Stairtread Install

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
I’m in the middle of planning to install new stair treads and I’m at a crossroads about what next.

Previously I removed vinyl flooring from the ground floor and installed 3/4 hardwood flooring. The treads are now off from top to bottom, which I anticipated. I also pulled carpet off of the old stair treads creating a further increase in height from the ground floor to the fist tread.

I bought 1” (actual thickness) stair treads to install. This will make my tread height difference within 1/4” (code is 3/8”) for the ground floor to the first stair tread compared to the rest of the stairs. The landing at the top will be adjusted when I pull up the carpet and replace the underlayment. The current landing consists of 1/2 plywood subfloor followed by 5/8” mdf underlayment. I plan to remove the mdf and replace with plywood of the appropriate thickness once I figure out th rest of the treads.

I’m looking for opinions based on experience from others. I was thinking of leaving the 1/4” difference and placing the treads with glue and pocket hole screws. OR My other thought is to use 1/4” ply (which I know is slightly undersized) glued and screwed to my stringers followed by glueing treads to the 1/4” ply and finish nails on the rear of the tread. Hope that makes sense!

Thoughts?
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Zach,

I rebuilt a staircase last year that had two steps rising over 21 inches! The others were a consistent 8 inches, also too much. Fortunately the treads also had about a 13 inch run so there was room to make a proper stair case. I now have rises of about 7 1/4 inches but there is at least a 1/4 variation between steps. Some is due to re-use of a landing from the original stairs. Some is due to my small errors in cutting the stringers. But I am within the 3/8 code limit you cite. Everybody that walked up the previous stair case had an issue. I got used to them but they were not right. Nobody has an issue with the current staircase.

I think you are also talking about having 1/4 less rise for the bottom step and then consistent rises between stairs. That is also less likely to be noticed than having a change mid-staircase.

I think the 3/8 is well stated and if you stay within that, you will be happy with the staircase. I would not mess with the luan plywood. I don't know how you intend to use pocket hold screws (from beneith?) but I used construction adhesive and a few trim head screws. I filled the holes for the screws with color matched wax after finishing the stairs and the holes are not noticable. I would think the trim head screws would be easier. I used them only when the tread wanted to rock. If it laid flat, I just glued it. The stairs are solid with no detectable movement in the treads.

Jim
 

gritz

Robert
Senior User
I built a new stair about 10 years ago and set both the risers and treads using construction adhesive and pocket hole screws from below except the first tread which has trim head screws.
Very easy to do, and I admire it every time I climb it...still feels as solid as climbing a set of concrete stairs.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I also rabbeted the back edge of each tread to fit into a dado on each riser. I put a little construction adhesive in that joint too. So each tread is glued to the riser at the back and glued to the 3 stringers. I set up a table saw to make a 1/4 dado and then just had to adjust the height depending on whether I was cutting the dado on the riser or the rabbet on the back of the tread.
 

gritz

Robert
Senior User
Zach, Yes there was access from below. I drilled the pocket holes in the pine stringers, pre-drilled the oak treads and risers, used construction adhesive and hardwood screws. Nine screws per tread and 6 per riser, so well over 200. Some required an angled driver. The factory edge of the risers sit on the treads by about 1/8"so it's a tight fit. There was lots of creative clamping try-fitting, shimming and a little cussing. I used a homemade tread gauge to cut the treads so I did not undercut the skirt board...wish I had. There are 13 visible fasteners in the entire assembly, including the 3 in the top nosing. All pieces were pre-coated with LNL-1500 and final coated after assembly. It took a long time...not a production approach.
 
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zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
I’m getting closer to installation and ended up removing all the risers and drilling pocket holes in the risers.

I plan to use urethane adhesive under the treads and then screw through the pocket holes in the front and use trim head screws in the back (both hidden by riser). I will use a right angle adapter that is impact rated with a regular electric drill since I broke the drill-rated angle using a 1 1/4 spade bit.
 
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Skymaster

Jack
Senior User
I’m in the middle of planning to install new stair treads and I’m at a crossroads about what next.

Previously I removed vinyl flooring from the ground floor and installed 3/4 hardwood flooring. The treads are now off from top to bottom, which I anticipated. I also pulled carpet off of the old stair treads creating a further increase in height from the ground floor to the fist tread.

I bought 1” (actual thickness) stair treads to install. This will make my tread height difference within 1/4” (code is 3/8”) for the ground floor to the first stair tread compared to the rest of the stairs. The landing at the top will be adjusted when I pull up the carpet and replace the underlayment. The current landing consists of 1/2 plywood subfloor followed by 5/8” mdf underlayment. I plan to remove the mdf and replace with plywood of the appropriate thickness once I figure out th rest of the treads.

I’m looking for opinions based on experience from others. I was thinking of leaving the 1/4” difference and placing the treads with glue and pocket hole screws. OR My other thought is to use 1/4” ply (which I know is slightly undersized) glued and screwed to my stringers followed by glueing treads to the 1/4” ply and finish nails on the rear of the tread. Hope that makes sense!

Thoughts?
If I understand you; your first step is 1/4 inch higher than then the rest of the steps? If so, run the first tread thru the planer to 3/4. I dont think that 1/4 will be noticed but running thru planer will solve this.
 

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
Jack,

I can see how my choice of words made it seem like that! I hope to clarify.

The difference begins with changing the ground floor to the fist step. If I modify the first step, the height difference would move to the next step. The steps are within 1/16” or less compared to one another. That was why I originally thought to use 1/4” ply under all of the steps—the rise of the steps would then remain the same and I would then modify the landing as well.

In the end I decided 1/4” or less in negligible. I’ll measure it again and repost, but it’s a bit less than 1/4”.


If I understand you; your first step is 1/4 inch higher than then the rest of the steps? If so, run the first tread thru the planer to 3/4. I dont think that 1/4 will be noticed but running thru planer will solve this.
 

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
Finally finished landing and installed treads!

I ended up using 1/4 plywood strips on each stringer attached with construction adhesive and screws. Following that I put the stairtreads in with construction adhesive with screws near the riser and pocket hole screws at the front of the tread.

I will later cut risers to fit and cover up the “riser backer” (the part holding the pocket hole screws). The backers are also glued and screwed—no more squeaky steps!

Edit: ignore my railings and balusters, they’re temporary to keep my adventurous little one off of the stairs. I also have trim work to compete.
 

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