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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
----- Original Message -----
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
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.
I did much the same, but I attached the new risers directly to the new
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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