Stairway To Oak - Part 1

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Project by jimmyb posted 04-07-2013 05:00 PM 2457 views 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Stairway To Oak - Part 1
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This is actually a prequel if you will to my Newel Post project. These came first and was posted on my blog.

Took it upon myself to rehab our stairway. Been here over 10 years and the “white” Berber carpeting has taken its toll on the stairs. Between us walking up and down and the cats vomiting on them, it was time to do something.


Retrofit+-01Decided to go with the oak stair treads and white riser you see in so many magazines now. After much research I chose to use a retrofit stair tread. This seemed the easiest to me and I liked the fancier bull nose you get versus just raw oak stair treads. The brand is RetroTread by Commco and I am very pleased with the way in went in. Of course like any projects there is / was a learning curve.


IMAG0356 cut_bullnose_01 cut_bullnose_02The first thing (after tearing out the carpeting) is to cut the old bull nose off the stair treads. Since we had carpeting installed from the beginning the treads were just pine and cut easy. After cutting I then cut 1/8” hardboard (Masonite) and painted it white to cover the old risers. Cut and glue the riser to the face of the old. I had pre-varnished the new treads with 3 coats of polyurethane satin finished. This way I could get a nice finish and could walk on the stairs right away.

Retrofit-02Thought I could just put the tread on the table saw and cut and install … NOT! Because nothing is straight in this world I had to switch to taking measurements, scribing lines and cutting with circular saw. A little tighter fit. You will see black gaps along the treads and risers. This is because no matter how many times I measured I could not get it to fit tight enough. That will all be filled with wood putty and caulk to make a nice finish in the end.twoSteps_03


Once I got the hang of it, things went pretty well. Painting and varnishing took up the most time. Here you see the first four step done.


finshedLanding_02 finshedLanding_01 finshedLanding_03flooring_01The landing presented a different problem. The treads are 5/8” thick which is kind of an odd ball. Size. I had to lay something on the landings and wood flooring was the obvious choice. Standard wood flooring, however, is 3/4” thick, too thick. That cheap laminate is usually 1/4” or so. I finally decide on 3/8” engineered flooring which is a real wood veneer (not vinyl laminate) and does not have that tinny sound when you walk on it. I cut a stair tread to 3” and glued that to the landing. Then laid 1/4” (2/8”) hardboard and then the 3/8” flooring for a total height of 5/8”. Since wood wants to grow and shrink with the environment, you need to leave 1/4” spacing for this around the edges of the flooring. These gaps will be covered with quarter round. Matches great and I think looks great.


finshedLanding_05 finshedLanding_06 finshedLanding_07 finshedLanding_04Here is the finished product for the first set of stairs and two landings. All the gaps have been filled and quarter round painted and installed. All in all not a bad job, but still more to go before it is finished. I think I will use the same wood flooring and do the second floor hall with it.

I will now turn my efforts to building new newel posts to match the treads.

-- Jim, Tinley Park, IL

2 comments so far

View Ken90712's profile


17575 posts in 3329 days

#1 posted 04-07-2013 05:56 PM

Looks great, nice up date on the stairs! Fun project.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 2828 days

#2 posted 06-29-2013 12:53 AM

Nice, I have also taken it upon myself to use these retro-treads. I also have a landing. 100 days later, everything still holding together?

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