with the tack strip. This will help the carpet to stay in place.

Final Thoughts 

You can easily make your stairs safe and comfortable to walk on by hammering down or cutting the heads off nails sticking through the carpet.

For minor nail or tack protrusion, you can also use felt pads to reduce the length of the exposed nail. 

Be sure to wear hand and eye protection when working with sharp tacks and nails. If your carpets are old, try wearing a mask. This will stop you from breathing in dust and carpet fibers as you work.

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