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Replacing stair carpet with oak treads, any advice?

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Forum topic by Raymer posted 03-20-2019 07:29 PM 1451 views 1 time favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Raymer

92 posts in 415 days


03-20-2019 07:29 PM

When we had this house built 5 years ago, the cost to do the stairs beyond carpet was extremely high. I am wanting to strip the carpet and install oak treads with the wood I have.

Here is what I have:

1. 389bf of 6/4 red oak. These boards are roughly 9.5” wide and 8-12’ long. This wood is already finished as it came out of the local courthouse from a remodel. It is at least 50 years old, likely older, when I stuck my moisture meter to it, it was about 6%. The contractor hooked me up, gave it to me for free and I have it stored in a lumber rack.

2. Tons of wrought iron balusters, which I got from CL along with 30 large polyurethane balusters. Total of 55 solid wrought iron and 22 poly balusters all for $80.

My thinking is since the treads need to be a minimum of 11” deep, I will need to rip them and join each plank to maybe 11.5” deep and cut them to a bit longer than final tread length. Run through jointer and plane down to finished thickness?

I have read that minimum tread thickness should be no less than 1”, but 1.5” is probably too thick?

The bottom couple of treads flare out wide and would be hard to join up as is, at least with my experience. I was thinking I could trace out the current builder grade tread and lay that onto a large enough piece of joined wood and cut it out as one piece with a jigsaw or scrollsaw, then clean it up.

Would appreciate your thoughts and advice.

-- -Measure once, cut twice, cut once more for good measure.


23 replies so far

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

1294 posts in 2285 days


#1 posted 03-20-2019 08:08 PM

That is one heck of a sweet deal on the oak. Are you certain it is really 389 board feet? From the picture I would have guessed 390. Seriously, your plan sounds like a winner. You have plenty of stock to get as fussy as you want with matching grain. You didn’t include a picture of the bottom flared treads. Your idea sounds OK, but if you add a picture someone might offer some alternatives. You mentioned that the wood is already finished. I assume that you will not be trying to keep that old finish in the project.

View Raymer's profile

Raymer

92 posts in 415 days


#2 posted 03-20-2019 08:27 PM



That is one heck of a sweet deal on the oak. Are you certain it is really 389 board feet? From the picture I would have guessed 390. Seriously, your plan sounds like a winner. You have plenty of stock to get as fussy as you want with matching grain. You didn’t include a picture of the bottom flared treads. Your idea sounds OK, but if you add a picture someone might offer some alternatives. You mentioned that the wood is already finished. I assume that you will not be trying to keep that old finish in the project.

- Kazooman

Haha yeah, I measured everyboard as I brought it in and it came out to 389bf and change. I have gone through it meticulously and ensured there were no nails/screws in it. The contractor told me it was all screws and they took them out rather than cutting the boards off with a sawzall or cutoff tool.

I do plan on stripping the wood and refinishing it to match our hardwood floors as close as I can. Although I am not certain of the best order in doing that, finish once installed or preinstall? If I was painting them, I would definitely paint first, install then touch up as needed, but not easy to touch up stain if I mess it up during install.

I will get some pics of the stairs after work and would definitely appreciate advice on this. I am under no delusion of this being a quick weekend project and will take my time to make sure the results are nice. We no longer have kids at home and the only thing upstairs is our home theater, my office and a restroom, so we can get along fine with incomplete stairs for a bit.

Also, was thinking it may not be a bad idea to remove and replace one tread and riser at a time, if that doesn’t present any issues I am unaware of.

-- -Measure once, cut twice, cut once more for good measure.

View BlueRidgeDog's profile

BlueRidgeDog

479 posts in 112 days


#3 posted 03-20-2019 08:34 PM

Are you removing the existing plywood treads and the carpet? Only thing I can add is the height of your first and last step are already sized for plywood and carpet, so you don’t want to go too far away from this size or you change the first step and the last.

View LittleShaver's profile

LittleShaver

515 posts in 952 days


#4 posted 03-20-2019 08:49 PM

I did something similar many years ago. Most of my steps were captured on both sides by walls. That is the project where I learned the value of a sliding story stick. I pre-finished all the treads and had just enough stock to do the project. No margin for error on the cuts. One tread at a time, each measured with a sliding story stick I made out of tongue and groove cutoffs. Slide the stick out to touch the walls, clamp it, then take it to the tread and the saw. Repeat.

-- Sawdust Maker

View Raymer's profile

Raymer

92 posts in 415 days


#5 posted 03-20-2019 08:50 PM



Are you removing the existing plywood treads and the carpet? Only thing I can add is the height of your first and last step are already sized for plywood and carpet, so you don t want to go too far away from this size or you change the first step and the last.

- BlueRidgeDog

Yes sir, that is the plan, take it down to the stringers. I am planning on using my PM 18” bandsaw to cut the same wood into 2 or 3 thinner pieces and plane to thickness to make just enough flooring for the landing.

-- -Measure once, cut twice, cut once more for good measure.

View BlueRidgeDog's profile

BlueRidgeDog

479 posts in 112 days


#6 posted 03-20-2019 08:55 PM

You will want to make a jig to deal with the fact that likely none of your ends will be square:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aL_xOq3h6xY

View Snipes's profile

Snipes

394 posts in 2577 days


#7 posted 03-20-2019 08:57 PM

Good catch kazoo!! I wouldn’t have noticed

-- if it is to be it is up to me

View Snipes's profile

Snipes

394 posts in 2577 days


#8 posted 03-20-2019 09:00 PM

Treads can be as thick as u want, but as blue mentioned sticking with same as what was on there (usually 1 1/8)is easiest.

-- if it is to be it is up to me

View Raymer's profile

Raymer

92 posts in 415 days


#9 posted 03-20-2019 11:39 PM

Appreciate the response guys, here are a few pics of what I am dealing with. I didn’t realize the stair ends wouldn’t be squared off, due to the wall o either side?

-- -Measure once, cut twice, cut once more for good measure.

View BlueRidgeDog's profile

BlueRidgeDog

479 posts in 112 days


#10 posted 03-21-2019 12:37 AM

They will be square in a framing sense, but not in a finish carpentry sense. Most wooden treads are fit exact, so you may have .5 to 1 degree variation that you want to account for as there will be no molding, so a perfect gap free fit is what you are after. The wall boards are in theory parallel, but in practice they won’t be, but the jig I linked to is the simple solution to getting a gapless fit.

View Raymer's profile

Raymer

92 posts in 415 days


#11 posted 03-21-2019 01:26 AM



They will be square in a framing sense, but not in a finish carpentry sense. Most wooden treads are fit exact, so you may have .5 to 1 degree variation that you want to account for as there will be no molding, so a perfect gap free fit is what you are after. The wall boards are in theory parallel, but in practice they won t be, but the jig I linked to is the simple solution to getting a gapless fit.

- BlueRidgeDog

Thank you BlueRidge, I watched it earlier and have it bookmarked. Will probably make that this weekend if I finally finish my dust collection ductwork.

-- -Measure once, cut twice, cut once more for good measure.

View 4wood's profile

4wood

11 posts in 286 days


#12 posted 03-21-2019 03:02 AM

Here are some suggestions for you installation. Download the visual interpretation of the stair code. Your area code may be a little different but, it shows the national code. here is the link.

http://www.precisionstairsystems.com/SMAVisualInterpretationIRC2009ecopy_1__1_.pdf

Make a stair gauge as mentioned above. Here is a link to a photo of the type that I use. Its the third photo in for $99. I would suggest gluing some sandpaper on the swivel part rough side up to act as a lock washer. Also mark the ends that you will be using against the riser so you don’t accidently have it turned around when you get to the new tread to mark it. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=stair+guage&hvadid=77996660811515&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&hvqmt=e&tag=mh0b-20&ref=pd_sl_8iouc5l363_e

Figure the correct rise for each step. find the finished height of your first landing. Measure from the finished height to the finished first floor and divide by the number by the number of risers . It should be 7 3/4” or less. Try to keep all of your treads as close to the height as possible. The visual code will show how much it can vary. Level each tread by using shims or wood screws. I would definitely pre finish with a stain and a floor finish that you can get at a flooring distributer. I would also make an extra tread and riser, maybe two. It is also important to check the moisture reading in the house and the shop and keep the finished treads in the house to acclimate. Install the treads with a good flooring adhesive that is not water based. I use Bostiks Best or Bostiks Pro Cure. In my area I am able to get the Bostiks Best in a caulking type cartridge. A five gallon bucket is around $200.
.

View Jack Rigg's profile

Jack Rigg

29 posts in 101 days


#13 posted 03-21-2019 05:37 AM

I specialize in building stairs, it’s all that I do for a living. If you want, I can get you a detailed, but short, instructional on how to renovate those stairs. Over 33 years now, I can probably give you some excellent advice. The last 7 years have been primarily in renovating existing sets just like yours…

I get a lot more out of this site than what I’m able to give back, so it would be a pleasure to contribute some of the knowledge that I possess in my field of carpentry

-- Jack https://Carterscreekrenovations.Com

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

2244 posts in 3277 days


#14 posted 03-21-2019 06:57 AM

On stair [and other] gauges, I use the telescoping legs from aluminum presentation tripods. I cut them to different lengths so I can use them on items of different widths. They allow me to cut precise pieces of laminate for cabinet interiors and so on.

View Raymer's profile

Raymer

92 posts in 415 days


#15 posted 03-21-2019 01:08 PM



I specialize in building stairs, it s all that I do for a living. If you want, I can get you a detailed, but short, instructional on how to renovate those stairs. Over 33 years now, I can probably give you some excellent advice. The last 7 years have been primarily in renovating existing sets just like yours…

I get a lot more out of this site than what I m able to give back, so it would be a pleasure to contribute some of the knowledge that I possess in my field of carpentry

- Jack Rigg

Jack Rigg thanks for the offer, will gladly take you up on that. I have done lots of framing, general carpentry and building small to large storage buildings etc, bit this will be my first attempt at stairs.

-- -Measure once, cut twice, cut once more for good measure.

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