Oak stair treads – glue the ends to the skirt board?
I am beginning my stair project (converting carpeted stairs to oak treads and risers) and have removed the old pine skirts and replaced with oak skirts that I finished before installing.
The new oak treads and risers will fit between both of the finished skirt boards (butt up to them on either end).
My questions are:
1) When cutting the treads and risers to fit between the skirts, do I want a really tight fit or should there be a small gap to allow for some movement?
2) Do I use glue on the ends and glue them to the skirt? I will be using PL400 on the stringers and Tightbond glue on the back open grans of the tread where it will meet the riser, if I am to glue the tread and riser ends to the skirt, I’m assuming I would use the Tightbond glue as its open grain.
3) How can I minimize scraping up the newly finished skirt boards in the process?
Thanks for your advice
Leave them loose
You should leave them a little loose, and not glued.
The treads will expand in width with seasonal moisture changes, but very little in length.
I'd try putting masking paper, (the 12 or 16-inch wide stuff with the preattached masking tape), over the skirts. And, then pulling it out after the treads are in place. Try it on a few, and make sure it works, before installing the whole run.
I'd then attach a quarter round or other trim so it is setting on the tread, but nailed to the skirt, to hide any gap.
Thanks for the advice.
I did not think gluing the ends of the treads or risers to the skirt sounded correct. I will try to leave a slight gap between the ends and the skirt and will not use any glue.
i like your idea about the masking paper with built in tape and will give it a try.
I would never leave a gap either on the tread or the riser where it meets the skirtboard.
I also wouldn't apply trim to either joint.
A stair tread jig (which you can make) will copy the distance and the quirks of the opening between the skirtboards. Remember, you will be able to push the skirt out if either the riser or tread is just a bit too long. You might have a good fit on one, only to ruin it or the one below if you're too tight.
I screw the bottom back of the riser to the tread as I work my way up-that joint will never open. You can also pocket screw the back top of the riser below to the tread above (if you have just a bit of room to work or a right angle drill.
How you gonna guarantee that you don't have a squeak in the stairs, because the tread and skirt are moving slightly differently and the tread is rubbing?
IMO if you want a tight-looking fit, make housed stringers. If you don't want to do that, leave a tiny gap (1/32" is enough) and supercarefully apply and wipe a bead of clear sealant to the joints, so it doesn't show as open.
Thanks for the reples.
I was going to use a homemade jig to measure stair treads. I will also plan on shimming the risers up so they meet the bottom of each tread evenly (glue and finish nail in place) than I will also screw the risers into the back of the tread below.
For the tread length, my concern was if the treads fit to tightly against the skirts, there could be movement when stepped on causing squeeks. When using the jig to measure the tread, I may cut to exact measurement, if it seems to tight, I can use a power sander to knock it down so I have a 1/32 clearance between the tread and skirt.
I will follow up with the clear sealent.
Thanks again for the advice.
I would never guarantee that the stairs wouldn't squeek-
I would try my damndest to keep it from happening. I know seasonal movement (even in the length is going to change the fit) will make those stairs move around. Glued (PL adhesive) and screwed to the stringers and risers should cushion those joints, which should keep up/down movement to a minimum if the stringers don't move.
Afterall, what would be worse-that character creak to hear your daughter come in or a totally quiet stair?
Off to walk the dog......................
The problem is, the creak will let his wife hear when HE comes home.
I like working for her anyway.
Maybe building in a creak for the daughters is not a bad idea......
But it sure would annoy me after going thru all this work.
Thanks for the ideas and advice
You don't want gaps of any kind on the ends of the treads or risers - quarter round doesn't bend around the tread nose! What you're doing isn't the ideal way, but it's doable.
If the side stringers are well attached to the wall framing there shouldn't be any movement - I think it's a bad idea to have them nailed, especially if it's through drywall - there is sure to be movement eventually.
As for the length of the risers and treads it's easier said than done - definitely use a stair jig!
You'll also have problems with the skirt boards if you're not careful. If you get a tread and riser to fit perfectly with no gap then put in the next pair very tight it will push the skirt out creating a gap where there wasn't one before on the already installed tread and riser.
I think it's money and time well spent to make up some plywood rips that are temporarily shimed somewhat snuggly where the treads will be to keep the skirt firmly against the wall.
Scratches are exactly why I'd not want to prefinish the skirts, but they are what they are. You will scratch, or at least scuff, them so I hope what you are using is easy to refinish. Along the same lines make sure you presand the treads and risers - you'll have scuffs and marks to sand off, but you don't want to have to sand everything in place.
I wouldn't be caught without a box of good shims if going over existing stringers. I really like the jumbo craft sticks sold at walmart $3/200 or whatever the amount is. They are bone dry maple right at 1/16" thick and 3/4" wide. You should also have some bone dry tapered pine shims - cedar shims are too soft for anything useful and most times they are far from dry.
When you get glue of any kind of the surface of the wood use a small nylon bristle brush and scrub the stuff out of the pores of the oak - you'll go mad trying to sand it down enough. If it's water based keep a bucket of clean water, clean rags and a scrub brush right there and clean it up before it dries. If you get something like construction adhesive on things make sure you have mineral spirits in a spray bottle or ketchup bottle and that same brush to wipe and scrub the stuff out of the pores.
One final question regarding replacing carpeted stairs with new oak treads.
The rough treads under the carpets were 2x10 pine. So the actual tread depth was 9 inches (no overhang)
I am replacing the rough treads with oak and factoring in a 1 inch overhang. This will give me slightly more than 10 inches of depth. (front of bullnose to where tread meets riser)
Given the rough treads were only 9 inches with no overhang, I'm assuming the new treads being a little more than an inch deeper is a good thing, but wanted to double check before I start gluing/screwing them in.
So new tread depth will be a little over 10 inches from bull nose to where tread meets riser. Is this good?
Personally,I go the old school way when building stairs with one or both sides closed. I install risers first, then skirts precut to fit tight to face of risers, then treads.This way you can fit your treads tight without the risk of opening a gap at the riser. Risers are fast and simple because they are covered by skirts. The skirts take a little bit of thought and layout,but the end result is well worth the effort. This method is faster because of no fuss risers,less fuss treads,and results in much tighter joints.
Positively glue theads to stringers;I use polyurathane construction adhesive.I also glue risers to stringers.No need to glue ends. there is a poor bond with end grain and as said by others, it would create a messy situation that will result in a less than acceptable finish on treads.Prefinishing treads works great. After installation, fill holes and apply final coat of poly!