The wife want me to remove the carpeted stairs in our home and replace it
with oak stair treads.
She wants to re-carpet the center of the stairs with the oak showing on each
I am wondering if I could use a good quality oak veneer plywood with a solid
The oak will not be walked on with the center carpet.
Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.
Aren't most stair treads 5/4? I'd check to see the thickness of what you
replace, but it seems to me that 3/4 (or 23/32) treads might be less than
satisfactory in the noise department (this is just a gut feeling without
any experience to back it up). Besides, I suspect 5/4 just looks right,
while thinner tuff would look chintzy. I suppose you could make the nose
of the tread 5/4, but I still wonder if the stairs would 'thud' right as
you go down in a hurry.
"Value nothing but truth, compassion, and love"
You _can_ although I personally don't like to do it that way as it only
takes one ding once to screw up the thin ply veneer and it's a bear to
repair. To save cost in such an installation, some use oak only for the
two ends that show and just plain ply or stair tread in the middle.
Note that stair tread is normall thicker than just 3/4" ply so you'll
want to match existing thickness to keep the rise/run the same.
Oak veneer is very thin. Even if not walked upon, any scratches will likely
go through the veneer. If you do not want to go for solid wood, what about
the oak flooring panels (1/4 in x 12 in x 24-36 in) glued to a plywood
backer and the oak bullnose. Seems a lot more effort than solid oak, but
this may depend on how much oak goes for in your location.
First, it's your stairs and you can do what you want.
That said, what about the next owner who may want to remove the carpet?
Although you will often see plywood stairs treads in cheaper homes in areas
with little traffic (steps up to an attic, etc.), it is a cheezy alternative
on the main stairs to my mind.
IME, plywood is simply not the best material for treads over the life of the
In short, and as long as you are going to the trouble of doing it, my bet is
that you will ultimately kick yourself for not using solid wood treads in
the first place ... besides being far less work.
One problem with tearing out the existing treads is that they are
likely 1 1/2" thick and even solid oak treads are usually 5/4 so you
have changed the top and bottom rise. If an inspector a factor you
may not pass and even if he isn't it'll take time to get used to the
This is sometimes done as a less expensive alternative to solid
treads. I don't like plywood on the tread just because it can be
damaged fairly easily although replacing one is not too difficult.
Another method is to glue up some solid 1/2" or 3/4" thick oak to make
the tread ends out of. I suppose you could even use a laminate
flooring but I've never been asked to do that. Don't tear out the
existing treads but apply these to each end of the treads. You
haven't changed the rise at all where the carpet will be.
You might also check with your local lumber yard to see what stair
parts are available. Most stair part manufactures make a solid piece
to do exactly what you are talking about. The piece is normally 1/2"
thick and comes with a nose for just the front or to turn the corner
if one end is exposed.
Don't forget you will also need something for the rise but plywood
might be okay if the carpet will hide the raw edge.
Check page 25 of this pdf.
If the link doen't work just go to coffmanstairs.com and poke around.
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