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Installing wood stairs...how to trim sides

Posted by weedyacres (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 12, 11 at 20:16

I just ripped out some hideous berber carpet on our stairs. What's left is pine risers and treads, upper part between two walls, lower part has one side exposed. And the treads are only 9" deep, a code violation even with the carpet. I've hated them ever since we moved in 4 years ago.
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My plans are:
Risers: 1/8" plywood, cut to size, nailed to existing riser, putty holes, paint cream to match the trim all over the house.
Treads: oak treads, cut to size, dark stain + poly, nailed or screwed into place. Possibly some cove molding under the lip of the tread, since it'll be overhanging about 2".

My questions:
1. I'm planning to cut the treads to size and stain/poly them before putting them into place. Do I use nails or screws? I used finish nails on the trim around the top and it doesn't feel as secure as screws would. However, if I use screws, then I'll need to plug the holes and then stain/poly just the plugs. And that won't look very even, will it? Do I just have to stain them in place and clean up the surrounding paint afterwards?
2. Right now the pine treads and risers extend past the edge of the open wall. I'm going to cut those flush with the wall. The treads will over hang the wall, but the risers will be flush. But then after installing the new risers and treads, you'll be able to see the edge of the pine boards. I know there's trim you can install (or skirting) but then you'll see the edge of the trim on the riser. What's the right way to do this so you don't see any raw edges?


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RE: Installing wood stairs...how to trim sides

Usually you attach a piece on the exposed end of the tread with the same round over on the edge and overhang as the front of the tread (a return). The grain direction of the return is perpendicular to that of the tread. Glue the return on before you install the treads. A jig to use with a router and a pattern bit is worth making so that the 45 degree corner at the front comes out even. The return usually is longer than the tread is deep so that it extends over part of the skirt board. We used to use 12d galvanized finish nails with a good quality construction adhesive (polyurethane) on the bottom of the tread. Lay out the nails in a nice symmetric pattern. Predrilling for the nails is an option. You can use trim screws if you want but once it is set the glue will hold the tread in place. Usually the joint between the riser and skirt board is made at a 45 degree angle. For full thickness risers a locking joint at the bottom of the riser to the back of the tread stiffens the staircase. Check your local code for the overhang and rise variation between adjacent treads


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