How to Install Hardwood Stair Treads

Hardwood stair treads for the homeowner who prefers a more colonial look to his home, can be an attractive change from the traditional carpeted staircase. But to accomplish this, you will either need to hire a skilled carpenter or you will need a reliable list of tools, materials, and building instructions to guide you in an installation that will require patience and careful measuring and cutting.

Things You'll Need

  • Brush
  • Vacuum
  • Drill
  • Wood screws
  • Pry bar
  • Wood filler
  • Sandpaper
  • Crosscut saw
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Finishing nails

Step 1 – Choose Stair Tread and Risers

In installing your stair treads you'll need to decide if you'll want pre-built wood stair tread and will match the stain you use on it to match the stain color of your wood floor. Your other choice will be to use wood flooring for your tread. If this is your choice, then you'll want to buy stair nose trim that will match your flooring. Finally, you'll need to decide whether you'll want to paint or stain your stair risers.

Step 2 – Prepare Your Stairs

You'll need to start with bare wood on your stairs. This means removing all carpet, padding, nails, staples, and tack strips. You'll need to fill holes with wood filler, sand the filled holes and wood surfaces, then thoroughly clean from the stairs any debris, dust, or drywall mud remnants. If your stair surface has cracks, splits, or ridges, you'll need to repair them for staining. This will include loose boards that might cause squeaks when they are walked on. If you find loose boards, tighten them with long wood screws that are counter sunk. This will keep their heads below the surface. Finally fill the holes of the counter-sunk screws. When they are dry, sand them.

Step 3 – Replace Stair Nosing

You'll want your stair nosing to look new, so you'll need to cut off the old nosing and replace them. First, measure the undersides of your stair tread in two or three places to determine how deep your noising will need to be. To determine this distance, measure at the top surface of the nosing, then measure from one side of the stair tread to the far side. Each riser will likely vary in height from the height of the others, and if you plan to use stain to finish them, rather than paint, you'll need to use new wood and will need to know how high to cut each piece. You'll need to measure each riser separately. To cut the tread, use a circular saw. Finish the tread ends with a jigsaw. For riser surfaces you plan to paint, you will only need to be sure the surfaces are smooth and even. Install new risers by using finish nails. Sink the nail heads below the riser surface, and fill the holes with wood putty.

Step 4 – Attach the Nosing

When your risers are installed, attach your nosing with finishing nails as you did to install your risers.

Step 5 – Finish

When finished installing your risers and nosing, clean the surface, then stain or paint them. When dry, add a sealer or protective finish.