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Thread: Stair Treads Help

  1. #16
    I completely rebuilt a staircase in my house because it had >2 inch difference in the rise between steps. It also had ~14 inch run per step so by dropping back to around 12 inch run I gained enough space to get the rise consistent and closer to 7 inches. Anyway, when I was ready to install pre-finished solid oak treads on my new stringers, I used a combination of construction adhesive and trim screws. You can find them at the big box stores. They make a small hole that I filled with colored wax. The hole is visible but not objectionable, at least to me. I installed screws only where the tread wanted to rock a bit on the stringers. If the tread sat on the stringers well, I just stayed off the staircase until the adhesive set up. The resulting staircase is solid.

    I also cut a dado in the bottom of my risers and created a tongue on the back of the treads to fit into the dado. So the back of each tread is dado'd into the riser to help secure it.

    With respect to a stair gauge I just measured for each tread. About half of mine are open on one side so they needed to be consistent in length and to be cut at an angle only if the tread wasn't square to the skirt board. My outside stringers are spaced by a flat 2x4 inside the wall studs so the skirt is just nailed up and the tread butted into it. In the closed part of the staircase, the walls were pretty parallel and I just had to cut the treads to length to fit. I would also say, however, that I think one of the reasons skirts and risers are often painted white - as mine are - is because it makes it easy to caulk small gaps. If you are also painting the skirts and risers, you don't need to worry as much about the tread fit to the skirts. As long as you cut reasonably well, any gap will disappear with a little caulk. If you care clear finishing skirts and risers, you will need to be more careful (or do what a previous carpenter did on another of my staircases and put up shoe molding to hid the gaps).

  2. #17
    Guys, I gotta say, this was an awesome thread! I learned so much about a job I would never have attempted, but who knows.


  3. #18
    Well I have bought some unfinished Oak Treads at Menard's
    I didn't get all of them just a few to start the project with.
    The only way I have to cut them is on my table saw with a incra miter gauge. Although this worked for my risers (3/4" maple )
    I don't think its going to work that great for these 1 1/16" oak treads. Just not the way to cut them. To much movement in the slide and just not safe enough for me.

    So I got the ok to buy a Sliding miter saw.

    Is that the saw I should go with or is there a better option for saws to cut treads ?

  4. #19
    Make a sled for your table saw.

  5. #20
    I have a small sled for my table saw but I know that almost every riser I did
    had a different angle to cut to get them to fit good.
    So I have now way to adjust the angle on my sled. Its good for 90 deg cuts though.

  6. #21
    It is easy to shim the risers in the sled to cut slight angles.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Blog Entries
    If not using adhesive is code and not a safety issue, I'd be tempted to use Green glue instead. Might make a slight noise reduction.
    Particularly with the wood floors

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    North Prairie, WI
    I used my circular saw with the jig I made for sizing the treads. It worked great.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Highland MI
    Blog Entries
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Burke View Post

    So I got the ok to buy a Sliding miter saw.

    Is that the saw I should go with or is there a better option for saws to cut treads ?
    Stop right there Mike. You got the OK, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Of course it would be the absolute best way to cut stair treads. Actually it would. A laser blade tell would be helpful too, as long as it is adjusted properly. Every big project deserves a new tool. And if you put about a 1 degree bevel on the blade it will make the fit even better.
    Last edited by Ole Anderson; 11-19-2019 at 12:22 PM.
    NOW you tell me...

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Concord, NC
    For anyone planning on this type of project, this is an excellent stair jig at a fair price, in case you don't want to make one;

  11. #26
    Coming in a bit late, but since I'm just completed a stair redo, I'll chime in.
    I hated the ugly utility / paint grade stairs in our house so I did the following.

    I cut the noses off the existing treads with a rough cut from a circular saw, then finished up with a flush cutting router bit. Chisels made quick work of the corners.

    Scribed and re-skinned the rough skirt boards with a much nicer 1/4" oak ply. Here is the link to learn how to scribe stair skirts.

    Re-skinned the rough dinged ugly risers with the same 1/4 oak ply.

    Went over the existing treads with red oak StairTek retreads from Home Depot. I bought the unfinished ones and finished them with Watco natural danish oil and Varathane water based satin poly. To be honest, I'm not thrilled with results. The treads are make from a butcher block mix of different colored oak so each one takes the finish differently giving you a very striped finish. Still, they are WAY better looking than what we had before.

    I thought about building a stair gauge but opted to buy a cheap plastic one for only $20. (Stairtek model STTRTO) It was on the shelf at my local Home Depot and it worked well for me.

    The skirt boards and risers were glued with cheap Liquid Nails and pinned in place till it set. The treads were glued down with generous beads of PL Premium and held in place with 18ga air nails. (Well, every tread but one. I ran out of PL and used the left over Liquid Nails. Now, guess which is the only tread that squeaks.) Use the good stuff.

    Stair treads.jpg

    I had 15 steps and, with making the skirt covers, riser covers, pre-painting and pre-staining it took me the better part of a week from start to finish (I'm slow) but it looks great now.
    Last edited by Terry Wawro; 11-23-2019 at 9:45 AM.

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    N.E. Ohio
    For anyone planning on this type of project, this is an excellent stair jig at a fair price, in case you don't want to make one;
    I picked up the Stairtek -

    I had Lowes price match it - from Home Depot - online & had it shipped to store.

    I used my track saw to cut the treads. Made it super, super, super easy.
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  13. #28
    Thanks for all the suggestions
    Update on my project
    I'm on my are the first two installed. I am not a proffesional and I know I'll make some mistakes but Im learning as I go.

    I made a long sled for my table saw to cut the great and I have dust collection on my table saw. Very accurate !! I also made a measuring jig to get the angles right.

    I am using PL Premium and finish screws...some from the back of the riser into the back of the tread and two in each runner.
    They are working out pretty good so fare

    I didn't like the idea of using a air nailer and taking the chance of one blowing out some place..and I didn't like the idea of hand nailing them and pounding and maybe breaking something else loose.
    Figured the finish screws were a Controlled way to fasten them down.

    We are putting Golden Oak watco oil on them and then Fabulon Proffesional finish on them
    I will just need to fill the holes with color putty when done. Get some different colors and match the color as I go.

    Going good so fare IMG_0304.jpg

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Northern virginia
    I bought prefinished treads from One came to the house with a split that I couldn’t work around so they shipped a replacement at N.C. Good service. I found that my Hitachi 18 ga. with 2”” brads would consistently sink the brads below the surface with no blow outs or folded brads. Made a tread gage with 1/2” ply and carriage bolts and wing nuts. My son has already asked to use it. I demoed the builder grade treads and used the recommended adhesive specd by the tread supplier. I also did not demo the risers but just painted them with a gloss white wall paint. I have to say that the improvement in appearance over painted treads is striking. Best yet is that SWMBO is thrilled.

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