Please help me fix my stairs!

mxk3 z5b_MI
last month
last modified: last month

Ugh the things I didn't notice when I bought the house...

Anyway, my floors are being refinished in later this fall, including the stairs. What I didn't ask when they were out for the bid is what to do about the stair stringer, or if they will do anything at all -- I think I'm probably just used to visually tuning it out because it looks so bad it slipped my mind. But, I need to figure out how to fix the ugliness and with some guidance, know what to ask them to do and if they'll do it (i.e. what do I need to do vs what can I pay them to do).

Below are pics of what I'm dealing with. These are stairs going down to the basement, and they're visible from the main floor. The main issue is what to do with the stringer. I would like to go with a stained stringer to match the risers and treads.

  • Is this stringer stainable? It looks like cheap wood of some sort, maybe plywood but I'm not sure. If this grade of wood isn't stain-able or won't match the red oak treads/risers, what should I do? Would it be better to just paint it out with the wall color or can I replace the stringer? (relatively easily and inexpensively, that is...a total stair overhaul/rebuild is not in the cards right now)
  • The white moulding is going bye-bye; posted in another thread how I hate that baseboard, can't wait to have it ripped out. I'm not sure whether to put narrower, very plain moulding in its place, or go sans moulding all together and just top the stringer with some sort of cap moulding (? shoe) and have it all stained. Opinions?
  • What sort of "cap" moulding do I need for the stringer -- what is the proper terminology here so I'm not walking around aimlessly in the lumbar yard looking for it. (yes I feel dumb for asking)
  • How to I fix the mess at the bottom of the stairs? The stringer just ends abruptly, it's not carried down to the edge of the doorway.

Appreciate any help you can offer -- the timer is ticking to get all this figured out and I have no idea what to do or where to even start.

This white moulding has a date with the dumpster...

Close-up of stringer. Stainable? How can I cap it off? Does it need a cap on the squared-off top edge?

Cr@p what do I even do here? (click photo to enlarge)

Minor issue at top of stairs, assume they can just stain it along with the floor - ?

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