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Thread: from carpet to wood stairs, looks nice but squeaky like crazy?

  1. #1

    from carpet to wood stairs, looks nice but squeaky like crazy?

    So I have finally got ride of the old carpet on the stairs and replaced it with hardwood. I made(edge glued) the red oak treads myself, as well as the MDF risers. I also hardwired led lights under the noses.

    Yesterday I finally put everything together, had to shim most of the stairs as there were almost 1/4 difference from the back to front on quite some old treads. I used PL300 to glue the shims and treads(did not use any nails)

    Everything looks nice, BUT, the new stairs squeak loudly when people walk on it, it seems every treads is squeaky.

    I am not sure what might be the reason, the shims? or I cut the treads too tight they rub the skirtboard? How can I tell and is there any fix? Thanks!

    stairbefore2.jpg

    YG5_3176.jpg

    YG5_3171.jpg
    Last edited by Forrest Gon; 09-16-2021 at 6:27 PM.

  2. #2
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    Did you test and deal with squeaks and creaks before applying the new material over the old? The carpet likely would have masked the noise a lot. Now you don't have that benefit and the underlying structure could be the cause of the issue.
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  3. #3
    Before I installed the new treads, without carpet the stairs squeaked only a little bit, but now it squeaks really bad.

    My first time doing this, so had no experience what should I have checked,




    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Did you test and deal with squeaks and creaks before applying the new material over the old? The carpet likely would have masked the noise a lot. Now you don't have that benefit and the underlying structure could be the cause of the issue.

  4. #4
    Pretty hard to say without examining the stairs and might not be apparent even then. If it was squeaking before tread installation they cannot be the whole issue. If you still have access to the under side I would try shims to tighten the connections with construction adhesive. If you have to fasten from the top, you may want to use trim head screws. They require only small holes which you can fill with color matching wax.

    The big issue seems to be to know what exactly is squeaking.

  5. #5
    I do have access from under side.

    I just tested on another set of stairs which I have also had carpet removed. Without the new tread the is no squeak when I step on it. But after I put the new tread on the squeak starts. I made the tread pretty tight on both sides. Is it possible the sides are rubbing the skirtboard?

  6. #6
    Forrest, that actually looks really nice. However, I'm worried that you don't have a bullnose on the front edge of the treads. I'm sure you don't want to hear this, but in most localities, that would not comply with building code and is going to cause you some major headache when/if you ever sell the place. Additionally, I imagine there may be some comfort problems if you're stepping on that sharp edge, and possibly long-term issues with that sharp edge wearing and causing splinters, etc. I hate to say it, but I think that alone is a good reason to tear it out and do it correctly.

    Also note that stairs generally have some very stringent requirements for rise and run variation, and level-ness of individual steps. It sounds like you had to do a lot of shimming - hopefully the end result complies. If you've ever stepped down a set of stairs with even a 1/2" rise difference, it's downright dangerous - you can easily trip. When you added these treads, did you add the same thickness flooring at the top and bottom of the stairs to keep the rise of the first and last steps consistent?

    Squeaking is caused by movement. A solidly-built staircase with thick treads and risers should not have movement. So to eliminate the squeaks, you need to find what's moving and stop it from moving. Having the treads tight to the skirtboards is not a problem (and is certainly aesthetically preferred) if neither is moving.

    I'd suggest tearing the treads and risers off and evaluating the rigidity of the underlying structure. If it's typical particle board stair treads, consider removing them and replacing with good quality plywood, screwed together and liberally glued with PL300. Likewise for the typical builder-grade 1/4" plywood risers. If possible, add another stringer in the middle. Make sure everything is level and will meets rise and run requirements after you install the oak treads and MDF risers, including accounting for the first and last steps correctly.

  7. #7
    Hi Dan, thanks for the reply, I do have bullnose on the front edge, for every tread, I cut a 1/2 strip from the same tread board and glued it back to make a square bullnose, see attached photo here.

    back.jpg

    I have not worked on the landing area yet, but it appears that i need to do something there to keep the rise of the first and last steps consistent.

    The old stair treads are 1.5' thick wood(pine?).

    And I just tested on one tread by screw 10 2' screws from under side, and it does not change much.(maybe a little bit better?) And I noticed when I step on one tread, the other treads are also squeaking....

    oh boy....

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forrest Gon View Post
    Hi Dan, thanks for the reply, I do have bullnose on the front edge, for every tread, I cut a 1/2 strip from the same tread board and glued it back to make a square bullnose, see attached photo here.
    I think you misunderstood what Dan was referring to. A bullnose is rounded off. Your treads are squared off. Typically, the nose of a tread will have a 1/2" radius bullnose on it. While they look beautiful, your stairs would be pretty nasty to use without shoes on and a real danger to anyone who falls down the stairs.

    Count the squeaking as an blessing. You can dismantle the treads, attend to the movement, and put a bullnose on them.

  9. #9
    hmmm, I have seen some modern stairs which have square nose.

    On the other hand, will it be possible to dismantle the new treads while the PL300 has already set?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Pratt View Post
    I think you misunderstood what Dan was referring to. A bullnose is rounded off. Your treads are squared off. Typically, the nose of a tread will have a 1/2" radius bullnose on it. While they look beautiful, your stairs would be pretty nasty to use without shoes on and a real danger to anyone who falls down the stairs.

    Count the squeaking as an blessing. You can dismantle the treads, attend to the movement, and put a bullnose on them.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forrest Gon View Post
    Is it possible the sides are rubbing the skirtboard?
    I would bet money that is what's happening. The stringers are moving. Go underneath, carefully locate the studs, shim the gap between the stringer and the wall, and run a 1/4" deck screw (bolt?) I forget what they are called, into every other stud on both sides. Pre drill into the studs whatever the shank of the screw is so you don't just split the stud apart. That should solve the problem.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forrest Gon View Post
    ...will it be possible to dismantle the new treads while the PL300 has already set?
    Nope. At least not in any practical way.
    Going back and reading again, is it possible you glued your new treads to the old treads without first screwing down the old treads to the stringers??? If so, when you are underneath bolting the stringers to the walls, at the very least, run a messy, pressed firmly into place and sticking to both tread and stringer bead of construction adhesive on every single spot you can find.

    Plus, I agree with all points made about messing up the rises. Especially coming down a stair, the body adjusts to the gait. When it changes abruptly at the bottom, it can be a problem. But there are tons of stairs out there with this situation. It can be dangerous, but mostly it's just sloppy and very bad form.
    Last edited by Dave Zellers; 09-17-2021 at 1:04 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Friedrichs View Post
    Forrest, that actually looks really nice. However, I'm worried that you don't have a bullnose on the front edge of the treads. I'm sure you don't want to hear this, but in most localities, that would not comply with building code and is going to cause you some major headache when/if you ever sell the place. Additionally, I imagine there may be some comfort problems if you're stepping on that sharp edge, and possibly long-term issues with that sharp edge wearing and causing splinters, etc. I hate to say it, but I think that alone is a good reason to tear it out and do it correctly.

    Also note that stairs generally have some very stringent requirements for rise and run variation, and level-ness of individual steps. It sounds like you had to do a lot of shimming - hopefully the end result complies. If you've ever stepped down a set of stairs with even a 1/2" rise difference, it's downright dangerous - you can easily trip. When you added these treads, did you add the same thickness flooring at the top and bottom of the stairs to keep the rise of the first and last steps consistent?

    Squeaking is caused by movement. A solidly-built staircase with thick treads and risers should not have movement. So to eliminate the squeaks, you need to find what's moving and stop it from moving. Having the treads tight to the skirtboards is not a problem (and is certainly aesthetically preferred) if neither is moving.

    I'd suggest tearing the treads and risers off and evaluating the rigidity of the underlying structure. If it's typical particle board stair treads, consider removing them and replacing with good quality plywood, screwed together and liberally glued with PL300. Likewise for the typical builder-grade 1/4" plywood risers. If possible, add another stringer in the middle. Make sure everything is level and will meets rise and run requirements after you install the oak treads and MDF risers, including accounting for the first and last steps correctly.
    Bullnose is not required, Code specifies a 9/16 maximum radius. There is no minimum.

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  13. #13
    That is right, I did not add new screws to the old treads as i could see they were already screwed to the stringers.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Zellers View Post
    Nope. At least not in any practical way.
    Going back and reading again, is it possible you glued your new treads to the old treads without first screwing down the old treads to the stringers??? If so, when you are underneath bolting the stringers to the walls, at the very least, run a messy, pressed firmly into place and sticking to both tread and stringer bead of construction adhesive on every single spot you can find.

    Plus, I agree with all points made about messing up the rises. Especially coming down a stair, the body adjusts to the gait. When it changes abruptly at the bottom, it can be a problem. But there are tons of stairs out there with this situation. It can be dangerous, but mostly it's just sloppy and very bad form.

  14. #14
    Thanks, I just went under the stairs and pushed and pulled the two stringer boards, and the stairs squeaks while I was doing that. Does that indicate anything?


    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Zellers View Post
    I would bet money that is what's happening. The stringers are moving. Go underneath, carefully locate the studs, shim the gap between the stringer and the wall, and run a 1/4" deck screw (bolt?) I forget what they are called, into every other stud on both sides. Pre drill into the studs whatever the shank of the screw is so you don't just split the stud apart. That should solve the problem.

  15. #15
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    You mentioned shims. How many per tread and where are they located? I'm inclined to think the new tread flexing and causing movement between the new tread, old tread, shims and skirtboards.

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