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Old 01-30-2012, 11:57 PM   #1
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


My wood stairs are pretty beat up (dented, chipped, etc.), and I also have gaps between many of my treads/risers. So...I decided to simply patch things up and paint the stairs.

My floor guy said I could just use Bondo to smooth out all the chips/dents, and could also use this to fill all those gaps mentioned above. Is this really okay?? I would think that routine walking would flex things and lead to this cracking. If not, any other suggestions on how to patch??

*To note: Ill likely put a runner on the stairs, so this would at least cover, protect, and soften the blow on the part of the stairs that's receiving all the traffic.

I've put notes on the first photo at the link below. Any assistance would really be appreciated.

Thanks so much for your help.


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Old 01-31-2012, 12:07 AM   #2
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


Depends on what you want them to look like.
Want them to look great then it's time to change them and install new treads, sand and refinish the risers.
Want them to look like cheap patched up painted stairs then do as you suggested.

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Old 01-31-2012, 12:23 AM   #3
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


If money were no object, yesId replace the stairs. (And in truth, even if I had the money, I often prefer to try to salvage the original things, as to me brand new wood sometimes looks conspicuous/out of place in an old building like this.)

For better or worse, I need to find a middle ground. The floor guy originally suggested covering the risers with a new sheet of 1/4" wood to both cover all the flaws, as well as conceal the gaps at the bottom between the treads/risers. Once he found out Im going to paint things though, he thought it was a waste of my moneyand that I should just patch and paint. As such, Im just trying to find out if any patches out there will survive on stairs.
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Old 01-31-2012, 01:09 AM   #4
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


You will go crazy trying to sand off all the excess filler from nooks and crannies.

Stairs on old houses are not expected to look like mirrors; I think you will be much happier at the end of the day if you just sand them, put bondo on any deeper gouges that are easy to sand smooth afterwards (not on gaps between boards), smooth down a bit (round) the bullnoses with sand paper, and do a good job painting them. Once they are all the same uniform color, the defects that are left won't bother you.
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Old 01-31-2012, 01:17 AM   #5
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


Anyone that would even suggest covering stair treads with 1/4 plywood is not a flooring guy, he's a hack.
Plywood would wear through and show the plys.
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Old 01-31-2012, 01:51 AM   #6
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


If you plan to install a runner then you could install these on each side of the runner. One is if your stairs are wall to wall and the other is if you have an open one side stairs. Here is a link where these are still a little spendy but not as high as some places.
http://www.stairwarehouse.com/falsetreads.html

In the link you will see that the riser is furnished with the false cap. I agree with you, any filler that dries rigid will usually crack under flexing unless it is maybe epoxy.
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Old 01-31-2012, 01:59 AM   #7
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


Quote:
Originally Posted by RinSF View Post
If money were no object, yesId replace the stairs. (And in truth, even if I had the money, I often prefer to try to salvage the original things, as to me brand new wood sometimes looks conspicuous/out of place in an old building like this.)

For better or worse, I need to find a middle ground. The floor guy originally suggested covering the risers with a new sheet of 1/4" wood to both cover all the flaws, as well as conceal the gaps at the bottom between the treads/risers. Once he found out Im going to paint things though, he thought it was a waste of my moneyand that I should just patch and paint. As such, Im just trying to find out if any patches out there will survive on stairs.
Sorry, I didn't read all your post before I posted, could you take a picture or two and tell us a little about your home and type of wood on your stairs. The old homes are a different matter all together, I agree you don't want things to look new in the old homes, you want things to look like they have always been there.
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Old 01-31-2012, 01:19 PM   #8
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


Jim,
There were some photos of the problem stairs in the original post, but I've put a new link down below showing some pics of the rest of the house. (Yes, it's a bit of a construction zone, take with a grain of salt!)

Anyhow, the floor guys are here as I write. It sounds like I'm going to continue with my original plan and sand everything -- both treads and risers -- and paint (i.e., no new wood on the risers).

The remaining question mark is still those gaps between the treads and risers. He maintains that Bondo will work, but even with a runner and a no-shoes policy, I can't imagine the flex won't crack it in time. Possibly one option is to Bondo up to 1/4" from the top, and then use caulk for the last 1/4" as it will remain more flexible. Also, if there's a runner, only the sides of each step will be showing...and that should be where there's the least amount of flex. I guess we'll see :/

Thanks

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Old 01-31-2012, 05:52 PM   #9
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


I'm sorry that I have been out most of the day and may be too late. Where are the gaps at the back of the treads or under the front edge of the treads? If you are going to paint and the gaps aren't too wide caulk the gaps if they are at the top back of the tread, if they are under the front edge of the tread install a small trim like a scotica mold or a thin ogee. If you caulk you can take your putty knife and pull it along the caulked gap and make the caulk good and square, that way it won't be seen after painting.
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:53 PM   #10
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


The gaps between the treads and risers in your pics will definitely crack if you just fill with bondo--don't do it. It'll work fine for the surfaces (assuming you prep them correctly) While I don't love it, you'd be better off using a bit of scribe or dental trim--take a cue for the style from other trim nearby. Looks like you've got some Craftsman-style trim in the home, so the slightly ornate quality will blend well. Error on the side of thin. Like 5/16ths maybe.

This is just an opinion. Like I said, I don't love it. I've done several staircases and sometimes its better to start from scratch. Just finished a set in Philly. We tore the old oak 70's thing out and went a little wild with our welding toys.
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:05 PM   #11
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


Side note, your house is going to look AWESOME when you are done, I love the 2nd floor family room! Keep it up!
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Old 01-31-2012, 09:54 PM   #12
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


RenoStruct, thanks for your help. I typically don't like molding at the base of the risers, but I guess that's because they're often huge quarter-rounds. I'll look around...maybe there's something less conspicuous I can go with that will cover those gaps.

Regarding the family room, I'm actually not sure if you were referring to that (as it's only just visible through some doorways in some of the photos) or possibly the dining room, but regardless, thanks for the compliment. The building itself is an Edwardian and very modest in its detail, but for some reason they went crazy on the dining room with all the Moorish themes built into the wall trim and hutch. I think we have 5 houses in a row here with identical blueprints inside (facades are all different), so they all have the same dining room. As for the living room, I don't like altering original things, but that fireplace might get a makeover. It's some ugly, so I'm thinking making an entirely new front from painted white wood with details and such. We'll see.
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Old 02-01-2012, 12:01 PM   #13
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


If you have deep voids that run the length of the tread, why not clean them up and glue in a fillet. Then use pocket screws from above or below (if you have access) to hold them tight. If the nosing is cracked, predrill and use long trim screws and glue. Most carpet guys I know don't like to have a moulding under the nosing as they like to staple the runner tight to the underside.
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Old 02-01-2012, 07:22 PM   #14
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Bondo or Durham's for repairing stairs??


filling and sanding will work to some degree.. it may take several passes for it to come out perfect. it depends on if you like spending a lot of time on it

as mentioned earlier putting a thin layer over the old riser works.. i wouldnt use actual plywood though. 1/4 mdf works just fine, you just need to fill and sand the ends so the visable joint is seamless for when paint hits it. ive done it this way for a extremely picky client and she was very happy with the finished product

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