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Old 02-18-2013, 02:07 PM   #1
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Can starting step tread be 3/4" deeper than other treads?


I am replacing the carpeting on the stairs with wood treads and I want to do that so the stairs are within code (of course) and also so that they look nice enough when I am done. I first considered hiring a professional to completely tear out the existing stairs (treads, risers, housed stringer on right side, open stringer on left side, etc.) and install new stairs. After getting a few quotes to do that (expensive) and thinking things through a bit more I decided to install 'retro treads" instead. One of the 'problems' I have come across with a retro tread install is that there is a sizable gap (about 3/4") between the starting step riser and the floor tiles. This happened because the floor tiles were installed while the carpet was in place and the tile installer didn't take care to avoid this gap (my bad for not dealing with this at the time the floor tiles were installed but it was not noticable at the time). Anyway, to deal with this problem now, I thought of two possible methods for the retro tread install:

1) Add a 3/4" thick riser board to all steps so that all step treads would remain 11 1/4" deep (from front of riser to leading end of bull nosing).

2) Add a 3/4" thick riser board to only the starting step and use a starting step tread that is 3/4" deeper. In other words, the starting step tread would be 12" deep while the other step treads would remain 11 1/4" deep. The remaining risers (which are mitered to the outside stringer) would remain uncovered and painted to match the housed stringer on the right and the outside stringer on the left.

I presume that method 1) would be the right way to do it but it has its complications (mitering the left edge of the new riser to a new skirtboard attached to the outside of the existing outside stringer, extending the landing bull nose out another 3/4", etc). I prefer to use method 2) but I am not sure if the 12" deep first step tread would be within code. I am hoping there is some flexibility in the code for a starting step but I didn't see anything mentioned in what I have read so far. Does anyone know this one way or the other with certainty? I am located in California if that matters.

Thanks
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By the way, I did start a different thread earlier related to this project, asking about the housed stringer, but I thought it best to start a new topic as this question is a bit off topic for that thread. Just thought I would mention it....
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Should I replace wall skirt when installing new retro treads on existing stairs
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Last edited by hkeiner; 02-18-2013 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 02-18-2013, 02:38 PM   #2
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Can starting step tread be 3/4" deeper than other treads?


Most codes require all treads and risers to be within 1/8" max between largest and smallest. Legal doesn't always mean right. Usually that much difference will cause people to trip, worse within the run more than the first or last one. Your problem putting all new risers will be the miter from riser to the skirt board, unless you can move the skirt 3/4" forward too. If not you will always see end grain on every riser. Almost impossible to hide even with paint. You could make the risers a little longer and add a skirt bracket mitered to each riser on top of the skirt. Most lumber yards have some millwork catalog to look in, (BROSCO around New England). They are about 3/16" thick

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Old 02-18-2013, 04:16 PM   #3
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Can starting step tread be 3/4" deeper than other treads?


U could always put base trim with only 1/4 in riser or thinner depending on thickness of base
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Old 02-18-2013, 04:31 PM   #4
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Can starting step tread be 3/4" deeper than other treads?


Based upon the excellent advice stated in the previous posts, I will not be installing a 12 starting step tread. I now see that it was a goofy idea, but initially tempting because it was an easy option.

Before I go further in my planning, I thought I would aks if their might be any other professional looking solutions for dealing with the 3/4" gap between the bottom riser and the floor tiles. Just fishing for ideas before I start buying materials for this project.
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Old 02-18-2013, 04:48 PM   #5
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Can starting step tread be 3/4" deeper than other treads?


Quote:

U could always put base trim with only 1/4 in riser or thinner depending on thickness of base
Can you explain your suggestion in a bit more detail? Perhaps I got it wrong, but it seems you are suggesting that I put a 1/4" riser over the existing riser for only the starting tread step and then put a base trim on top of that? That would cover up the gap allright, but would this be to code? I ask because the nosing overhang on the starting step tread would be less (by 1/4" riser and the thickness of the base trim) than on all the other steps.
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Last edited by hkeiner; 02-18-2013 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 02-18-2013, 04:52 PM   #6
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Can starting step tread be 3/4" deeper than other treads?


Just a guess, why not just use 3/4", 1/4 round?
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:01 PM   #7
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Can starting step tread be 3/4" deeper than other treads?


What I meant if the gap was 3/4 at the biggest spot u could probably get away with just continuing the base trim around the stair over tile with maybe grout touch up at base. But if the gap was to big than yea I was saying to put s pack out only on bottom riser ( if only had to be 1/8 go 1/8 or 1/4 max because its bottom step u wouldn't notice the difference. U wouldn't be making the tread longer do by code u would be fine. ( sorry I am a carpenter so have the experience just not good at exposing in writing)
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Old 02-18-2013, 07:52 PM   #8
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Can starting step tread be 3/4" deeper than other treads?


It looks like you have one tile that needs to be replaced and the remaining gap becomes something around 1/4".
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:24 PM   #9
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Can starting step tread be 3/4" deeper than other treads?


Quote:
It looks like you have one tile that needs to be replaced and the remaining gap becomes something around 1/4".
Thanks for the suggestion. That is probably the best solution. I don't have a replacement tile on hand, but I am going to try to find a match (or pretty close) at a local tile shop and hope for the best.

If I do not find a good tile match, I'll have to go back to plan one and do something with the wood trim, such as adding a riser, baseboard molding, quarter round, base shoe, etc. (or a combination of these) along the existing riser for the starting step. The trick will be finding a combination that meets code requirments and also looks professional (rather that a bad DIY trim job).

By the way, I took some measuments of the overhang on all the existing treads (from the front edge of a tread to the surface of the riser below it) and found the following. Since I will be cutting off the bull noses of all these treads and installing retro-treads on top of them, I am not sure if there is a little wiggle room in the depth of the new treads while leaving the risers on all the other steps alone. Just a thought...

Step.....Overhang
1....... 1 3/8"
2....... na*
3....... 1 1/8"
4....... 1 1/8"
5....... 1 2/8"
6....... 1 2/8"
7....... 1 2/8"
8....... 1 2/8"
9....... 1 1/8"


* I already removed the nosing on step 2

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Last edited by hkeiner; 02-18-2013 at 10:32 PM.
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