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Finish stair work - how to best build the substrate?

henrya

Titanium
Joined
Jun 25, 2008
Location
TN
I’m mentally prepping for finish work on my new stairs. By finish, I mean installing the sub treads and risers to then receive the final hardwood surface.

Stringers are 2x12 and sufficient for the job. Rough in 2x4 treads got me past inspection and its time to move on. I’m thinking that 2 layers of Advantech subflooring gets me back to the level of the 2x material. Risers will be 3/4 MDO to paint finish. One side of the stair is open, the other on a wall.

What to do for the treads? 3/4 t&g on the up-stairs floor calls for same thickness of treads to keep the consistent tread height. 3/4 seems thin for the overhang. Do I build the treads with an overhanging bullnose?

Is there an easier or better way to get this done? This is for my shop, so does not require an elaborate scheme, but I’d like it to look workman like.

If anyone has suggestions or examples of a nice shop grade stair I’d sure like to hear or see it.
 
Lowes/HD have pre-made stair treads (pine/oak or whatever you like). For I shop I'd just use those and get it done.
 
Are the treads housed at the wall string?

What to do for the treads? 3/4 t&g on the up-stairs floor calls for same thickness of treads to keep the consistent tread height. 3/4 seems thin for the overhang. Do I build the treads with an overhanging bullnose?

I just do the layout from the top of the treads, which makes the most sense (?) and since the thickness of the tread is below that, i can use any thickness i want. For the top, it depends where things are supposed to end. I sometimes put a short 3" to 4" tread there (1 or 1-1/4" OH + 3/4" riser thickness, 1" back to the framing for a trim or scribe allowance to existing conditions. If the stair will butt the framing i'll do one test fit and scribe the tread and stringers, cut/plane them, and then it goes in to match what exists.
If i want to go over the framing to match the flooring, i can rabbet the underside of the remaining 1" projection of the top tread to leave whatever floor thickness is desired to match. & plane it narrower, if that helps scribe it to the existing floor. I don't glue or screw that top "tread" into the strings so it can be pulled out of the housing joint for ease of working, such as adding the rebate if desired.

Alternately, if it was framed for the space, you can put in a full top tread, but cut the strings back just enough that the tread meets the floor either butting at the vertical header framing, or with a rabbet that overlaps the header as above, to the thickness of the existing finish floor.

smt
 
Treads will not be housed, just neatly butted to the skirt board on the wall. Outside I’m letting hang over with a return. But maybe not - maybe no return on ends - just hang for a little reveal.

I got ya on the top overhang. That is readily doable.

Is the Advantech doubled, glued and screwed for the sub treads a sound idea?

Thanks
 
I would prefer solid wood over layers of ply or anything else if the height is correct. If I read correctly, you then need 3/4 over to match floor height for even risers[double check!] So I guess I would use 3/4 prefab steps and let them create the bullnose[so no overhang on the 2x]
 
I would prefer solid wood over layers of ply or anything else if the height is correct. If I read correctly, you then need 3/4 over to match floor height for even risers[double check!] So I guess I would use 3/4 prefab steps and let them create the bullnose[so no overhang on the 2x]
Yes, you read correctly. So the 1.5” sub treads to keep the height, risers to cover and then finish tread on top with overhang.

This was simpler when I planned the steps and before the framer told me he was professional and had it all under control. Shoulda caught it at the tearout I made them do, but he still didn’t listen for the rework. I see my way to a fix now. Thanks!
 
You are doing the right thing by giving it all a lot of thought.
The "correct" way to do the outside stringer is to have a finish stringer applied over the rough stringer and mitered into the ends of the risers. The treads then have a return molded strip mitered to them to wrap around the end grain. Your chances of doing that well if you haven't done it before are about zero.
How about this for an alternative ? Install the risers first, then install the 1" treads. Screw the lower edge of the risers into the back edge of the treads. The treads should have a bullnose overhang on the front, and a matching bullnose molding routed onto the end grain at the open side. You can put a little cove molding under the overhanging bullnose on the stair run as well as under the bullnose end grain on the open end.( Allow for this in your tread width and length calculation.) With this method you'll be looking at the end grain on the risers, but it's easier than mitering them to a finished stringer.
One final thought, whatever you do with the tread nosing, you have to mimic that with the flooring at the top. Same overhang, same thickness, same molding. Think of the finished floor edge upstairs as your final tread.
You can do a mockup, or a sectional drawing for your last two treads . That way you can verify that the step height is equal.
If you want to read about this stuff, find a vocational school textbook from 50 years ago.
Best of luck to you.
 
Thanks for the thought you put into your answers. (everyone) I think I am going to run the bullnose around the end grain and let it show rather than a separate applied piece. I also thought about letting the riser ends run a bit long and bullnosed, then treads a little longer. I may mock that up to see it. Might be too busy looking.

If anyone has more I’m listening.
 








 
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