How to Fix a Stair Tread

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Broken or worn stair treads are a giant safety hazard. Stair treads covered with rubber or vinyl can become cracked or warped due to the environment and temperature. Wooden stair treads can wear down, crack and become slippery. Stair treads can loosen over time and become uneven. Replacing a single stair tread is a difficult task that can sometimes mean disassembling a good part of the stairs. A good alternative repair measure is to install new replacement treads to the entire staircase directly over the existing ones.

Things You'll Need

  • Replacement stair treads
  • Eye protection
  • Nose, mouth protection (optional)
  • Construction nails
  • #110 Epoxy nose caulk (optional)
  • Hand-held circular saw
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Rough sandpaper (optional)
  • Tape measure
  • Straightedge level
  • Angle finder
  • Construction glue
  • Finish nails
  • Fast-drying wood putty
  • Wood stain (match finish on stairs)

Instructions

  • Pull up and remove any existing stair tread covering, such as carpet or vinyl, to expose the underlying tread base. Clean off debris and inspect for damage. Nail down any loose or squeaky areas, and fill cracks or splits with epoxy nose caulk. Allow the caulk to dry completely before proceeding.

  • Using a circular saw, cut away the part of the tread base (bull nose) that extends past the riser. When finished, it should be flush with the riser. Use a chisel to chip off the tread base area closest to the baseboard. Use sandpaper to smooth out rough areas, if necessary.

  • Measure each tread base individually and, if necessary, cut the new tread to size using the circular saw. Pre-made stair treads come in a standard width of 11½ inches that fits most staircases, but you may need to make a few minor adjustments to fit your stairs.

    Use the angle finder to determine whether you need to make any specialty cuts. An angle finder sits on top of a straightedge level and displays the degree of any existing angles.

    Before finishing, set the tread in and check for fit.

  • Apply a good coating of construction glue to the underside of the new stair tread and set in place. Secure with finishing nails.

  • Seal nail holes with wood putty. Once it is dry, stain the putty to match so it matches the finish of the stairs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Replacement stair treads come in a wide variety of styles and finishes. While all are a standard 11½ inches wide, lengths vary greatly to suit your needs.
  • Epoxy caulk is toxic. Consider wearing nose and mouth protection. Keep the area you are working as well ventilated as possible.
  • Be careful when working around power tools. Keep children and pets away from the area you are working in.

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