Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How to Install Stair Tread & Risers

Today we're here to show you Stage 1 of our Refinished Stairwell project.: how to install stair treads and risers.  This stairwell is one of the last pieces of our Master Suite remodel, so we're super excited to get it completed! This stairwell is a pretty large project, so we'll be breaking it down in three parts.

How to Install Stair Treads and Risers

I wish I would have taken some before photos of the stairs before we ripped up the carpet to start the remodel back in October, but the stairs were the last thing on my mind. Of course I got before photos of everything but the stairs.

So, instead I'll share this beautiful shot of me sanding the old, crappy railing that needed a paint job last year. You get the picture, right? These carpeted stairs left much to be desired out of this space.

Staircase Before

When we removed the carpet back in October, Justin noticed that the old treads and risers weren't glued down (like they should have been) which made our lives much easier. So to get started, Justin removed all of the existing treads & risers down to the stair stringers.

How to Install Stairs | Removing Old Treads & Risers

While Justin was doing that, I was prepping the new treads with wood conditioner, stain and poly. This process took a long time with two coats of conditioner, three coats of stain, and three coats of poly. (Don't worry about the snow behind the photo of Justin sanding the tread. This step of the process was done over a month ago, so the snow is long since melted. Whew!)

How to Install Stair Treads & Risers | Prepping the treads Staining Stair Treads
How to Install Treads & Risers | Protecting the Stain

Where we didn't luck out was that all of our risers were different heights and had to be equaled out. Justin researched our city's code for stair height and had to adjust Every. Single. Step.

To adjust the height, Justin cut blocks using scrap wood and attached them to the stringer using subfloor adhesive and finish nails to hold them in place. The height we went with was 7-1/8".

How to Install Stair Treads & Risers | Correcting Riser Height

Justin measured and cut out the notches for the skirt board and attached to the wall using 2" finish nails.

How to Install Stair Treads & Risers | Installing Skirt Board

Starting with the first step, Justin measured the stair set to cut the first risers. Since this needed to wrap all the way around the base step,  he mitered the corners and used wood glue for the mitered edge, subfloor adhesive for the riser & stringer contact, and a brad nailer to secure in place.

Installing Stair Treads & Risers | Cutting Risers
Installing Stair Risers
Installing Stair Treads & Riser | Installing the First Riser

We recommend installing two risers for every one tread. Justin notched out the first riser to fit our skirtboard on the right side as well as the returns on each side. Note: The left and right edges of a tread are a square edge, so to give the edges the finished, rounded look, you'll want to install a return.

How to Install Treads

How to Install a Stair Riser:

Cut your riser to fit your space
Glue the stingers with subfloor adhesive
Put the riser in place
Nail using 2" finish nails

How to Install Stair Risers Step by Step

How to Install a Stair Tread:

Cut the tread to fit your space
Glue the stringer with subfloor adhesive
Put the tread in place
Nail using 2-1/2" finish nails
Pre-drill and screw the riser to the tread from behind (inside the stairs) so there's no gap between the tread & riser. 

Installing Stair Treads Step by Step
Securing Riser to Tread

And here's how they look at the end of this stage. Tomorrow we'll be showing off our newell post and the trim that we're installing around the stairwell.

How to Install Stair Treads & Risers

Want to see all of other remodel projects? Check out our remodel directory.

Linking up to: Make it Pretty Monday, Motivate Me MondayMonday Funday, That DIY Party, Tuesdays at Our Home, Remodelaholic, Time to SparkleWork It Wednesday, Simply Create Thursdays, Sunday Best, Inspire Me Please Creativity Unleashed, The Humble Brag, Friday Flash Blog, Lovely Ladies LinkyWow Us Wednesday,  Making Monday, Before and Afters, Wow Me Wednesday,  Inspiration Gallery,  Feathered Nest Friday,  The Party Bunch, Link it or Lump it,  Frugal Crafty Home Party, It's a Party, Worthwhile Wednesday's, The Makers, Do Tell Tuesdays, Thursday Style


  1. I feel like your posts are written just for me! I've already pulled the carpet off our stairs and started staining the new treads... we're just working out a way to get them level since our wall between the stairs is so short it doesn't allow us to build the stringers up!

    Love how much detail you give :)

  2. I found this in the perfect time, I am planning on redoing my stairs into the basement. They are needing to be pretty-ied up a little bit. Thank you for this detailed tutorial

  3. This looks really good! I love how updated your stairs look without the carpet :)

  4. Hi Kayla! This is a project I have to tackle soon and I am exhausted just thinking about it! About how much total time do you think it took? I need to be mentally prepared :)

    Thanks and AWESOME project, as always! :) Tasha

  5. I don't know where you find the time to get any sleep Kayla! This is looking awesome and is quite the project. Can't wait to see the end result. Thanks for sharing at The Makers!
    Corey @

  6. Love this! Thanks for linking up to Do Tell Tuesday, and loving your inspiration as always!

  7. Hello - I just stumbled on your post when looking for stair skirt DIY tutorials - I just pulled the carpet off my stairs and they look exactly like what yours did - did you have a post for the stair skirt? I think my process will be very similar to yours - I'm trying to decide whether or not to take the existing treads and risers off or just build around them. Any advice?