Tinan - A question about your stairs

nanny2aNovember 14, 2012

Tinan, I saw a photo of your lovely painted stairs in an earlier post, and had some questions. We also have carpet covered stairs, and the wood underneath is particle board, so both the treads and risers would need to be replaced. You mentioned that you had replaced yours before you painted them. Did you have this done professionally or was it a DIY job? Where did you find the replacement pieces? Can you give me a rough estimate as to the cost to do this?

We want to do this for our house, but just don�t know how to go about it, and what it would cost, so any information or help you could suggest would be very much appreciated. Your stairs look so lovely, and are just what we want!

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lynxe

I am not tinan, obviously :). However, I can tell you that we had to have an entire staircase redone. There had been stairs there, but they were actually outside ones of all things that had, at some point, been enclosed as part of a remuddling job.

We had it done professionally, by our contractor. Maybe you and your DH/partner/whomever have the tools and knowledge for a DIY job, but there's no way we could have done the job ourselves.

I will try to find our receipts so that I can tell you how much the job cost - if possible. A potential problem is that we might have had the stairs replaced as part of a much larger remodeling job. If that's the case, the stair part of the job may or may not be separated out.

We did the painting of risers and staining of handrails, treads, and post ourselves. White risers and much of the post, and a stain very similar to tinan's for the rest. Both the paint and the stain are Mythic products - Mythic is a "green," zero-VOC company. Having once stained all the doors on a large closet area in our former house with the usual (whatever one picks up at the hardware store), I'll never go that route again! We now use only low/no-VOC and "green" products for stains, primers,and paints.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 5:32PM
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tinan

I did it all myself, and I didn't replace the treads and risers (which were rough plywood) I simply covered them with the new treads and risers!

here's how:

1. remove all carpet and tack strips, nails, and as much glue etc as you can get off.

2. using a jigsaw, cut off any overhang on the existing steps, make sure you get a straight cut so the front face of the riser is smooth and the edge is flush. This was the most labor intensive part!

3. measure the risers at the back of each step from the top of the tread of the existing step to the top of the front of the next step. Most stairs are standard riser height and I did not need to cut the risers lengthwise thank goodness. The risers should be the same height as this measured distance with not too much difference (less than 1/2" variance I would say). I did have to cut the top riser off so it would be flush with the second floor since this method results in the addition of about 3/4" to every step. I also had to make 2 cutouts on the bottom-most riser to accommodate the baseboards.

4. Measure the width of the treads wall to wall on all steps. Take the smallest measurement as your tread width (any gaps can later be filled with caulk or covered by trim).

5. Count up how many risers and treads you will need and go to Lowes and buy them - I got pine bullnose treads and primed MDF risers. Ask them to cut all the boards to your width determined above on their big saw. They may grumble, but their signs say they will do this!

6. I painted and stained the boards in the back yard before installation so I didn't have to worry about the walls, and to avoid stain fumes in the house. I used minwax one step stain/polyurethane on the treads and regular eggshell on the risers. Both took 2 coats.

7. install the risers in front of the existing risers with Liquid Nails wood glue or another very strong carpentry glue. You will set the riser right down at the back of the existing tread. You may also need to use a couple of finishing nails. Mine stuck on pretty good just holding it there for a few minutes but I added 2 nails per riser just to make sure, I put the nails near the top where they would be shadowed by the tread overhand later. Let the glue set for a few hours as per directions on the glue.

8. Install the treads over top of the existing ones, overhanging the risers. I used very generous amounts of carpenter's glue and then 6 long dark finishing nails per tread. Avoid walking near the overhand part of the tread until the glue has reached full hardness (sometimes 1-2 days). Make sure people only walk at the back of the steps near the risers, and carefully!

9. Touch up with paint any spots where you put nails etc on the risers. fills gaps at the sides with caulk or cover with trim. My gaps were small enough I just left them!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 6:22PM
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tinan

I'm attaching a crude diagram. Black represents the existing stairs, and where to cut off any overhang (which usually is present with carpet stairs). The blue is how to position new risers and the purple is the new treads.

The entire project cost about $250 and took a about a full day total. A few hours to cut the overhangs (I did a few steps at a time, painting and staining, and the install was the fastest part.

My top riser as I mentioned I had to cut off about 3/4" with the jigsaw (I put the uneven jigsaw cut edge down so it was covered by the tread of the second to the top step) and it is flush with the flooring on the second floor. I painted the top edge of the riser as well so it looks like a trim piece from above and I didn't need to buy any special trim. I didn't want anything sticking up that might trip people.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 6:33PM
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tinan

Before we purchased:

Here were the stairs after carpet and tack strip removal - yuck!!!

During tack strip removal

after hallway painted but before flooring started

with paint done and flooring going down but still yucky bare stairs

I wish I'd remembered to take pictures during the treads/risers install...

after

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 6:44PM
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Janice742

Holy mackerel. That was a lot of work - but well worth the stunning results.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 10:07PM
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Cindyloo123

$250!!! Are those oak treads? I thought those were at least $50 each?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 1:32PM
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Cindyloo123

Ooops, never mind. I see now that they are pine. For a minute there I thought I could redo my stairs with oak for $250.
Your stairs are beautiful, I am just worried that the pine would be too soft and prone to dents, etc.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 1:35PM
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erinsean

Your stairs are beautiful. That said, I had those in one of my houses and found that the white riser was always getting dirty from the toes (shoes) of people going up the stairs. Had to repaint them every so often but worth it. Yours are so pretty.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 2:15PM
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tinan

Yes pine is soft and could dent. However I am OK with an "antique, used" look - far better than carpet in any case. I put a nice coat of the protective stain with polyurethane and so far no scratches or dents. It's actually far more resilient than the expensive engineered wood floors we had in our last condo. We have cats with unclipped nails

We don't wear shoes in the house, so scuffs on the risers are not a problem.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 3:45PM
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Cindyloo123

Thanks for that info Tinan. Did each step measure exactly the same or did you measure every single one and mark them as they were cut? I can't believe you did that yourself.

I was going to put oak on my stairs and I thought the installed price would come to around $2,000. I've temporarily painted them, but now I'm thinking I will try the pine!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 5:11PM
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nanny2a

Thanks, Tinan! Looks like I have my next project to add to my DIY list. I will definitely do this, and am really excited about it now that I see what you did. We are planning on putting down new carpet upstairs, so perhaps I should do this first? I would really prefer wood upstairs, too, which we already did downstairs, but it is not in the budget at present. DH will have enough of a cow when I tell him this is now on my project list.....but I know he will agree that it looks great and needs to be done. He is not the handyman with this type of project, I am! I am so excited to get this started, but will probably have to wait until the first of the year to get it started.

Pine would work for me, too. My workshop is on the second level of the house, and I am the only one who uses these stairs 98% of the time, so they should not get too much traffic, but will look so much better!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 6:05PM
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tinan

Here are the specific products I used... you can sign up for a Lowes card in store and get 20% off, even if you don't actually go through with the application or use the card.

Unfinished pine treads with bullnose>

- this looked pretty bad after 1 coat (unevenly soaked in) I thought I'd made a mistake but after 2 coats it looked great.

I put in vinyl "wood" plank floors upstairs and down. It was a total of less than $1000 for the flooring for the 1500 sq ft townhouse, and I installed it all myself never having done any flooring or in fact any home reno projects before! At first I couldn't decide what to do with the stars - I definitely did not want carpet as we were putting in all hard floor everywhere else. I priced oak treads and those covertreads and everything was over $2000 as you said (not spending that when I put in the entire house flooring for half the price!).

Yes if you are putting in new carpet upstairs I would do the stairs first so you can go over the top lip with the carpet rolled over for a finished look.

Here's the upstairs hallway looking into the office after the floor was done but before the stairs (I had to finish the floors so we could move in, stairs were done a few weeks later while I figured out what to do with them - we walked on the yucky splintery plywood steps for a bit!

Our steps were not all the same width they were wider at the top of the staircase than the bottom by about 1/2". I just took the shortest measurement of all the steps and had all the treads and risers cut to that size. I wasn't sure if I would be able to convince the Lowes people to cut different pieces to different widths let along keep track of them! As it was, their cutting had some variance anyway within 1/2" so before gluing and nailing things in place, I just tried out the individual pieces on each step and moved them around to get the widest pieces on the widest steps and vice versa. There were only small gaps at the side of some steps which you can see in this photo... I just don't mind them. If you don't like even small cracks/gaps you can fill with caulk and paint over the caulk or you can get stair trim (but that would add to the cost and the labor of cutting all the trim).

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 7:27PM
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Cindyloo123

Thank you for all that detail Tinan. Actually I think you HAVE to leave some gaps for expansion. I absolutely hate shoe moulding and I can live with seeing the gaps. As you said, caulk would probably make them disappear anyway.

I am very impressed that you did all that flooring. Take a bow!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 7:59PM
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