Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day 1 of Retrofitting Stair Tread Project: Epic Failure

I am disappointed in our progress on putting in wooden stair treads. My hubby states that today was not a failure and that instead of calling it a failure, he would say that things "did not go as planned." However, not one of the stair treads has been cut to size. Nor could it be since we have to put a riser at the bottom first, and we never even got to cutting those. We had several mechanical failures, a hardware store run, and we had a steep learning curve. But now we are much more educated about what we need to do.

Here's the before with the carpeting:

Here is why we are replacing the carpet with wood treads:

Our cat threw up on three different stairs. We tried and tried to clean the rug with OxyClean, etc., but we couldn't get that orange color out of the rug.

So we removed the carpet today. Here it is before the carpet padding and tack strips were removed:

Hubby used a metal putty knife to get the carpet padding up:

Then I used a pry bar and a rock hammer to remove the tack strips. The pry bar also removed the nails that were sticking out.

All the padding and tack strips removed!

Here are our new stair treads that we bought at Lowe's. They are red oak. I really like them and think the front edge is really nice. Home Depot does not stock these in their stores here, so Lowe's was the winner! We wanted to look at them in person before we bought them. These are 42" wide, and our stairs are 38" wide, so we will just cut them to fit (easier said than done, I know).

We decided to do a practice run and try to cut the first stair tread to width. This is what took so much time. First we thought the table saw may work:

We never even cut with it because it wouldn't feed smoothly through the saw without slipping around.

We couldn't use the compound miter because it wasn't big enough (we would've needed a sliding miter saw, which we don't have):

Then we came in to do some research online, and we found a video of someone using a skilsaw with a speed square to cut treads. Out to the hardware store we went to buy a large speed square. We clamped this speed square to the tread. The speed square gave a straight edge for hubby to cut the tread with. He attached the speed square with clamps.

The tread is cut to width now, but we have to wait until we cut the first riser before we can know what the tread depth will be. We decided to move on to the interior to cut off the front edges of the treads.

We had to cut off the overhang at the front of each stair so the stair tread could fit squarely over the top of the step. First try: a sabre saw, which broke during the cutting. Hubby fixed it, but then moved on to a different saw to see if it would be faster.

Then he moved on to the skilsaw:

This worked well. Then hubby used a multi-tool to cut the last bit off the front:

Here are the bottom two steps with the edges cut off the front. The top stair in the pic still needs a piece from the top right cut off. But we were tired and quit for today. I don't know how people do a whole stairway in a weekend.


  1. Eek! I just removed my carpet and padding from my steps today and did a trial run of putting a tread over a step to check fit...Dang! My stairs are 3 feet, 5/8 inch and I have 3 ft treads and risers!!! After reading this I don't know if it is worth it to buy the next size up and cut that much off- I also didn't realize that I would have to cut off the front of each step! I think I might just paint them as well now :( Btw, yours look great! Kudos to your hubby and you :)

  2. I am getting ready to do the same project I do just about everything myself.except this time I am hiring a contractor that does nothing but flooring hardwood stairs Tile.13 stair treads risers 2 landings install tile $1,500 labor. it's worth the price