You know all of those stair tutorials that are a lot of work... lots of scraping and lots of painting. Well, this is a cheater version (little scraping / little painting) that uses wood caps on top of your existing stairs. They are called Retro Treads and mine were unstained red oak from Lowes.
These required very little effort. If it weren't for the landing, I would have been finished in a weekend.
Retro Treads can be found on the internet. Mine were unstained and I stained them a very dark color. I put three coats of stain on each tread two hours apart for curing.
First , I removed all the carpet. That was the hardest part of the project. There were a million staples. I would peel out a corner and then yank. Then, I came back with a heavy duty pliers and pulled out all the staples. I scraped the stairs a little and vacuumed them. I didn't really spend a lot of time on them unless there was a chunk of spackle that would make a bump. A stair cap covers them completely, no worries about how awful they look. Also the floor adhesive is pretty thick and I applied a generous amount so that also allows for some forgiveness here.
I bought prepainted white mdf boards and cut them down for risers. It came out to around $40. My Retro Tread Caps were $23 a piece. They are really long and I cut about 12 inches off each. I do have a landing and I used one Retro Tread and added enough red oak boards behind it to cover the landing. I put them all together with wood glue, clamped them securely. Then, I installed it as one large piece. Hindsight, that one large piece was heavy and hard to handle by myself.
To adhere the caps to the steps, I used heavy duty flooring adhesive in a giant caulk gun and a nail gun to secure them. First, I put on all the risers, DO NOT DO THIS. It works much better to put on the cap and then the riser sits on the back of the step and helps hold it in place. So in the picture above, all those risers were ripped out and mdf breaks when pried. It wasn't a pretty picture... I do believe I had to buy more... sigh...
This was the stain that I used and I love how it came out. I only used part of this can. A little bit went a long way. Every single time I walk up them, I love them. We were talking of moving and my oldest son said, "What! After you made the mudroom and redid the stairs! Are you kidding?" Well, I am sure there will be projects in the next house as well. :)
Here is a picture of the landing. It consists of a Retrotread and then I glued assorted sizes of red oak boards to the far side of it. I was worried that the boards might stain differently than the Retroread but it was a perfect match.
*** UPDATE *** I get a lot of questions on if my wood steps are slippery and if we have trouble with people falling on them. I really think this involves many factors that are individual to your situation. We lived in Florida at the time I put these steps in our house. Since it is almost always hot there, we didn't have a lot of sock-footed traffic on the stairs. I think that socks on stairs can be dangerous, either wood or carpet. Another factor for us, was the fact that only one bedroom was up these stairs. Pretty much only the teenager that was living up there, traveled up those stairs regularly and myself to clean. In addition, to these factors, my kids were older. All of them teenagers. Now in regard to the stairs themselves, I didn't spend a lot of time sanding these treads. I made sure they wouldn't have any super rough spots but I didn't spend hours sanding them ultra smooth. And those glossy super shiny wood floors you see? These stairs are beautiful but the poly that I planned to add, I never did. So maybe a super shiny poly would have made a difference. ***
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45 Questions on This ProjectSee All
- `We have a 100 years old house, and on the stairs there is carpet, but in these days I don't know what kind of glue they put, but we can't pull iit out, is there something that we can put on it so we would have less trouble taking it off ????
- Stacy I just looked them up online at Lowes and the ones I think you used are almost $32 each. Your tutorial made me want to start on my stairs. Did you buy them in the store and is that why yours were less expensive? Big difference from the price you quoted of $23 :/
- Everywhere I've looked , theatre's are $40 - $50 each. Do you have a more inexpensive supplier.
- Transition from stairs to flooring in upstairs hall or bedroom floor? Since you are adding thickness to stair tread, did you use some form of trans it ion strip at top of stairs?
- Gorgeous! What was your reasoning for using the MDF for the risers? Could you have just painted them instead? Thanks for sharing!
- Wow! Amazing! I have floating stairs and want to get rid of the carpet - would this work on them?
- You did a fantastic job. Congratulations. What kind of saw did you use? I have one step that looks like a piece of pie as it is in a curve section. Have any idea how to do that one, could I piece it like you did.?
- I Live in a split level and want to get rid of my carpet on the stairs. I also have a landing but the front door opens on it. any suggestions ? how thick is the wood you put on your landing please? Just love it !
- Kathijkg@gmail.com I love, love your stairs. Ever since I bought my house in 2009 I wanted wood stairs but could not afford a contractor. Your post is exactly what I need except for one thing. My stairs are made of tile so I can't nail down the treads. Do you think that the adhesive you used would be strong enough to hold the Treads without nails?
- Looks fantastic! But let me get this straight. After you placed the caps, do the risers sit on top of the caps or just behind it with the cap pushed up against it? The mdf looks great and so much easier than fixing what's underneath!
- Do the wooden steps make a lot of noise when you use them? I know that carpeting can muffle the sound. Also, do they get scratched up a lot?
- I could 't see on your post. You show some stained and unstained on stairs. You did stain all BEFORE you installed them?
- How thick is the mdf board? I want to avoid having to cut off the existing overhang on my stairs. Most stair risers that I have found are less than 1/2 in thick and my overhang is probably about an inch thick.
- How many retro treads did u end up needing? My stairs look a lot like this and may give this a whirl
- Doing this, did it change the height of your steps because you are adding to the top of the step? My bottom step was going to be high and my too step was shorter
- I have a railing with spindles and a post on my stairs going half way up ( and then it's wall-to-wall after that) How would I work around that part ??
- Your stair project looks great. Did you have to trim off a piece of the tread for the retro tread to fit? I am working with curved edge overhang MDF tread.
- What size was the landing ? I'm having a issue trying with my landing and how I used cover it to stain the wood
- What kind of wood did you use? is it hardwood. What internet did you buy them from? Thank you