Replacing carpeted strairs with hardwood


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Old 05-18-14, 01:15 PM
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Question Replacing carpeted strairs with hardwood

A while ago I posted about redoing my carpeted steps with hardwood and I'm finally getting around to it. Removed all carpet to reveal solid pine risers and particleboard treads. The original plan was to replace the treads with solid oak and paint the risers white. It turns out the staircase is one of those built off-site and installed as a unit. The treads are notched into the side boards which act as both stringers and decorative skirts. Lots of wedges, shims and blocks keep it all close to level and square.

So plan B: Cut the bullnoses off the treads so they're flush with the risers and install the new ones over the old, using small cove moving to cover the resulting piece that will show underneath where they meet the risers. I've finished that step and am in the process of cleaning it all up by scraping off old paint and caulk and filling in gouges, cracks and deep scratches with putty, then sanding it all smooth. I cut the solid oak treads I bought to fit, leaving them about 3/4" oversized on all 3 sides. BTW, the stairs are completely closed in by wall on both sides for the full length.

Question 1: How do I measure the treads to get a nice tight fit? I'd planned to scribe them, but how can I do that on the left and right edges without being able to place the oversized tread in there flat to mark. Can I hold it up at an angle to scribe, or should I make some kind of template?

Question 2: What's the best way to attach the new treads to the old? I was figuring on glue and shooting some finish nails, but will the nails hold in the particleboard. I could always use screws, but that would leave big holes to fill. I'm leaving the oak natural, just finshing with several coats of poly.

Thanks in advance for your help.
Joanne in VA
 
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Old 05-18-14, 02:07 PM
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Joanne, not seeing yours, but normally I just cut the treads in half and pull them out, allowing us to install the new treads on the stringers. I would not leave the particle board at all. There should be stringers on the sides and down the middle, possibly two, but you'll have to verify that.

Measure the tread outline side to side in front and back. If there is a difference, lay a framing square in the opening and see which one is off (could be both), and take that into consideration when making your tread cut.
 
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Old 05-19-14, 03:23 AM
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I would add that if you sand, stain and apply 2 coats of poly to the treads prior to installation it will save you a lot of time. It's quicker/easier to stain/finish the treads on a work bench and doesn't tie up the staircase while you wait for each coat to dry. You still have to apply the final coat after installation.
 
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Old 05-19-14, 05:57 AM
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Use a countersink drill bit and oak plugs to attach with some liquid nails for subfloors on the stringers. You can also pull your own oak plugs out of the scrap treads you have left over. Both the countersink bit and plug puller can be found at you local box or hardware store. Use just a little wood glue to set them in place. Wipe up any glue residue immediately with a wet rag. I also make a jig so that all the holes/plugs are spaced exactly the same.

To ease your measurements left to right, take a plain ruler (1 ft) and touch it in the corner of a tread. Then take your tape measure and measure from the opposite corner to the ruler. Add exactly 12" to your tape measurement for an accurate number. Do the same for the front edge measurement. Use the framing square to see if adjustments are needed. Or, sacrifice an extra tread that you cut 1/8" smaller but totally square. Set it in place and make note of fit/square and transfer adjustments needed to the actual riser to be cut.
 
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Old 05-19-14, 10:06 AM
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Chandler, your suggestion was my original plan. But when I described the stairs to various carpenters I know they all said that since they were built as a unit the treads were part of the structure and the whole thing would fall apart if I removed them. There are no stringers down the middle at all and the thick shims holding the treads level actually sit on top of the risers. The underside is visible since these stairs are parallel to my basement steps. I'll post a pic as soon as I can so you can see what I'm talking about.

And I do plan to apply 2 coats of finish before installation and then a final coat afterwards. Also I've been describing the treads as particleboard, but they're more like MDF, not the coarse stuff. The house is about 25 years old.
 
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Old 05-20-14, 05:49 PM
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I had a bad experience when I replaced carpet by hardwood in stairs : stairs became slippy, specially for women with their nylon stockings.
 
 

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