DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum (
-   Carpentry (
-   -   Trim / Finish Carpentry around stair stringers (

cjdavia 11-11-2011 09:18 PM

Trim / Finish Carpentry around stair stringers
1 Attachment(s)
The wife and I are finishing off part of our basement. We ripped out the smelly carpet from the basement stairs and now want to finish the stairs in wood.

I think I can figure out the rail, newel, ballusters, risers and treads, but I can't wrap my head around how to finish the triangle shape left behind from the stringers and the 1-by wood strips that rest to the outside of the stringer.. As you can see in the picture there are two on the right and one on the left. I want to put some nice molding to finish them off but I've never seen anything like this.

Any suggestions?

Thank you!

woodworkbykirk 11-12-2011 02:08 PM

based on that photo. finishing the stairs is gonna be a major headache.. with the hand rail in place your in for a bunch of crazy cuts and head scratching

cjdavia 11-12-2011 02:24 PM

Well I did remove that ugly 2X4 hand rail and ballusters -- they were just nailed to the outside of the staircase. I want to put something nicer up there later.

I am wondering what I could put over those 2 furring strips on the right (and one on the left) to make it look finished. They run right up to the top of the stair tread. Is there a piece of trim someone can recommend?

And then once I do that I have a bunch of triangles rom the stringer on the left and right that will need to be covered.. and of course there will be a space between them the new trim.... I am trying to avoid having to cut numerous individual triangles so i can get through it faster.

There has to be a better way.. Anyone?


Keith Mathewson 11-13-2011 06:18 PM

Looks like it would be easier to remove everything and start fresh.

cjdavia 11-14-2011 12:53 PM

Ugh. I wish that wasn't the case since those stairs are really very solid and functional.

My gripe is that the stringer was dado'd in a way that makes the treads stick out and up from it -- so there is not a smooth straight surface to put trim.

I am trying to decide whether to:
Remove the rough boards that you see on the left and right and rout out a one-piece finish board to 'cap' the treads (sorta like an upside down stringer) or
Make a bunch of miter cuts with some scrap wood to fill the space and then cap it with a trim piece.

I wish someone out there had a similar experience. I'm looking for something cheap and adequate -- not perfect


Keith Mathewson 11-14-2011 09:11 PM

It isn't the case of not having a similar experience, I believe this has been discussed on both JLC and Contractor Talk in the past year It's that what you propose will be time consuming, not any cheaper and certainly less than perfect. The staircase as built made no provisions for a handrail. Even if you proceed as outlined how do you intend to attach a handrail?.

cjdavia 11-15-2011 07:46 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Thanks so much for your advice. I've been scouring the internet trying to find other ideas but I haven't been able to find much out there.

Here is what I am thinking. I really would appreciate your thoughts. I was going to put a box newel at the bottom of the stairs directly in front of that right-stringer (and double rough trim) you see there. I'll probably replace that double rough trim with a wider, solid piece. I'd attach the post to both the concrete floor and framing for the bottom step. The hand rail would go up directly above that double trim and attach to the inside of the high wall or maybe the underneath (if that is allowed). Ballusters would sit right in that doubletrim space which might be replaced with a solid piece... Do you think this is making any sense here?

Here are some pictures that better show the double rough trim that I am talking about (on the left since we are looking at going down the stairs here). I am wondering if I can cover it with something.

How might I construct the stairs differently to make this easier?

Thank you for your advice,

Keith Mathewson 11-15-2011 09:21 AM

These 2 pictures change things a bit. It appears that you have a set of housed stairs. Typically only stairbuilders built stairs in this manner unless the house is realitively old. I'm not sure why there is a rabbet in each skirt however. The options to rework this stair are different than if it were built using cut carriages. Can you see the underside of the stair? It is unlikely that the stair was built with carpet in mind so if you attempt to add hardwood treads to it the first and last riser heights will be noticeably off.

None of this addresses the handrail. Stairs are designed with the centerline of the handrail in mind. As a basement stair at a time when a handrail most likely was not required no provisions were made to accommodate one. Unless the outside skirt and/or treads are designed to accept one you can only have what will noticeable be a cobbled together result.

cjdavia 11-15-2011 09:40 AM

Thank you for writing back, Keith. Yep, the house was built in '76. Unfortunately I can't get to the underside easily because it is finished off.

If I rip out that nasty piece of pine which they nailed to the top of the stringer, I should have a nice flat place on top of the stringer to put the ballusters. The problem is that the outside edge of the stringer is just about even with the half-wall-celing so when I attach the rail it will have to ride directly against the wall and attach with zero clearance or jog out by an inch or two and continue up. Have you ever seen something like that?

12penny 11-15-2011 09:47 AM

I think you're going to have a hard time with those. They appear to be a utilitarian set of stairs, probably made on site. Typicaly, finish stairs dont use 2x lumber for treads.

May be well worth the money to buy and install a new set rather than spend time and money on what you have.

BigJim 11-15-2011 09:53 AM

Never mind also.

Keith Mathewson 11-15-2011 09:53 AM


Give me a call at 206 six six


Keith Mathewson 11-15-2011 09:57 AM

1 Attachment(s)
here's a pic of what you're after

cjdavia 11-15-2011 10:04 AM

Thanks for your advice. I wrote your number down so you can remove it if you like. I'm stuck on the phone for work but I will give you a call later today if that is ok. Yes that is just what I am after.

12penny 11-15-2011 10:17 AM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:21 PM.

vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1