How to Rebuild a Staircase
LESLIE: Our next caller listens to us on WCTC in New Jersey. Noah is rebuilding a staircase.
Noah, what’s going on?
NOAH: I have an older house from early 1900s and I’m actually redoing the whole house. And what happened was that I wasn’t planning to do the staircase now but I had – one of the spindles broke. It’s actually the second spindle that broke. And then, also, one of the main posts is loose. So I just – unfortunately, I have to go back and now do the staircase. It was not something I was planning to do in the short term.
Now, it’s a hardwood floor and it has bullnose – you know, a bullnose piece at every step.
NOAH: And it has two flats on it. So what I was – also, on the upstairs floor I have three bedrooms that come off of the hallway; all of which I’ve already redone. I have carpeting.
NOAH: But ideally, what I’d like to go with, like a hardwood flooring system that would allow me to overlay the steps and then random the spindles; just build a small wall there or something.
LESLIE: Building your wall so you’re closing in those stairs and then just completely replace the tread?
NOAH: Well, that’s what – what I was going to do is exactly that; is remove the whole banister, build a small wall or something like that.
LESLIE: Because you’re enclosing the staircase, right?
NOAH: Yeah. Well, I’m not going to enclose it all the way to the ceiling but I’m going to enclose it in the sense that it’s not going to have openings like it would with a spindle. And then what I was going to do is take the bullnose that are there now, cut them square, and they’re actually – I don’t know if it was Bruce or one of the other manufacturers that actually had bullnose piece that I could – and then rebuild the stairs using a hardwood flooring system.
TOM: Going in between the walls; the new wall and the old wall.
NOAH: Yeah, exactly. Going in between that and then the bullnose that’s on the stairs now, I would just cut it square so that this way I can use the bullnose that the flooring system manufacturer provides.
TOM: I think that will work but keep in mind, Noah, that the stair tread itself is going to be now slightly thicker than it was before, so you’re going to pick the whole thing up by the thickness of the floor.
NOAH: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: So if it’s a – you know, if it’s one of the thinner prefinished floors, the ones that are like about 3/8-inch thick, perhaps that won’t be so bad. But just – it could cause a problem at the top of the steps because there you’re going to have to find a way to have it be an even transition or you might end up with uneven risers. In other words, everything could be 8 inches and you get to the top and it’s 7-1/4 on the first step. You follow me?
NOAH: Yeah. And what you were suggesting to do was just to replace the tread part and then have the other part be – I’m sorry if I’m not using the right terminology but have the other part be carpeting or something?
TOM: Another option you could do is just to put the hardwood floors on the outside edges and have what looks like a carpet runner in between.
NOAH: Mm-hmm. Oh, I see.
TOM: OK? Either way I think will work. You are going to have more flexibility because you’re putting that second wall next to it, though. You could go end to end and basically rebuild the treads just like you were suggesting.
NOAH: Alright, well thank you very much.
TOM: Thank you very much for calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT.