SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
Houzz Logo Print
nccmama_gw

stair tread advice

nccmama
14 years ago

I am taking the carpet off of my stairs and putting in hardwood. (Yeay!!!) From what I can tell, there are two ways to go about this, and I would like your opinion on which way to go.

The cheapest and easiest is to use the same wood planks as on the floor and put a stairnose on each step end. The other way is to buy solid oak treads and risers and stain them to match. That way is much more expensive. Is it worth it? I have a carpenter friend who is doing the work for me, and he says to just put in the flooring planks, but will this look bad? We're having a lot of stuff done in the next few weeks, and I need to save as much $$$ as I can. But, I don't want it to look tacky, either. The flooring that we're using is Bruce Summit Hill Plank in the color Saddle (a pecan sort of brown). It's not their best line, but we have had it downstairs in 3 rooms for 5 years and have really liked it. We have 3 kids and pets, and it has held up beautifully. We went with this because of its price, and I really like the look, too. So, I'm not sure if it's wise, either, to put in a really high end, expensive stair when the surrounding floor is lower end. Thoughts?

We are also removing the white painted spindles and replacing with black wrought iron. I don't know if that really factors into the step decision or not. Too many decisions!!!

Comments (19)

  • skypathway
    14 years ago

    If it was my house, I'd prefer the solid oak tread. Have you looked under your carpet? You may have solid oak treads underneat - that's what we found.

    OTOH we've reluctantly decided to keep the carpet on our stairs because when we change the carpet in the upstairs all it will change the height you step from the stairs onto the floor and it doesn't meet the very tight building code in our community. We would have to make some unpleasant section of our hall way floor slowly raise up to meet the code height where the staircase and hallway meet. Hope this is clear. Since I prefer a flat floor we're staying with carpet and within code.

    Sky

  • nccmama
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    Nothing good under the carpet- just plywood. No hidden gems. I guess what I should have said is that I know the solid treads would be the best way to go, but is it a huge mistake to do the other thing? It would save a lot and be much easier, too. There will be wood floors at the top of the stairs, so the transition will be fine.

    Skypathway, thanks for the reply. Too bad it didn't work out for you, if that's what you really wanted. But, carpeted stairs sure do have their merits as well.
    Thanks!

  • Related Discussions

    Need advice re stone stair treads

    Q

    Comments (6)
    Thanks for the advice! I had just pretty much decided on Swenson's Granite, Ginny. They have a 2-inch thick tread that should do the trick. My husband wonders about durability, though. I know solid granite steps will last forever--will the stone treads stay in place for us, and not break?
    ...See More

    Stair tread or plank flooring with trim on stairs

    Q

    Comments (6)
    Tara, I am not a flooring person either but was given the same info by my flooring guy. I just put down a QS oak floor which included three stairs. I think the original treads were pine. My floor guy said not to mess with it that he would stain it to match floor. Well I'm not too crazy about how it turned out. My trim Carpenter said he could cover it with oak but the floor guy said it should have been done before floor was laid. I wish now I would have just replaced them.
    ...See More

    Best primer/paint for wood stair treads

    Q

    Comments (8)
    been paint contracting for 33 years....I will take the old -timers anyday over a fresh-faced kid salesman at benny moore or sherwin.....YOU NEED TO ALWAYS USE AN OIL BASE PRIMER OUTSIDE. ...except for masonry......the oil base freezes the wood and makes it durable.......Yes, i like the v.o.c. laws, but there is no substitute for an oil- based primer.....for a deck I would use oil stain as a primer, not alkyd on walking areas. Its too soft......that old painter was right...good luck with your deck, and listen to us pro's and old timey painters, we've been there.
    ...See More

    Match stair treads to vinyl flooring

    Q

    Comments (13)
    I was referring to the Active Stains, aka chemicals that change the wood color. Fumed turns the wood gray and Smoke turns it brown. You would not want to use their stains which are hardwax oil, so they have a small component of wax and are a bit slippery. Bleach definitely works on White Oak but using it full strength would make it too light. Probably need to try somewhere between 10 or 20 water to 1 bleach, lightly sand to remove the grain raise, then apply a very thinned out stain, maybe DuraSeal Warm Gray mixed with neutral. The negative to all I'm suggesting is that these are products used by professionals and may be hard to acquire, and even then not in small sizes. https://www.ghsproducts.com/rubio-monocoat-creative-effects-fumed/ https://i.pinimg.com/originals/00/4d/b1/004db1c15ef6c01421534e469729c0a8.png
    ...See More
  • chris8796
    14 years ago

    I think it would look OK, but I'd worry about the height difference between the stairs. If you just put wood on top of the existing treads, the bottom step becomes 3/4" taller and the top step is 3/4" shorter. This is would be noticeable and a tripping hazard in my opinion. This wouldn't meet most modern building codes.

    Good luck

  • skypathway
    14 years ago

    chris8796 you explained what my problem is in a way that actually makes sense. LOL

  • aktillery9
    14 years ago

    We actually are the middle of doing this ourselves. We took up the carpet and then bought the treads and stained them to match our other hardwoods. They are pine and were 10.00 a piece at HD. For the risers we purchased luan (sp)? and my dh cut it to fit and we painted it cream. We cut of the end of each stair that was already there so it was flush and now we are going to glue on and nail in the news stairs. We will then use some molding painted cream at the bottom to hide any imperfections and cove stained the same color at the top. We are hiring someone to install our iron spindals and the newel post with the handrail as that would be a bit more difficult.

    Here is a photo of the stairs thus far (without molding yet)....

    {{!gwi}}

  • moonshadow
    14 years ago

    I'm too lazy to retype it all. If you go half way down this thread you'll see my post with photos of how DH and I did our stair treads. I'd do the solid oak treads. Stairs take a beating, keep that in mind. Ours cost ballpark $300 for materials (we did the labor). $11 per tread and riser, so $22 per step, there are 12 steps, plus stain and poly. I have a couple stories involving frenzied 80lb dogs racing up the stairs (I've tried to train them otherwise, but they forget on occasion ;) and bozo delivery guys twisting a leather sofa around, then lifting and slamming it down on those steps. I'd have a couple destroyed steps were they not solid oak (among the hardest of woods). I am really nit picky about wood's appearance and DH, a hobby woodworker, insists on a straight board ;) Short of going up north 2 hours to a mill, the best wood we found of all big box/lumber stores around here was at Lowe's. Even still, we went through the entire stack to get the best quality pieces.

  • myfoursquare
    14 years ago

    We redid our kitchen less than a year ago. We put the plank flooring with the stairnose pieces on three stairs that we have in the kitchen. It was definitely the wrong choice. It wasn't long before all three stairnose pieces had cracks in them just from us walking up and down the stairs on a regular basis. When I contacted Bruce, they said the trim pieces were not covered in the warranty because they believe it is usually the fault of the person who put the flooring in. Our contractor did an excellent job, and I believe the trim pieces are just too flimsy for everyday use. We had to refuse some of the pieces they sent us because they were cracked when they arrived. Eventually when they crack off completely, we are going to have to go the solid stair tread route, which is what we should have done in the first place!

    It really isn't even a good look, I don't know why we did it. Too many other decisions I guess!

  • citymomof3
    14 years ago

    Aktillery - your stairs look beautiful!! We're in the middle of that process as well. We took up our carpet and the treads were already a nice pine with the rounded nose. We'll be staining them and painting the risers white. I hope ours turns out as nice as yours!!!

  • Robbi D.
    14 years ago

    Our stairs are still unfinished after ripping up the carpet and putting down hardwood floors, so I'm very interested in this thread. I don't think we have enough flooring to do the floors in that manner and just assumed we'd buy new solid treads and risers. I'm also looking at changing how the bottom of the stairs finish (I don't like how they were redone in the remodel). I guess I need to go home and measure to see if I have the 3/4" problem! I'm glad to see there are other options out there.

    Thanks for the info....

  • curyly
    14 years ago

    We had carpet over pine treads and risers too. When the carpet went in 1992, we put in oak flooring upstairs and on the stairs. Downstairs was already wood. Since our basement was unfinished, the installer was able to pull out the pine risers and treads from underneath and insert the oak risers and treads. This way the new treads are the same height as the old treads. They were finished afterwards. They have held up well although they are in great need of refinishing now.

  • nccmama
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    Thanks for all the replies. I guess I need to bite the bullet and get the oak treads. I am right in the middle of remodel creep (it all started with the paint!), so I'm having a hard time justifying more expense. The best price that I found online is $37 per tread, and I need 16 of them. But, in the long run, it's probably for the best.

    Now I need to decide between painting the risers white to match the trim that it already on each side of the steps or going with stained oak to match the tread. Pros/cons anyone?

  • chris8796
    14 years ago

    Skypath,

    The distance between every stair (and floors) should be the same. The IRC (Int residental code) allows 3/8" between the greatest rise and the least rise (unit rise in the picture).

    If you add 3/4" wood on the bottom step, the distance between the floor and 1st tread increases by 3/4". If you add 3/4" wood to the top step, the distance between the upstairs floor and top tread decreases by 3/4". So, if the tread spacing was 7", the first step in now 7 3/4" and the top step is now 6 1/4". In this case, the difference between the greatest rise and least rise would be 1 1/2".

    Here is a link that might be useful: more info on stairs and references within.

  • myfoursquare
    14 years ago

    You will be SO much happier with solid oak treads, and they will be sturdy for years and years! I really do understand expense issues. We are a one income (teacher salary) family!

    I don't know if you have looked at the prices of the stair nose pieces that would go with your Bruce flooring, but I just want to mention that in my opinion they were not all that cheap price-wise, compared to the planks for the rest of the flooring. Especially considering how horribly they held up. Ours were a special-order type from Lowe's, so maybe that is one reason the trim pieces were kind of high. I'm thinking each stair nose was around $55, and that would have been long enough to use for two of our stairs. But my main point is, they were a waste of money, no matter what the price was. I would gladly pay $37 for a solid oak tread!

    We did the same as aktillery and used painted luan for the rise. That is the one thing I LOVE about the stairs. We painted them the same color as the kitchen trim and cabinets. That really is my favorite part.

  • nccmama
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    Thanks Chris8796 for the picture explanation. This should only be an issue, though, if one is changing only the stairs and not the landings, right? If I remove the existing carpet from the stairs and the entire second story floor where the stairs take you to, then both the stairs and landing area are being increased by the same amount, I think. Is this correct?

  • chris8796
    14 years ago

    It really depends on what the original builder thought the finished floor would be. The easiest thing to do is measure your steps and see where you are at to start. Since your leaning towards going with treads now, it becomes even more complicated since they are 1" thick (and your flooring is probably 3/4"). Just make sure whoever does the work is familar with stairs and all the requirements. Wood stairs are notoriously slippery to the half-asleep sock wearer, you don't need to make them any more dangerous.

    I think the risers should match the trim whether its painted or stained.

    good luck

  • gardenergwen
    14 years ago

    Question for the DIYers -

    How do you attach the Luann or the new treads? Nails? Glue?

    And I know it's been discussed before but any slippage problems? What about cleaning and durability issues? We're a family with 3 children under 9yrs old so this is always a consideration for us!

    Thanks!

  • skypathway
    14 years ago

    chris8796, thanks for posting that information. My problem is that I have all wood in the main level and the stairs are all oak so there wouldn't be anything added to the treads, but the problem comes in at the top of the steps as you would now step onto new wood floors so the drop between the second floor hall to the first step would be too high. Then the drop from the last step on the main level is too short. I then have a similar problem with the stairs going from the wood floor main level down to the daylight finished basement - again all oak stair case in which the drop from the main floor to the first downstairs step would be too great. Also I'm having the basement flooring changed to engineered wood and the would cause a problem in the last step as you stepped on to the basement floor. It was just easier to keep carpeting. I wish I knew when I was building the house that I wanted all wood stairs and floors, then I wouldn't have this problem now. I also wish I'd realized that they were using all oak - when I had asked for all maple he told me that since we were covering it with carpet not to worry. The other thing is the people doing my floors insist that if I did all wood floors that I had to have at least carpet or safety treads added - not a look I wanted.

  • moonshadow
    14 years ago

    gwen: no slippage here, in fact less. When our stairs had carpet DH was constantly falling up (and slipping down) the stairs, because the carpet on the ends was so slick. He's tall and trim and has long legs and big feet. His size 13 feet extended over the treads by a good 4". He would often take stairs two at a time going up and he'd barely get a running start and sure enough I'd here this "ugg...thud THUD" and I just new he had fallen up the stairs again ;D Kind of miss that sound, haven't heard it since we put in hardwood ;D

    DH glued and nailed with a nail gun run by an air compressor (you can see a photo of it the photos in my link above, looks like a red flying saucer.) The treads and risers were a pretty tight fit to begin with. He cut them that way on purpose, and had to put a little vaseline on the edges so they'd tamp into place better and not damage stringers I had just painted white. He didn't get a mark on the stringers, but he did scratch my suede paint. Suede paint is not an easy touch up. I still need to repaint that wall, thank goodness it's the small one and not the 14' high wall !!