Ok, I am desperate and need some help. I have a short stair way that goes from our Mud Room to our Kitchen (7 treads) built during a remodel last year. We had the contractor build it with some pretty simple wood treads and risers. Well, he didn't put in any sort of trim molding on the stairs when they were built and so the joint between the wall and the stair doesn't look very good. We had done a ton of work during this remodel and been out of the house for months so we were ready to get the contractor out and had bigger issues than trying to get him to fix this. Now the time has finally come for me to try and fix these stairs but I can't find any information anywhere on how to install stair trim/molding. I'm open to pulling out the treads and risers, installing the molding and then putting better/nicer treads in to replace these but I'd like to know any secrets or maybe there is something obvious that I am missing to make this easier than tearing up the staircase.
Patrick 12-16-06 11-25-pm
The reason you can not find molding to fit this situation is that there is none! Your contractor hand-built these which is commendable but he did so in such an unusual way that there is no mold designed to fit the space.
Typically, this type of staircase would call for a "box stair" in which treads and risers are routed into side pieces called "stringers." Stringers provide structural support and can be trimmed between the staircase and the wall, typically with quarter-round or shoe molding.
In this case, it looks like the finish work was well done with little or no gaps between the treads/risers and the walls. So, my recommendation would be for you to do nothing with this structurally. I'd suggest you caulk any gaps between the treads and the walls and then carefully paint right up to the edge of the wood. If you would like to have the stair look a bit more "normal" you could also consider "painting" a box beam on the wall where it normally would be. By doing so you could paint this in a faux finish and use a gloss paint that would also be easy to clean scuff marks from.
In one of my early jobs in home improvement, I used to build stair and railings and found that if I made any goofs, I'd make the repair look so good that everyone thought it was supposed to look that way in the first place. I think if you took a shot at painting on a box beam, you'll solve your trim problem and draw a few compliments on your creativity in the process!
Reaching Tom: If you have a home improvement question or comment on this topic, please post it here. For answers to other home improvement questions, please email Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org so your question can be used in future blog entries.