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Hank98 01-05-2012 10:55 AM

Installing new stair treads
This is my first post here, and I am looking forward to reading your advise. I'm in the middle of a project to renovate the stairway in our home. It is a single return stairway that was carpeted. I removed the carpet leaving a pine sub tread underneath. I have red oak treads ready to go that are 1 in. by 12 1/4 in. I have two issues I need some advise on.
- should I glue and nail the new treads onto the subtreads, or would screws work better? I cannot get under the stairs to screw from underneath, and am a bit leery about having to put plugs in the oak to cover up the screw holes. I'm not sure it would look good afterward.
-- if I use glue, what kind is recommended?
- should I leave a small gap between the treads and the risers and side skirt to prevent squeaking?

Thanks everyone,


abracaboom 01-05-2012 11:20 AM

If you add oak on top of the pine, you will be making all of your steps except the last top one taller. Not good.

BigJim 01-05-2012 11:20 AM

How thick are the existing treads? What is the width from front to back are the existing treads, how much over hang on the front edge are the existing treads?

The reason for the questions is you need to be in code so no one will stumble. If your first and last steps are the same rise as the rest of the steps, you can not add to the step height as it will change the first and last step height and not be in code.

You do want the treads tight but you will want glue where wood touches wood.

Hank98 01-05-2012 11:35 AM

So you recommend gluing the new oak tread to the existing pine subtreads? What glue do you recommend? Should I leave a gap between tread and riser to prevent squeaking, and fill the gap with caulk?

woodworkbykirk 01-05-2012 03:47 PM

you should be using construction adhesive for the treads, also use wood glue where the new risers touch the treads, generally i dont use screws for finish stairs, i just us a 16 gauge finish nailer in conjunction with the construction adhesive.. the nails hold everything in place until the glue fully cures

i strongly suggest removing the old treads and risers though so you dont throw off the rise and run of the stairs

Hank98 01-05-2012 05:19 PM

I checked the rise measurements with the new treads on top of the subtreads, and the first tread is 8 1/2 in., the 2nd is 9 in, and all the rest are 7 1/4 in. The treads are all 12 1/4 deep. It seems like the original builder (25 yrs ago) miscalculated the measurement of the first two steps. I think the best I could do would be to remove the 2nd subtread, which would reduce that rise from 9 in., to 8 1/4. So then I would have 8 1/2, 8 1/4, 8, and the rest would be 7 1/4. That seems better than what I have now.

If I put regular wood glue between the tread and the riser (back side of tread), would that keep them from rubbing together and squeaking?



Keith Mathewson 01-05-2012 07:58 PM

Post a pic, looks like this could go from bad to worse.

woodworkbykirk 01-05-2012 08:55 PM

definitely sounds like the original stairbuilder messed up.... id consider getting them rebuilt.

as for glue.. regular wood glue wont stop squeaks liek construction adhesive will.both bond wood to wood but pl premium or lumber lock are much thicker and stop that wood on wood rubbing which causes squeaks... but also the squeaks could be the old treads moving on the old nails which are rubbing

Hank98 01-06-2012 09:23 AM

3 Attachment(s)
Here are some pics. The second step has the biggest rise of 9". I think if I remove the subtread from it, and trim the left side stringer to match, I could reduce that rise down to 8 1/4".

If that works out, do you see any problem with gluing the oak directly on to the subtread? I would really like to avoid removing the stairs and starting over. Not in the budget or time to do that. Attachment 43637

Attachment 43638

Attachment 43640

joecaption 01-06-2012 09:31 AM

Trying to do this your way is not to code and would be one dangerest stairway.
Oak treads are made to be attached directly to the stringers not on top of what's there now. By adding even more height your making things worst.

abracaboom 01-06-2012 12:26 PM

Those stairs should never have passed inspection 25 years ago, but at this point you don't have to rebuild them if you don't want to (I wouldn't want to either). Do your best to get those rises as even as possible, use construction adhesive (wood glue will do nothing if you can't clamp the pieces together). Adhesive alone won't work either, you'll need at least four screws per step, with plugs. Add some screws to the subtreads while you're at it.

BigJim 01-06-2012 12:58 PM

Hank, I am going to wait on Keith to answer this one. Just so you will know Keith knows his stuff here is a picture of just one of many of his stairs.

Attached Thumbnails

Like I said before Keith is a master stair builder. Just an example, I asked him how to cut a wreath block and he went into detail how he does it. Keith also makes his own rail parts such as the volutes which is no picnic.

Just in case you don't know what a wreath block fitting is, this is a picture of one.

In case the picture doesn't post here is the link just scroll down to where you see Wrathed string and handrail .
Wreathed String and Handrail

I was never good enough to make one of solid wood, I always had to heat my wood, bend clamp and laminate then profile.

If Keith don't find the time to help you, (he really is very busy) then I will tell you what to do. You are doing a fantastic job workmanship wise but the specs are way off.

Hank98 01-06-2012 06:47 PM

Thanks for everyone's input.
The second step is the one that is way off from the others, and I can bring it within 1/4 inch of the treads next to it by removing that subtread and trimming the return side skirt to match.
As far as gluing the oak treads onto the subtreads versus directly on the stringers, I thought it would be okay since that is what is done normally when you put the retreads or caps on stairs. As long as the subtreads are secure, then I would think gluing the oak treads directly onto them would be acceptable.
But, since I have never done this before, there is a LOT that I am unsure about and learning as I go. :)

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