How to give a carpeted staircase a wood look?

What advice can you give on attaching veneer to treads and risers? The stairs I work on are oak, except for the treads and risers which must be some cheap wood and covered with carpet. Is attaching veneer to all exposed sides the way to go or can I get a better look by attaching a real oak bullnose to the front and then attaching veneer everywhere else? Is there any specific glue to use, how to smooth the edges where two veneer sides meet? I have a 1/2" router, will that be useful for that?
I know some people dont recommend this saying veneer wears out and its slippery etc. but some of my customers want this done to their carpeted staircases to give it a wood look cheaply.
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ississauga said:

I would not recommend using veneer on stair treads. It just wouldn't last. The treads are probably worn to some degree, and rounded at the front, which makes veneering them near impossible.
The existing treads are probably some kind of pine. You can either stain them an Oak color with a good quality stain and hope it looks OK, or replace the treads and risers with real Oak. You could use much cheaper oak plywood or veneer for the risers. Many houses with Oak balusters have stair treads of pine stained to match.
Selling a bad idea to someone just because they say they want it often turns bad on you as the job fails and they blame you for the shoddy workmanship - even though they were forewarned.
If they want quality, they have to pay for it. You're selling yourself short by caving to unrealistic demands.
That's my 2 cents, anyway.
Greg G.
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Take a look a the engineered hardwood floors, such as Mannington. www.mannington.com They have the bullnose fronts and the wood to cover the stairs.
About 8 years ago I covered my with laminate. While not as good as wood, it is better than carpeting. Looks good and is incredibly hard for wear. www.wilsonart.com Ed
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I suggest buying a decent jobsite tablesaw, a stair wizard jig & tell the customers it will be $150.00 per 36" solid oak tread & riser (each full step) on a boxed stairway. Just because a customer wants something done cheap doesn't mean you have to be the one to do it. Take the time & learn how to install them correctly, you do not want someone tripping down a shoddily faced stairway you put in. If someone takes you to court you stand a good chance of losing even if the customer wanted it done wrong, you're the professional.
Good luck, Adam
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----- Original Message -----
Newsgroups: alt.home.repair,rec.woodworking Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2004 5:32 AM Subject: How to give a carpeted staircase a wood look?

I just did this at my house. I have a box stringer L shaped staircase which was covered in carpet, including the stringers. The railing and ballisters were oak fastened to the tops of the carpeted stringers with finishing nails. Not pretty, but easy to remove.
The oak railing was in good condition so after stripping the carpet I removed the railing and set it aside. I then sawzalled off the bulllnose on the existing spruce treads. I bought 1/8"(?)oak veneer plywood to cover the stringers, 1 1/16"" solid laminated oak treads with abull nose on the front edge, and 5/8"oak veneer particle board for the risers. The treads for the winder box I had to make templates for and special order them. It took 3 weeks from the Home Despot. (God I hate that place).
Once I got all the pieces cut to size I stained and finished them with varathane; 5 coats for the treads, 3 for everything else. I glued the stringer covers in place with Lepage Bulldog PL Premium Construction Adhesive. The treads also, but I used 2 -1/2" dowels to set them into the original treads and used counter sunk wood screws to fasten the side of the tread that butts up against the riser. These screws are covered when the oak veneer riser is glued on, again withe the construction adhesive.I started at the bottom of stairs and worked my way up: riser, tread, riser, tread. You get the idea.
I capped the stringer along the wall with 2"x 3/4" oak strip which was routered and ripped from a 8' x 6" x 3/4"solid oak board. Finshed it with 5/8" cove.
The stringer that had the railing was another matter. That stringer rose above the wall cap about 1". So I fastened 2"x 1" spruce strapping to the wall cap to bring it even with the stringer and covered that with 6" x 3/4" board all the way down. The upstairs landing is open at the top of the stairs, no wall, just railing ,so I continued the oak board around the L -shaped opening. These boards served as the base for the ballusters.
.The newels of the stairs I attached to the boards floor using 2 sided wood screws. The ballusters were dowelled in with carpenter's glue into the oak board base and into the railing. The railings were attached to the newels using bolt and plug fasteners by Oxford (Home Despot).
And of course Lepages tinted wood filler to fill in all the gaps and holes.
After starting this project I realized I might have bit off more than I could chew but I pressed ahead regardless of my inexperience (I'm an electrician not a carpenter). It took me all summer, plugged away at it when a had time, made some mistakes but, IMHO, it does look great.
Paul
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Paul wrote:

treads with glue and screws (before installation) then used construction adhesive to glue it down. I screwed the top of each riser to the (existing pine) tread above (and that is covered by the new oak tread/bullnose when it is put on). No screws show, and there are no squeaks after 8 years. An expert I spoke with before starting told me that squeaking is usually from the treads flexing, so I wanted to make the treads/risers as rigid as possible.
My stairs are circular so I had to make the treads by hand and cut them circular with my router and a jig. The bullnose is integral with the tread. All doable if you take your time and work carefully. People tell me it looks like a professional job.
I did use veneer but only for the riser beneath the bottom step because it had to curve 180deg. on the left hand side. If I recall, I used a piece of flexible plywood fit to the existing curved riser, removed it, veneered it and then replaced it.
I would not put veneer on the treads. It might be cheaper in materials, but MUCH more expensive in time, and will probably look like crap when you are done. The pine under my carpet was way too rough and uneven for veneer, and squeaked and moved too much as well. (I live in ississauga too)
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