Old Beat Up Stair Treads

parkplazaOctober 5, 2008

Pulled my carpet up on my stairs going to my basment, wood underneath is shot in terms of appearance. I reinforced the stairs underneath each tread by building a structure underneath each tread for support. It is solid, but the treads are not nice. Wood is not hardwood. Do they make kits that you can attach to the top? I read one site were they cut the nose off each tread to add a new tread to the top. Do they make something less complicated that has a curved piece that goes over this lip? I would like something super durable like a non wood product.

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Putting a new tread on top of the existing one is dangerous because at the top step you would have an unexpectedly different riser height unless you also raised the height of the adjoining floor or landing. A skilled carpenter could rebuild your stairs. But since this a main floor to basement stairway, why bother? Paint the ugly wood with some jazzy-colored floor paint and declare it done.


    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 7:12PM
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Not sure how your stairs are constructed or what your DIY skills may be... but, removing and replacing stair treads is not that big a job in some cases. My DH has taken our worn stair treads off and flipped the worn side over and replaced them for a bit more wear until we get to the job of really working on the stairs and replacing the treads with new ones. Flipping them might be an option for you.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 11:16AM
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I think the only way is to add to the top of them. The treads are fitted into the sides of the staircase, which I guess was channeled out. I could hack them out, but would never get a replacement back in. The staircase is closed off from underneath..

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 6:01PM
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I think you should spend some time reverse engineering your stair assembly. Figure out what was the last part in, and then the next to last, until you determine how the treads were laid in. Then you'll know how to access them for flipping or replacement. Just because they are in a channel (a dado) doesn't mean they can't be gotten out, for repair or replacement.

Your idea of just adding to the treads is really a huge safety issue. You can't have steps with significantly uneven heights - people will trip and fall because we develop a kinesthetic sense of what the rhythm is as we go up and down. If it varies (as it must since you can't add to the height of the top step) trouble will result.

There are some good books on stair assembly, and possibly repair at Home Depot and Lowes. Perhaps that will help you with your project.



    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 7:17PM
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HOw about some good quality rubber treads? I believe they have them that almost cover the whole step. I think that and snazzy paint would be good!


    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 10:07PM
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What about these? The are 1/2" thick. Would you notice this being every stair will have it?

The staircase treads I do not see being replaced. They were installed from behind and wedges jammed in. I do not see how they could be reinstalled without being able to get under the staircase.

Here is a link that might be useful: How do these look?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 10:22AM
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Those look nice. You state that your stairs had carpet before. Will the top step/landing on the upper floor still be covered in carpet? If so, I'd think this may work just fine.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 1:29PM
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No, the top landing is the kitchen floor which remains the same. How much can you actually feel regarding height variances? Being there was carpet on the stairs, I am guessing with the mat and carpet, the new tread on top of the old worn treads will be of similar height?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 8:49PM
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Check out the bottom right of the page...the one step tread. Boy is it expensive though.

Is laminate more durable on a stair than a real piece of oak?

Here is a link that might be useful: found these too

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 8:55PM
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You can feel any height variance over about 1/8- 1/4", I think. It's not an just aesthetic issue (though it would be that, too). It's a safety problem because when going up stairs you put your foot where the height of the previous risers has made you expect the next tread and unless you take each step from full-stop to full-stop, one at a time, you are doing a fairly complex balancing of your weight in motion. If any step is higher or lower than expected the automatic shift of your body weight will happen at the wrong time and you could trip and fall.

I know when one has projects where you lay a new floor on top of an old one at the bottom of a staircase without making adjustments to the stair treads you can run into big problems, including code issues, I believe. The solution in that situation is to divide the new rise by the number of treads (minus two) and shim up each tread over the whole run, or most of it, to make them all even. So you can see that the additional height of new flooring (only a couple of inches or so) is divided into very small fractions.

I was thinking you would have the height problem at the top of the stairs, but on thinking it through I can see now that it will be on the last step on to the current basement floor where the different height would show up since you wouldn't be adding the new tread to floor where it is not worn.

Going down, the floor in the basement will feel as if it isn't there for a fraction of second because that rise will be 1/2 inch higher (assuming you add a 1/2 panel to the other treads). Going up, the second step will catch you by surprise since it will be shorter than the first step.

I am puzzled why, on basement steps, simply painting them won't suffice. Without replacing the treads, you won't have a very pretty look anyway unless you get quite elaborate trimming out the nose (leading edge) of the tread and that will be a complicated carpentry job if the stair treads are worn down in the center.

I believe I read an article in Fine Homebuilding that described the solution to uneven tread height. Some of their issues are available on line, and I believe the index is free, so you could look and then try to find the right back issue. But any book on stair building should also offer you some suggestions.

I wouldn't choose laminate over wood for stair treads as I think it is too slippery.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 4:06AM
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