best wood for stair treads

Hi, i'm looking to hardwood my stair treads and not sure what type of wood to use. The floors i have are a honey colored birch and i was told, after the fact, the birch is a soft wood and not suitable for stairs. So now i want to do the stairs and match the existing floors. The stairs now are carpet. Any advice on this and on installation wood be appriciated, as my name says, I NONOTHING. Thank You
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My son's house had pine for the stair treads and the wear is noticeable. Of course, it may make a difference since his house was built in 1752 and these are original.
Birch would not be my first choice from scratch but if I wanted to match the rest of the house, I'd go with it and worry about the wear in 25 or 30 years from now. If you are diligent about keeping a coat or three of poly on them, the poly will take the wear before the wood. You can play with other light hardwoods and stains to get what you want. Maple would be a good choice as it is light colored.
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I doubt the wear would be noticed to any extent even in 30 years unless house traffic was incredibly heavy and abusive. While different birch woods have different hardness values, and we don't know which birch was used (honey birch is a stain), it is a decently hard wood...can't find my Janka scale right now, but...should be fine. If the OP is interested in more depth, he can Google "Janka scale" or just "Janka" and see the wood's relative hardness.
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Charlie Self wrote: ...

I agree Charlie and just posted a couple links for the maples and birches from the US Forest products site. Wasn't Janka scale, but serves same purpose.
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I just wanted t clarify that birch is not a soft wood as it was stated. infact some of the hardwoods are much softer than some of the soft woods, butternut, basswood as examples. ross
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On Jan 5, 11:30 am, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Ross Hebeisen) wrote:

Correct. For comparison purposes, paper birch is 970 (Janka), while white ash is 1320, and hard maple and white oak list at 1450. BUT, and keep this in mind, sweet birch is 1470.
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Charlie Self wrote:

Except whoever told OP it was "soft" was pretty clearly talking about the hardness and suitability for stair tread not the origins (although as Charlie notes it isn't necessarily so, either) and I suspect OP had no clue of a "softwood" as opposed to a "soft wood"... :)
--
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On Sat, 5 Jan 2008 07:18:23 -0800 (PST), Charlie Self

I agree. The birches I've used are pretty hard and durable.
When birch is cheaper, I've used lots of it in place of maple,a nd I doubt many can tell the difference.
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I'm curious. If you take the carpeting of the stairs to show the stained birch, are you going to leave the treads open or put a runner down the stairs? It might be the difference in what your looking for. Lou
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Wow! did this "soft" thing open a can. I was hoping to find out the best type of wood to use as stair treads. Plywood is what is under the carpet now and I will be adding a runner, I believe. As to the whole "soft" thing, as stated earlier, I was talking about the hardness and suitability for stair tread not the origins.
Now having read all the posts I can assume that as long as I keep polying every so often and with the runner Birch would not be a bad thing to use.
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birch is not a soft wood, soft wood is conifer which has needles, birch has leaves. ross
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Ross Hebeisen wrote:

While correct, the discussion here is on actual "hardness" of the wood itself, not the classification of the tree.
Actually, common US NE birches are about the same hardness as maples other than soft maple.
See...
http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/TechSheets/HardwoodNA/htmlDocs/betula1.html http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/TechSheets/HardwoodNA/htmlDocs/acersp11.html
--
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Balsa is also considered a hard wood. Southern Yellow Pine, a softwood, is harder than many hard woods.
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Yellow Birch on the Janka Scale has a 1260 hardness rating.
Red Oak, 1290, and is a common wood used in this application.
Hard, Sugar Maple has a 1450 and has a very similar grain to Birch.
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Good suggestion. The two are changed off in cabinetry with some frequency.
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Stair treads have to be thick wood, typically 5/4 lumber or thicker, but you only need 'short' pieces. That means the local wood market has already decided what dried woods are available this year (and they decided at the lumber mill two years ago).
Ask at a millwork shop, or at a good lumber supplier, you might find the affordable options very limited.
If it isn't a match for your floors, finish it to add contrast. Claim, in future years, that this was always your clever plan...
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