Repairing Split Wood on Stairs


While primarily functional, stairs or treads can add style, character and elegance to your home. However, they are also subject to significant wear and tear since they serve as the support structure connecting occupants to different floors. Constant scuffing, pounding and loading on wooden treads cause them to split and crack. When stair tread rugs are not enough to cover damage to wooden treads, refinishing, as well as applying glues and fillers are additional restoration options.

Things You'll Need

  • Belt sander
  • Scraper
  • Flat file
  • Power drill
  • Tack cloth
  • Urethane glue
  • Liquid filler/primer
  • Epoxy filler
  • Wood finish product (sealers, stains, etc.)


  • Scrape off the tread’s old finish. Smooth the wood so that visible cracks and scratches are sanded down and removed completely. Use a belt sander to speed up the sanding process and ensure a satin-smooth surface for sealers, varnishes, paint or other wood finishes.

  • Remove all excess wood chips, dust and debris with a tack cloth or vacuum. You can also use rag damped with a mild solvent or mineral spirits.

  • Apply the first coat of finish and wipe off extra stain or varnish to avoid uneven or blotchy results. Wait for it to dry before sanding and applying another coat. Brush on a minimum of three coats for a clean and professional look.

Glue and Epoxy Fillers

  • Start with a liquid wood primer or filler for splits and cracks that cannot be removed with sanding. Cover the damaged areas with primer using a paint or similar fiber brush to ensure that the filler permeates the wood.

  • Inject an expanding urethane glue or apply a high-bonding filler such as epoxy for deeper splits and scratches. Alternatively, inject urethane into splits and cracks, and follow by brushing the areas with liquid filler. When using the heavier epoxy filler, softly press and pat into the cracks with a putty knife.

  • Sand the wood after the filler has completely dried. Remove excess glue or epoxy that may have spilled along edges or adjacent surfaces surrounding the splits and cracks. Shape edges or tight corners using a flat file. Clean the sanded area with your tack cloth or dampened rag, and apply at least three coats of finish.

Tips & Warnings

  • Home improvement expert and author, Don Vandervort recommends repairing a damaged stair tread before replacing it completely. He states, “Depending on how the staircase is built, this can be simple or it can be far too complicated for an amateur to tackle.”
  • Factors such as glued treads and mortised balusters can make repairing jobs complex. Consult a contractor to assess the amount and cost of work required to repair the damage.

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