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jenmarie 07-17-2012 03:51 PM

Deck stair tread and riser aesthetics
I'm having an ipe wood deck built currently ... the stairs are almost complete, but I was dismayed to see this after the contractor left today:

I haven't talked to him yet, but I imagine he has some plan to hide that gap between the riser and the tread with a molding (we plan on using a cove molding anyway). However, I think that the mitered piece of tread that serves as the bullnose ought to be notched (and sharp edges eased) and should extend into the frame, like so (Photoshopped):

What do you think? Any better solutions?

Also, my guess is that the contractor is going to place a quarter-round to cover the uneven gaps between the treads and the risers. I'm not crazy about this idea as it reduces the tread depth. Any opinions?


joecaption 07-17-2012 03:56 PM

Your second picture is the way it should have been done.
I would never use 1/4 round or in fact any trim to cover the gap between the tread and the riser.
It will allow water to flow though and not rot out the wood over time.

woody4249 07-17-2012 04:26 PM

It looks like you must have had some discussion with the carpenter as the tread return on the same step is different in the second photo.
We don't call them "Gaps" we call them "Spacings" and should be somewhat uniform. I would suggest about 3/16" is common practice
I'm with Joe's above post and agree that the spacings are for water drainage and also for expansion and contraction.The molding will only attract later problems.
When critiquing workmanship, look for good nail or screw pattens,tight mitre joints, straight laid boards and randomly dispersed splicing.


jenmarie 07-17-2012 04:36 PM

Thanks, Mike and Joe.

The second photo in my original post was Photoshopped to illustrate how I think it ought to look. I'll show this to my contractor tomorrow.

I can be kind of a micro-manager and perfectionist at times, so I've tried to relax and stay out of our contractor's way. Unfortunately, not everyone seems to have the same "aesthetic sensibilities" as me. :whistling2:

Wish I'd gone out there to take a look while they were in progress - there are two sets of stairs, so there are four mitered pieces that will need to be removed and replaced.

tony.g 07-17-2012 04:40 PM

The riser was obviously cut too narrow (hence the gap in the second photo) and those mitred pieces will work loose sooner or later (unless they are tongued, which I doubt).

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