Need suggestions for attaching hardwood stair treads - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 05-03-2010, 06:22 AM Thread Starter
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Need suggestions for attaching hardwood stair treads

I'd appreciate any suggestions for attaching hardwood treads (5/4 cherry finished out to 1"). I'm concerned about wood movement. I can not access the stairs from underneath. The stairs have 2x10s for treads now because the original owner was going to carpet.

I plan to use a construction adhesive and some finish nails to hold them tight 'till dry... Should I apply the adhesive to the entire board or is there a preferred bead pattern? Anything other than finish nails to attach?

The cherry is not clear so hiding finishing nails won't be a problem...

One last thing, I plan to fit each tread, then stain, finish, and install... What's the preferred method? finish then install or install then finish?

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post #2 of 6 Old 05-03-2010, 10:36 AM
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I glue, nail, fill holes, stain, and clear finish.
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post #3 of 6 Old 05-06-2010, 12:16 PM
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Welcome to the forum

I just finished a Brazillian cherry staircase project that sounds like yours. I had a staircase out of dimensional lumber that was only supposed to be temporary. But the guy who built it used liquid nails everywhere. Half of my time was spent gently prying off the treads and risers, and then scraping away all of the adhesive form the stringers. A multi-tool equipped with a scraper blade did the trick... After the stringers were exposed, I put up a skirtboard on both sides. Next, I made an adjustable fixture to guide me in cutting the treads. Since the treads butt up to skirtboards on both sides, it's not something you can just measure. I used the same fixture for the risers (poplar painted white). I assume you are removing your treads and replacing them with the cherry? If so, watch your finished tread heights. Replacing 2x dimensional lumber with 5/4 cherry will mess up the heights. As for how I did it, I prefinished the treads, risers and skirts. I didn't want to try and paint the risers after they were installed. I like clean lines between paint and stain. I used liquid nails for subflooring everywhere that 2 pieces of wood met. No particular pattern necessary, just use enough to coat the surface. To hold everything while the adhesive dried, I used finish nails, but make sure you predrill the cherry first. Also, make sure you nail the risers to the back of the treads. This goes a long way to a solid feeling tread. My stairs feel like they were built from concrete, nice and solid with no squeaks. CH
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-02-2010, 02:04 PM
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I did something similar with my stairs, only used oak ReadySteps.
Other difference was the stairs are open risers (i.e. no risers, only treads between the stringers). I used PL400 and lots of clamps as these are open treads (no risers, exposed treads above and below).

I fit the ReadySteps using a Collins tread template (great tool!) Before glueing, I used my planer on the treads and/or shimmed as needed to adjust for rise, flat, level, and zero pitch - yes, they were all out by various amounts. Consistent rise and local code is important to observe. Also glued matching nosing on the rear of the treads (used short pipe clamps and fitted battens).
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-19-2010, 04:59 PM
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Use 12d finish nails, driven and set by hand. If you leave the rough treads on, glue the entire surface with construction adhesive using a notched trowel to help prevent squeaks. If you tear off the existing treads still use construction adhesive but on the stringers. Finish after wards, it will be easier to make the nail holes disappear. Finish screws would also be a good option to secure the new treads. Predrill first. They'll pull everything down tight but still allow for some movement.

If you leave the rough treads on be careful, you will create an issue at the top and bottom. The bottom tread will be 1" taller than the rest and the top will be 1" shorter. It may already be that way. If the guy who laid out the stringers did it right he probably laid out for 1" treads which is typical. You'll have to check that out before you start. The rough stringer should have the bottom tread cut 1" shoter than the rest and the top will be 1" taller, if correct. That way when you add the finish treads everything will be the same height. IF the stringers weren't laid out properly, you'll need to do a lot of creative shimming to get everything the right height. Have plenty of assorted thickness stock on hand. If the tread heights are all within an 1/8" of each other you can get by without shimming.

Last edited by rfd8w5; 06-19-2010 at 05:17 PM.
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-20-2010, 09:26 AM
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Just a small tip, If you cut your tread just a little to small by mistake. From the back side drill a hole in the stringer and use a 3" screw to pull the skirt board over tight to the tread. Makes a super tight fit. Good luck
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