I would have just liked to use the existing wood (and it is wood) that makes up the stairs and not add any false tread and not cut the edges off each stair. But look at the gaps on the sides:
I am amazed and inspired by this blog: http://southernhospitalityblog.com/the-down-dirty-on-the-stair-project/. Here are her stairs (and hers looked just like mine before with all the gaps, and she didn't replace any wood, she just added moulding and painted them):
I found her blog too late! We had already begun our renovation, and it's too late to turn back now!
I am painting the risers white and staining the treads dark espresso brown before we install them. It will be easier this way. I stained the first tread with Minwax Jacobean stain (oil-based).
This is one coat of it.
Here are two coats:
Someone wanted to be in the pic again. I am liking the color of the tread! The tread is not really attached here, it is just sitting there so we know how to size the next riser above it.
Demonstration of how the steps are not square (this is a speed square). My husband is pointing out the gap to the right:
Because the stairs are not square, he had to rig up this template to measure the width of each tread:
If the step were square, he could just measure the width and cut the tread to width. Since the steps are out of square, he must use a template for each step, go and trace the size on the tread, then cut it.
It should be noted that the level must be used on every tread to make sure it's level.
As of today, we have four treads and four risers cut. The measuring is what takes the most amount of time. I will stain the treads after hubby finishes cutting them, and I will paint the risers white when those have been cut.