Stair tread replacement

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I removed the carpet from our stairs and there are two treads that are split. I don't have access to the bottom due to a plaster ceiling underneath. The treads are high on the flight so both ends of the tread are encapsulated in a dado in the stringer. I'd like to remove and replace the treads.
Getting the old tread out will be messy but quite possible. I figure to plunge cut into the middle with either a circular saw or a Fien with the right blade. My question is how to get the new tread installed?
Any suggestions? I have a full woodworking shop, so very little is not possible. I've just never worked on a stair case with both sides encapsulated into the stringers before.
Here is a picture of the left and right sides of the stair tread.
http://www.cybertecservices.com/files/imag0110.jpg
http://www.cybertecservices.com/files/imag0111.jpg
Thanks, Bernie
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Remove, add some side supports underneath. Fake it and use a good pl prem / screw and plug.
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Where are the treads split? I can't tell from the pics.
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The tread you can see is the picture is split in the first seam out from the riser. The stair above it has two seams that failed, the second and third out from the tread. This places the failure in the higher tread right in the middle of the tread.
Bernie

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While I would probably opt for the "fix from below method then replaster" method, I'll toss out a few other ideas.
Will you be replacing the carpet (wall to wall) leaving the treads bare, or installing a runner or tread strips?
Replacing the carpet wall to wall opens up options that would be fairly simple since the tread/wall junction doesn't have to match the others.
1 - Remove the old tread 2 - Attach some cleats to the wall below 3 - Glue and screw a new tread to the cleats 4 - Cover with carpet to hide the tread/trim junction, or even carpet the trim.
If you will be leaving the treads bare (or using a runner or carpet strips) then one possibility for a split that far back is to:
1 - * Drill a series of holes into the face on the tread with a long bit 2 - Inject glue into the split 3 - Insert and glue some long hardwood dowels 4 - Rig up a clamping system to hold the split closed 5 - Sand the dowel ends (or plug/putty the holes) to finish the bullnose.
* Obviously the hardest part is drilling straight into the tread while keeping the drill on the same plane as the tread. Maybe some type of jig would help with this part of the process.
Another option might be to:
1 - Remove the old tread 2 - Cross-cut a new tread into 2 sections 3 - Glue and screw a piece of hardwood or plywood to the underside of one section, extending it so it will overlap the cross cut seam. 4 - Insert this section into the dado 5 - Insert the other section into the dado on the other side and slide both pieces towards each other to the close the seam 6 - Glue and screw the second section to the support piece, obviously from the top. 7 - Plug/putty the screw holes and cover with a runner or tread strips.
Obviously the more that the lower support piece extends beyond the seam, the more glue/screws you can use and the stronger it will be.
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.
I agree with the repair option. Figure out a way to push on the edge and put some glue in there. You never said if it's being carpeted again? You didn't find this until you took off the carpet so I'm thinking it's not a big problem.
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...
re: "You didn't find this until you took off the carpet so I'm thinking it's not a big problem."
That may not be so....
I have a couple of creaky treads that I can't get to because they are carpeted on top and plastered from below. I know a problem exists and to me it's kind of a "big problem" because they didn't always creak.
I won't be able to find the *cause* of the problem until I rip the carpet up or remove the plaster, but that doesn't mean it's not a "big problem" now.
We don't know if the OP stairs were sagging, or creaking or what. All we know is that he found the split (i.e. the *cause*) when he removed the carpet. It may have been a big problem for a long time, just not big enough to warrant ripping up the carpet.
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om...
You're not even the op. If he's putting carpet back on them then ripping out some of the treads because of a couple cracks is a waste of time. Stair treads sit on top of risers, they aren't going to fall through because they are cracked lengthwise. And replacing some treads properly means removing the trim first.
And you probably just need a few nails in the right place.
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.com...
re: You're not even the op.
Very astute. What does that have to with anything? All I did was respond to your comment. Is the OP the only allowed to respond? I must have missed that in the rules.
re: If he's putting carpet back on them then ripping out some of the treads because of a couple cracks is a waste of time.
You're not even the OP. How do you what he doing or why he's ripping out the treads?
re: Stair treads sit on top of risers...
The fronts yes, the backs no.
re: ... they aren't going to fall through because they are cracked lengthwise.
Don't be so sure. Multiple lengthwise cracks as described by the OP could easily leave a section of tread supported only at the ends, making it susceptible to cracking front to rear if enough force is applied to weak spot. However, what is more apt to happen is that the sections will begin to warp since there is no longer any opposing forces keeping them flat. See here:
http://www.diynot.com/network/rezarf/albums/626/2083
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The problem has existed for a while, but I couldn't get authorization to remove the carpet. The stairs are not going to be recarpeted, they will get sanded, recoated with poly, and remain bare.
Bernie

I agree with the repair option. Figure out a way to push on the edge and put some glue in there. You never said if it's being carpeted again? You didn't find this until you took off the carpet so I'm thinking it's not a big problem.
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Bernie Hunt wrote:

...
I went and looked at one of the pictures; w/ my dialup the high resolution takes too long to load to look at both but what I notice is the following--
1 -- The skirtboard is a pretty ordinary piece of painted (appears to be) pine; I'd begin by looking at either removing the whole piece whole, do repairs and replace or if that turns out problematical, remove a section and repair it. That will be far easier patch to hide than trying to whack up something in the tread itself.
2 -- the risers aren't oak; therefore they aren't going to match/stain well w/ the tread anyway unless you face them. Ergo, they're also dispensable for access and far easier to repair unobtrusively than the tread.
3 -- still would be helpful to see the actual damage intended to be repaired to get an idea of what actually is to be required. I wouldn't have specific repair plan w/o knowing what it was that was trying to repair.
I am, given 2), wondering what your intended finish is for the risers.
--
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dpb,
Sorry about the size. I took them with my cell phone so the'd be smaller than the 10mb slr.
The risers and stringers are going to be painted.
So see the damage, look at eithe picture and find the glue joint closet to the back riser. That glue joint has failed. The other tread has two failed glue joints. FWIR it's the first and second glue joints nearest to the riser. Either way it's deep into the tread.
You bring up an interesting point. I may be able to bust out the upper riser between the two bad stairs. That might give access to the upper and lower tread for clamping. I would then just have to replace that riser. I'll experiement and see if I can tell if that riser sits ontop of the lower tread. If it does then I may be able to get it out.
Bernie

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Bernie Hunt wrote:

If you do that, please take a well-lit photo of the opened-up step, and post a link back here. At this point, I'm curious what the actual internal construction of the stairs is. I still suspect what you are calling a stringer is just a trim board, and what somebody else called skirting. But if there is no center stringer, I suppose this could be a factory-made prefab staircase or something, and have dado'd stringers. You say the step feels springy in the center, at least with the detached part of the tread. If you tap the center part of the riser, does it ring hollow or solid? A tiny hole drilled in the center of the riser would tell you in seconds if there is a center stringer or not. What year was the house built? How wide are the stairs?
Also, please use your real camera for the pictures. If it is 10 megapixel, there will be a menu to turn the resolution down, or you can do it in your computer as you post it. The better lens and flash compared to a cell phone will make a much better picture.
This long-distance pro-bono consulting is frustrating at times. I'm no expert, but I know if I could see it in person, I could figure it out in a few minutes. The actual experts on here could do it even quicker. A sharp ice pick and thin putty knife, and a hammer, would quickly answer a lot of questions about what is part of what, and how it all fits together. -- aem sends...
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aemeijers wrote:

Almost certainly that is _NOT_ a stringer; it's a skirtboard and isn't anything but cosmetic.
Take it off ...

:) I told ya' I done this before...

Precisely altho you almost certainly don't need to tear much of it up or out; particularly if you're going to paint all that is needed is an access.
I'd still first make sure that it isn't pretty much a no-brainer to remove the skirtboard(s), raise the tread, take it to the jointer and renew the jointing surfaces and reglue then put it back.
At worst you make a new skirt but given the shape the one is in w/ the dings and all, that's no loss.
--
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Bernie Hunt wrote: ...

...
OK, I let it load the images. Even w/ magnification it really doesn't look to me like either end of the tread is housed.
Since the stairs are enclosed on both ends, how could they be unless those are skirtboards installed after the treads were already laid or, if housed into the stringers they treads had to have been inserted from the rear before the ceiling below was finished.
Have you unequivocally proven they really _are_ housed?
--
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dpb wrote:

I don't think they are either, in this case. but staircases like that do exist. Factory made prefabs, sold ready to drop into place. Usually not pretty stairs for upstairs use, but not uncommon in low end houses for basement stairs. Quite common in modulars that are flown in over a basement.
-- aem sends...
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aemeijers wrote: ...

That's clearly not prefab.
--
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Bernie Hunt wrote:

1. Temporarily screw an L-shaped cleat the the riser above the cracked step. If there is a center stringer, you can put a big honking screw in there. Thick metal would be best, but hardwood would work. 2. Invent some clamps out of threaded rod and whatever hardware or fittings you have in your junk box or can buy, to go from the L-shaped cleat to the bullnose at the front of the tread, that can pull tight but not trash the wood. At least 2 rods, but 3 would be better, and something to spread the pressure evenly along the front. 3. Inject glue in the cracks. Tighten the clamps, and leave in place for a day or two. 4. Remove clamps and cleat, putty the screwholes, sand and refinish to suit.
I see nothing urgent about the repair- the cracks are trivial. Personally, I'd probably just add a few nails through drilled pilot holes, and seal the crack with something non-shiny the same color as the wood, and forget about it. Cracks like that are not a safety hazard or anything- the step will hold as much weight as it ever did.
-- aem sends...
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My only concern with glueing in place is getting the joint clean enough for glueing. Currently there is a bunch of carpet pad fuzz and who know what every else in the joint. I'll experiement this weekend and see how clean I can get the joint and if I can figure out a clamping solution. This is still risky because anything less than an excellent glue joint will fail. I don't think there is a center stringer, based on the amount of flex in the issolated loose board in the upper tread.
Bernie

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Bernie Hunt wrote:

Uh, from the pictures, it looks like those things on the side aren't the actual stringers, they are just trim boards that were applied after the walls were plastered. Easy check for that would be tapping a thin putty knife down behind them at the wall surface. They would be a major PITA to remove without destroying them, however. And unless your local stair part specialty dealer has matching trim boards, they would also be a major pain to duplicate. I suppose if you have a woodshop, you could carve out the trim panel on just the damaged steps, and mill a slightly oversize short replacement, and patch it back in and putty it, since the trim looks to be painted.
But having said all that, where are the treads split? Deep in the field, or at the usual location right above the kerf for the riser in front? If the latter, injecting glue, and inserting long screws through the nose of the tread, with dowel plugs to cover, may be enough to save the existing treads with a lot less work. Look on the 'ask this old house' web site. A recent rerun episode on one of the cable channels had a demo of the procedure. Not sure where you would find the stepped drill bit they used- never seen them at the big-box stores, but I have never looked for them. One of the woodworking specialty suppliers probably has them. For a split deep in the field, I'd try injecting glue, and while you press on the front of the tread somehow, insert long 16d finish nails or screws at an angle through the ends of the treads, to try and catch the stringers. How wide are the steps? There should be a stringer up the middle as well, unless they are narrow. Both of these possible cures fall into the 'you can't make it any worse' category.
I'd also ask over on rec.woodworking. Traditional fitted staircases like this count as cabinetry, not carpentry, so they won't chase you away.
Oh, and standard warning about wood staircases being ultra-slippery for kids wearing socks, and grownups with balance problems, applies. When you refinish, make sure to go with a finish that doesn't have a slick surface.
-- aem sends...
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