Week 20: How to Install New Stair Treads

I can hardly believe this day has come and we are completely finished with the task of putting in the new stair treads, but I’m happy to say, it’s DONE!  And wow, what a difference that somewhat little thing makes in the big scheme of this house renovation.  I’ve been staring at those ugly stairs for almost 5 months now and after ripping up the ugly carpet, this is one of the highlight weeks for sure.

Before and After painted pine stairs

Look, look at them now!  You will not recognize the stairs now.  I’m going to do my best to teach you all how we did this.  It’s a high impact,  low cost project that really completes my house.

pine stair treads

We went up to Blue Ridge, GA to a lumber place up there, Appalachian Supply and picked up 12’ long, 1” thick pine stair treads. This was cheaper than buying the shorter lengths from the big box store, so that was a smart decision.


My #1 carpenter dad measured and we cut them all to fit each individual step on my 4 stairways in this split level house.  I can’t believe I have so many stairs, but I hope it gives me exercise and doesn’t kill me in a few years.  We’ll see.  Coming in the foyer, there are 4 stairs up to the living room, dining room, kitchen level.  Up from there to the 3 bedrooms are 7 more stairs.  Then, going down to the den are 6 stairs and from the den down to the garage are 8 stairs.  Wow, that makes me tired just thinking about climbing them all.  So, you can see that covering these ugly stairs was one of the main things on my mind when I bought this house.

After doing the stairs project in my old house in Birmingham, I knew that these should be easy to deal with and my dad and I immediately thought of covering them with painted pine stairs.  I knew it would look good and be cost effective.  I couldn’t afford to get stained oak hardwood stairs put in,  it would have cost a lot more $$.


So, we cut and fit each individual stair tread on all 4 stairways in the house.  Once we got going, it really didn’t take that long.


One tip I have for you is to number EVERY STAIR on the back and label it for which area it goes in.  I used words that I could remember for each one of mine so that once the painting started, I would still be able to know where every stair goes.  That worked like a charm!  I had 4 areas to keep up with.

I did add some wood putty to a few knots on the stairs and then gave them all a nice sanding with my electric sander.  We chose the best side of the lumber to use and didn’t have a lot of knots to deal with.

Valspar Porch & Floor paint Fired Earth

I bought Valspar Porch and Floor paint in Satin, color is Fired Earth, the same color I used on all my interior doors.


Each stair tread was painted with 3 coats of the paint and they were all set aside to dry well.


They actually got to dry for several weeks before we got to the installation process, which is good. I will have to go back and caulk and touch them up, but I’m so glad I painted them before they were installed.

Test Stair

I did a couple of dry test runs with the stairs so I could visualize what they would look like.  I’m in love already!


I bought two 4×8’ sheets of smooth 1/4” hardwood plywood, which I new would be nice and smooth for risers.  It wasn’t necessary to have really thick risers, since we were going over the old wood. I just wanted to cover up the ugly.

Now, keep in mind, the method we are using is probably not the way a professional would do it.  I was told that to do it the right way, we would need to tear out the old stair treads and build them up to be the exact same level that they were in their before state.  I knew that would be a lot more work and my dad certainly didn’t want to do it like that, so I tried them out first by putting the stairs in place right over the old existing stairs and walked up and down to see how they felt.  The only ones that are affected are the bottom stair and the top.  The bottom stair is 1” higher off the floor and the top stair is 1” shorter up to floor level when going up.  The other stairs are the same distance apart like the originals.  After walking on them and getting a feel for the new stairs, I didn’t think it would be uncomfortable at all.  I didn’t notice a big difference at all when I was trying them out, so I feel sure that anyone coming in my house won’t have a problem with them being 1” higher than original on that very first step.

Just wanted to tell you that part in case you have a code to deal with in your state (I’m not sure if we do or not, but oh well).  My stairs are perfectly comfortable for me.

setting up table saw

We got the table saw set up for ripping those sheets of hardwood plywood for our risers.


Here’s one of them all painted and ready to cut. Dad measured each and every riser too for a tight fit so that each of them would be as accurate as possible.

ripping risers

We ripped long strips from the plywood and then cut them down with the miter saw to fit each step riser.

risers cut with miter saw

The miter saw really came in handy and the job went pretty fast.

one quarter inch riser

Here’s my smooth hardwood plywood that I got for risers.  It’s much smoother than regular plywood and cost for 2 sheets was $40.

riser painted

Other side all painted and ready to go.

nail guns

These babies are priceless!  We absolutely could not have done this job without them. If  you are attempting a job like this one, I’d highly recommend getting a nail gun.  I bought a smaller brad nailer to use for the risers, since using 2 or 2 1/2” nails would have been overkill on those 1/4” pieces.  This small brad nailer (from Harbor Freight) was a well-spent $18 and I can use this for many other projects too.

The large bad-boy Hitachi nail gun is the one I got from Lowes earlier in our project and we used it for all the board and batten. We used 2 1/2” nails for the stair treads.  Pa-pow!!  Those nail guns were so fast and made this job a breeze to do.   I helped with cutting the strips for our risers and nailed in all the nails.

My Dad has made the comment a few times (after having a bit of a fit over me wanting to buy a nail gun early on)….”I’m sure glad I talked you into getting that nail gun.”  🙂  Oh, that man!


We fit the risers flush with the top of the stairs and when the stairs went in, it was nice and snug for the most part.  Keep in mind in dealing with older construction, nothing is square and things can be off a bit. So that’s why cutting each one individually is important for a snug fit.  We still had a few cracks which will get filled with caulk and wood putty.

Risers installed

You can see I only painted under the front of the stairs on the backside.  We worked step by step adding the risers first and then adding the stair treads on top.  I used the smaller nail gun, then switched it out for the larger one when the stairs went in.  That part wasn’t bad, just pulled the compressor hose off and switched them.  This job would be SO hard without a nail gun, I can tell you that!


Here you can see how thin the risers are, only 1/4”, but they do the job of covering the ugly, which was my main goal.


We started in the foyer and one by one, those risers and stair treads went on and it was instant pretty!

Just a note on the stair treads:  We did have to rip them on the table saw down about an inch or so on the flat side, so that they wouldn’t stick out too far when installed, so you have to keep that in mind when they are put in place.  I wanted them to hang over about an inch and that is how we finished them.

stairs installed

You can see the small holes the brad nailer leaves and all I’ll have to do is fill these with caulk and touch up with paint.

nail gun holes

Not a big hole at all.


The stair treads won’t have much to touch up either, those nails are countersunk and all I’ll have to do is add a little caulk to those and touch up with paint.

foyer painted pine stairs with white risers

You can see here how nice and finished it looks already and the caulking seams will not be that bad at all.

foyer stairs new pine treads painted

I know that these dark stairs will be a pain to keep clean, so my plan to get a runner is still on.

Here’s the one I will most likely get, a Dash and Albert indoor/outdoor rug in this pretty diamond pattern.  That will soften them and help with the dust.  I could not be more thrilled with how they came out.  Just like I envisioned in my head!

foyer stairs installed & painted

Looking down from living room.  And yes, that trim around the doorway still has to be primed and painted. We still have a little work to do on that door area and then I can finish off the painting.  So many details!


We then moved on to the upstairs (going to the bedrooms) stairway.  Same method, step by step.


We’ll finish off all the baseboards with quarter round painted white and that will be the final touch.


The risers didn’t have to be a perfect fit, once the 1” stairs went into place, it was a great look. Again, covering the ugly was my goal!

new stairs going up

And here they are, no more ugly!  Can I get a big ole’ whoooohooo on that one!?

new pine stairs and board and batten

What a difference the stairs and board and batten make in this house now.

stairs looking to living room

Looking down from upstairs hallway.

stairs down

Next we tackled the stairs going down to the den from the living room.  Same method, one stair at a time. I nailed in the nails and Dad took charge of the measuring and cutting.

stairs to den finished

These stairs are so pretty now, I can hardly believe they are done!  Once I caulk all those seams, they will really look fantastic. And I just thought I was finished with the caulk gun!

looking towards den

Looking down to the den from the living room.  You can see this is where all our crap has ended up, the den.  I’ve got a dumpster coming this week and hope to get all the trash in there and outta here soon!

before garage steps

The last stairway to tackle was the garage.  This one is really ugly, so why not cover it up too?   No need to stop with the other 3, when this one could use a facelift too.

removing top step

Since the top stair was flush with the concrete at the top of the stairs, we did take out the top step.

Dads hands

Dad added about 3/8” plywood underneath so the new stair would then fit in there and would be flush with the top piece of concrete.  I’ll paint out that concrete with my brown porch paint too.

garage risers in progress

We were running low on the riser material, so went ahead and pieced those together on several risers. Once I caulk and touch up the paint, it will be fine. Besides, I’m not nearly as picky in the garage.  We got all the risers on first and then went back and nailed in the stairs.

garage stairs done

And here they are looking SO much prettier!

I hope this explains how we did the new stairs and risers. If you have any questions that I didn’t cover, I’ll be glad to answer.

Again, this is not the way a professional would do it, but it works for me. I’m so happy to have some pretty stairs and once I get my runner on (the upper stairs, not the garage), they will all look so great.  This was a cost effective way to get stairs.  If I had bought oak hardwood stairs, they would have cost a bundle.  This was a perfect solution for my house and I’m thrilled with them.

Here’s the cost breakdown on what I spent for all the stairs:

Seven 12’ pine stair treads – $160

Two sheets 4×8 smooth hardwood plywood (1/4”) – $40

1 Gallon porch and floor paint – $35

Small brad nailer – $18

Since I already had the big nail gun, I won’t count that on this project.

For just over $250, I’d say this is one big bang for the buck, wouldn’t you??

Do you have stairs that need an overhaul?  Is this project something you would consider doing?  You just might tear off the old carpet on your stairs and already have pine risers underneath, many people do.

Go ahead, go peek and see what’s under your carpeted stairs!

{P.S. I’m still trying to figure out my truncated feed situation to add a pic and text to my feeds.   No luck getting it right yet, so it’s still on full feed right now. }

Linking up to Beth’s Tutorials and Tips Link Party!

- Rhoda


  1. Love the stairs! So beautiful…love the color choice! Thanks for sharing.

  2. What an incredible transformation!! And I heart your dad and his hard work. He is awesome!!

  3. It’s official. I think we need to petition TLC to give you and your sweet Daddy a DIY show. His comment about the nail gun was too cute and I can just see him saying that. 🙂

    It is just beautiful and it all flows together so seamlessly like a well-thought out plan. Even if you’re winging it, just look them in the eye and say you had a plan. 😉

    Love following along on your journey. xxoo

  4. I’ll give you a big woohoo! I love to see the projects you and your dad work on Rhoda! 🙂

    the stairs look fabulous.

    I like the full feed… I’ll be sad when you truncate.


  5. Beth Morrow says:

    Beautiful job and gorgeous look! Well done!
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Almost wish I had steps to refinish. Looks terrific. Enjoy watching you work with your Daddy. I miss mine every day. He taught me to do electrical work and I still use it.

  7. Love that your Dad is helping…you’ll need to buy another house after this! 🙂

  8. Rhoda,
    Your steps look so great! Wow!
    I know you are sooo glad to have those finished.
    I am so in love with your daddy! I just want to squeeze him!
    What precious memories you have with him.
    Will tell you this Ky girl thinks he’s the BEST!!!

  9. It looks great! What a wonderful father you have as well.

  10. Looks awesome. Can hardly wait to see your furniture and smalls in place! Job well done.

  11. Rhoda, the stairs look gorgeous. Can you post a picture of your railing for the first set of stairs pictured. I am trying to explain the flat top to my husband but I want to show him the side view. Have the stairs been a pain to keep looking clean?

    • HI, Jill, you can see the railing in a couple of the pics of the stairs, maybe you can show him that. It’s just a plain wood railing that is sort of rounded on the top.

      Are you kidding? The house isn’t even clean yet, so there is dust and dirt everywhere! I’ll be so glad to get everything cleaned up when we are finished and do a final cleaning of every single surface in the house. The stairs will show every speck of dust and dirt and that’s why I’m putting in a runner.

  12. This looks soooo great! What a drastic improvement. Would look amazing with the carpet runner you showed the image of.

  13. You and your Dad get one huge whoooohoo! What a fantastic job! It’s beautiful. And I think it’s great you did your stairs to the garage too. It’s where you will probably come in and out all the time so it should look pretty. What a sweetie pie your Dad is…even though this is hard work for him I bet he is loving being able to help you out. That’s what Dads do.

  14. Rhoda, the stairs look amazing. You and your dad are quite the team. I know you are getting excited that you are on the tail end of things. Everything looks gorgeous. Hugs. Marty

  15. Great job your dad did! Thanks for posting this, I want to do this with our stairs. Wasn’t sure where to start. Your post of this project really helps.

  16. Your stairs look amazing! I am so enjoying keeping up with your home progress. I know it will be magazine-worthy once it’s all done!

  17. Rhoda: I have enjoyed every post on your house rennovation, the stairs being no exception. I can’t wait to see when you move in and get everything in place. It’s going to look great!

  18. Whoooooo-hoooooo!

  19. WOW!! What a major transformation. I hate carpet on stairs as well. That is why we removed ours last year and replaced with oak treads. And, yes, it is ugly under that carpet. It is costly, but such a difference. I know you will enjoy yours!

  20. Patty Lucas says:

    Your stairs are absolutely BEAUTIFUL. You have shamed me into sanding mine and staining them darker and painting the risers. They are the first thing you see when you come in and I want them to look as good as yours. Currently I have a salt glazed crock on each stair and hope to put them back.

    • Patty, that sounds great! I considered staining these too, but I knew that pine is hard to get really dark, so I didn’t want them splotchy looking. Paint seemed to be my best alternative and I do love them.

  21. Whoo hoo is right! Looking fantastic. I am getting so excited for you I can barely wait till move in date!!!!

  22. Whooo Hooo! Looks great Rhoda:)

  23. Amazing!!! I am SO doing that! Thanks for the tutorial.
    <3 Maggie

  24. Oh, and I might have to borrow your Daddy! I sure do miss mine.

  25. I can’t get over how great it looks, especially the garage ones. I’ve used the prefab ones from Lowes, but we did have to cut back a lip off each of the stairs, which was a mess and a pain. It looks like you may not have had to do that, which is great.

    Now I want to go rip out my carpet on my own stairs and copy you!

  26. Gorgeous stairs! You and your dad make a great team Ü

  27. Elizabeth H says:

    Just perfect. As always a job well done. You and your Dad make a great team, of course with your Mom too.

  28. I love the finished look. I recently finished redoing my stairs after pulling up the carpet. I didn’t realize that I could just set the new tread on top of the old wood. My old wood treads jut out about an inch from the riser, but yours don’t seem to; do you think I would have to cut them down to place risers on top? Mine just don’t look as polished as yours.

    • Jenni, your stairs look great too! Much better than carpet any day, I know you love the new look. I was lucky that my old stairs didn’t have a jut out, so the new stairs went on really nice. Yes, if your stairs jut out, you would have to cut them back to get a riser in place.

  29. WOW! JUST WOW! Great job!

  30. Rhoda
    This looks amazing with your new floors! You and your Dad have done a great job! I love it.

  31. Just beautiful, what a joy to have your dad working besides you. What a team you make. Di

  32. Your stairs look amazing! I can’t even imagine how much work they were, but it was definitely well worth it!

  33. Carolee in Kansas says:

    Rhoda – I have watched your house transformation every week and I so admire your vision and your hard work. You’re so very lucky to still have your Daddy. Mine has been gone for 5 years now. I truly can’t wait to see your furniture and decorating starting in your new home. You are an amazing inspiration to all of us!!!

  34. STUNNING!!!!
    The whole job is beautiful, but ohhhhh the stairs are like I said simply stunning.

  35. They look amazing! You and your carpenter daddy did an excellent job! 🙂

  36. Hi Rhoda –
    With each new post showing how you are transforming your house – I get more and more excited for you. Everything you have done looks fabulous. It is so exciting to watch. I am thrilled for you. I think after you are done, your dad could start a business – best contractor ever. 🙂 I think he would be one busy guy.

  37. Woo-hoo! The stairs look amazing!

  38. Oh wow!!! What a huge difference it makes from the old stair treads. I especially enjoyed this project on your house. You are getting closer to completion and all this hard work will have been worth it, once you get to the furnishings stage (yes the day will come)!!! Your daddy is so adorable 🙂

  39. Getting the lumber from a lumber store was the best thing you could have done since their wood is far superior to big box stores lumber. The stairs looks fantastic!!!!!

  40. What a transformation!! I so enjoy your blog Rhoda. Thanks for sharing!

  41. Connie McCallum says:

    Those stairs look SO GOOD!! Great tutorial. I must agree about the nail gun they make everything so much easier. House is really coming along.

  42. LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing your dad help you with your home! You can see in his face his love and devotion! Warms my heart this morning.

  43. Rhoda, Love, love the stairs and again, you and your chief carpenter did a great job. Great choice on the runner,Hope Dash and Albert send you that for free, can’t get better advertising for your great idea of using it as a stair runner. I look forward to your weekly reports and can’t wait for them when you start the fluffing.

    I have seen directions on other blogs to only give part of the post, otherwise you lose traffic if people read it directly from the email. I don’t follow because I check your blog everyday anyway. Mary

  44. Gooooood job! You could get a gig on This Old House…your plans are more clear!

  45. I just love to read about all your updates! Your stairs truly look amazing…what a difference. You are so fortunate to have your Dad and Mom helping you on the house. Cannot wait to see more! It’s looking fantastic! 😉

  46. Rhoda, Your new stairs look amazing….Wow, what a transformation…Your home is going to look gorgeous….So happy for you….I was so excited to get on your blog when I got up this morning…You never disappoint, with the transformations….Have a great week, Rhoda….

  47. I am anxiously awaiting the finished prolduct. When’s move-in day? Can’t wait to see it all done and put together!

  48. Rhoda~What a beautiful job you did on the stairs! And you made it sound almost easy peasy! We’re planning on doing our stairs sometime this year and seeing your outcome makes me excited to start! Thanks for sharing. They’re beautiful! ~Linda

  49. What a great job! Congratulations, this is so exciting to watch unfold. Your home is beautiful, I’m very happy for you.

  50. Congratulations on the finished product it looks brilliant. I am going to get my husband to have a good read of this article so he can do ours! Will have to sweet talk him first though 😉

  51. Lou Ann Bremers says:

    Great job and the result was beautiful. Looking at the post redo pics I was wondering about the ugliness of the former treatment. Did the treads not have the curved edge of the ones you installed? I was looking for reasons why the old ones couldn’t be painted so they look like the new ones. I’m feeling stupid as I can’t tell what they looked like before. I’m guessing that they had covered them completely with carpeting and they looked rough underneath the carpet.

  52. Definitely – you and your dad deserve not only a BIG – WHOOOHOO! But a great big Hoot and Hollar too! Terrific transformation and fabulous tutorial! Yes – you are a “do it yourselfer” and a great one. That’s what it’s all about…doing it your way and pulling off the look you want. You make it work as a DIYer – you definitely do! And do you really think someone coming in your house is going to down to eye level and notice these are pine vs. oak, etc. Nope – they will not…they will simply go “Awe – how beautiful is this fixer upper house of yours” and be envious just like we are when we walk through all the homes we enjoy (i.e. SL Idea house, etc.). Imagine, if we are going gaga over these stairs…then we are going to be falling over ourselves and speechless when the package is complete! Job very well done Rhoda! Our love to your entire family for we know it’s taken a village!

  53. Stunning Rhoda! Your house will be a true labor of love…that’s what I’m enjoying the most about following along with the remodel.

  54. You guys are SO good! The stairs look like a million dollars.

  55. My daughter’s entry stairs were dark wood, so I suggested she paint just the risers white, leaving the treads dark. What an amazing difference it made. Your stairs look great.

  56. I did not know your house was a split level! I have one and it presents MANY design and decor conundrums and there are not many blogs out there that address this style of home. I’m really excited to see what you do with it!

  57. You guys are doing an AMAZING job! That might not be the way the professionals would do it — but it sure does look professional! Here’s that great big WHOO HOOOOO for ya! Great post, too. You make it real easy for someone to be able to replicate your project. Love your house and your blog!

  58. They turned out beautiful and I love the non-professional way you did them. My husband and I have actually thought about doing this same thing. Our carpet is holding us back though. We have carpet at the top of the stairs and I don’t know how to transition it at the top landing. Any suggestions?

  59. In a word, STUNNING!! This once-sad house is slowly turning into a lovely one-of-a-kind home with your great visions and the loving hands of your Daddy and you working SO hard! And let’s not for get your Mom’s wonderful contributions, too. Your home will be so happy and warm, full of wonderful memories making it your own! I just love following along…thank you for sharing!

    And I can’t help but wonder what the previous owners would think…this house is metamorphosing into a BEAUTIFUL HOME! And it’s yours! 🙂
    Keep up the great work!
    Susan A

  60. Ah Rhoda. This is all so wonderful. You and your parents are an inspiration to us all, and in so many ways. Your home will be beautiful, and the love that made it all come together will make it a place of peace and happiness for you.

    Have been following you for a while; it was just time to comment. <3

  61. Rhoda…you sure did get a bang for your buck…and your dad…he is incredible…I am sure you are so thrilled that he is working with you side by side on your home…means so much more. Oh the memories you will have to treasure forever!….Love those stairs…!

  62. Rhoda, I am so enjoying the transformation of your home. It is looking so wonderful on each post. I love seeing your father create his magic–he is so talented and how wonderful he is so healthy to help you. And I imagine it is helpful for him to be busy and see that he is doing so much for you–you are doing so much for each other. Can’t wait to see what is next…

  63. Lookin’ good! I love every single renovation post…!! Your Daddy is having a blast, I am sure! The stairs look fabulous! One more day closer to The End of the renovation story… It may not be the “House That Built You.” But you sure built it! Way to go girl!
    ~Nancy from OHIO

  64. Rhoda-You and your Dad and Mom are doing a wonderful job on your new home. I know it is alot of hard work, but when it is finished you will love it even more for all the work and love that is making it a true home. I follow your blog but usually don’t comment but can’t read about all this hard work without encouraging you. Y’all are doing a great job! I can’t wait to see it when all the pretties are put in place!

  65. Renee Blair says:

    Your stairs are fantastic. I am not usually a board and batten fan but yours looks fabulous and I can’t wait to see the final home. I love green too. Your dad is so wonderful to help you and I know you are really enjoying most of it, :).LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the stairs.

  66. Ok Once again your Dad rocks. Now on to the stairs, they look gorgeous. I love it, I want to do mine and now that I know you can buy the treads and cut them down onward and forward. Thanks for sharing.

  67. Cindy O'Brien says:

    Oh Rhoda, it’s so beautiful!! I am so very happy for you. Got to say I find myself praying for strength for you and your mom and dad. Wow, you’ve all done so much work, look at the results! BTW I think I may try the stair treatment myself.

  68. Looks amazing Rhoda! It’s really coming along beautifully!

  69. Rhoda, your home is looking great! Your number one carpenter is amazing! I think we’re all standing in line for your parents! They are wonderful! Your home is coming together beautifully! The stairs are fantastic!

  70. I am also lucky to have a carpenter dad and a set of basement stair in desperate need of some style. I think your idea fits the bill PERFECTLY!!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  71. They are truly beautiful and now I will have to go check under my carpeted stairs! I love the color you chose as much as I loved stained wood and that gives me much to think about. Thank you for the tutorial…and adding another project to my list ! 🙂

  72. I’m so enjoying watching you transform you house into a beautiful home and can’t wait to see the final reveal. It’s going to be gorgeous!

  73. Rhoda they look awesome! Wow…you were right about a big impact…love them! You’ll have to tell me where you get a runner. I’ve always wanted to do a runner down my stairs but could never find one that didn’t cost a small fortune. Can’t wait to see what you choose for that. Everything is coming together beautifully! Your Dad is amazing! So inspiring to see him so active…know he is loving all this! 🙂

  74. Rhoda, Absolutely stunning results, as usual! And that’s so “you” to go ahead and do the steps down to the garage. 😉 I would have done that, too! After all, you’ll have to see them almost as often as you see the other stairs in your house, so why not? Loved seeing you at the Earthborn event … always a pleasure.

  75. Beautiful work on the stairs – and yes great bang for your buck. It’s clear the big cost would have been labor!

  76. Looks awesome! When can you come do my stairs? lol

  77. I am enjoying watching your whole house transformation but I REALLY LOVE this one! I want to do this so bad but keeping backing out…guess I need to rip out the carpet and then I’ll have to! Your dad is a treasure….better give him lots of hugs 🙂 Thanks for taking us along on your home adventure.

  78. Ruby McCowan says:

    Your home is looking lovely! It’s been such fun watching the progress. And what a dear your Dad is!

  79. Thanks Rhoda for this post, this is exactly what I want to do with our stairs! Just emailed my husband, the carpenter, the link 🙂

    The only thing we have to be concerned about — are the stairs still to code after adding the board? Did you have an issue with that?

    Big shout-out to your dad and you!

    • Hi, Dagmar, I’ll admit I didn’t do a lot of research on the codes here in my state. I just checked it out & looks like there is some leeway on the bottom and top steps, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be OK with mine. I don’t plan to sell, so if it comes up at a later date, I’ll have to deal with it then. In the meantime, they are completely comfortable for me to walk on, I don’t see a problem at all.

  80. Love the stair transformation! And love that you and your dad worked on it together.

    I have been wanting to purchase a brad nailer for a while too, but after I read what a good price you got for the brad nailer at H/F – I think I’m going to have to pay them a visit locally and pick one up for myself.

    My dad is also a very handy carpenter and has helped with a lot of our big projects at home. We removed the carpeting on our stairs last year and he installed new treads and risers for us.

    It is amazing how much of a difference a change like that makes!

    Looking forward to seeing you at SBC in Raleigh next month. 🙂


  81. FANTASTIC!! i want to tackle the stairs in my house but i’m not brave enough yet. your house is looking wonderful!

  82. Hi Rhoda. I was follower before the cha nge in Blogger and somehow I didn’t sign up to receive your posts via email. I realized that I was not seeing your posts but I kept forgetting to fix it. It might have been for the best, I lost my dad last Oct. and I don’t think I could have read about how your dad is helping you on this fabulous journey you are on.
    But the timing was right this week and after signing up for your feed I read all of your posts on the new house and a bunch of others as well.

    I love your new house and I have enjoyed every moment of reading your progress and how your wonderful parents are helping you. I learned a lot of what I know about home renovations and gardening from my dad but the only time we ever worked together on a project was just a few months before his death and it was a special time together. It is great to read about how you are working with your dad, I got a big kick out of the mail box post.

    I can hardly wait to see your bedroom wall treatment, the kitchen hardware and the rustic shelves. It is good to hear that all of the companies you are working with have helped with items for your new home.

    I am looking forward to your future posts now that I will not miss anymore.

    Thanks for sharing,

  83. Oh my lord, do I need your father to come and visit our house! haha What a beautiful job you two have done! We also removed the carpet from our split entry staircase and were left with building grade plywood stairs – not a good thing. Not having the expertise, tools, or your DAD, we opted for an inferior method to yours, but it still ended up looking a LOT better than the hideous threadbare carpet that had been on the stairs! Here’s a link to my 2009 post if you’d like to see it… Again, yours is FANTASTIC!!!

    Donna @ An Enchanted Cottage

  84. Rhoda,

    I love a project that you can stand back from and go “WOW”! “Look what I did and look at how great that looks”. For sure this is something you can do. These stairs look amazing. Great job.

  85. I love your dad! He is just wonderful. Your stairs are look amazing, I can’t wait to see your finished house.

  86. Rhoda, this is absolutely the best tutorial I have seen to date on how to put new treads and risers in on stairs. Ripping up our yucky carpeted stairs and replacing them with treads and risers is at the top of the list for us. Great idea to paint them all first, and let them cure! I can’t believe your dad can help you with all this. That is priceless! Does he work for hire for girls in California?

    One other question, why did you need the miter saw? I am somewhat o.k. with power tools, but this one I am confused about. I am so inspired to do this soon and pinning this!

    • HI, Karen, thanks glad you like the tutorial. I tried to make it as thorough as possible. Look at the pics above. We ripped the 4×8′ sheet of smooth plywood down in strips. Then used the miter saw to cut each piece to fit each step. That’s a necessary step to get your risers to fit on each step.

  87. Hi Rhoda,
    I just finished reading your entire story~can honestly say I’ve never spent so much time on one persons blog before! You are an amazing, strong and talented woman. You obviously come by that honestly, your parents are gems!! Your house is not only going to be beautiful, it’s going to be extremely special because of the time, effort, and skill you and your parents have devoted to it! Can’t wait for the next update!
    One quick question for you…is there a caulking that can be painted over? I’m just assuming you are painting over it and the only stuff I’ve used you can’t do that with. Thank you 🙂

    • Hi, Cynthia, thanks for stopping by, so glad you enjoyed my story, it’s been quite the journey.

      Yes, most caulk IS paintable, so read the label. I usually use DAP caulk in my caulk gun and it’s definitely paintable. I use white for doors, trim, baseboards, all purpose caulk.

  88. Terry McCoy says:

    Hi Rhoda,
    Your stairs look awesome. I’m embarking on the same stair journey (with help from my Dad), and I was wondering if any glue was used to adhere the treads. I would rather use nails due to being sensitive to adhesive off gassing, but I was told the treads would move, and wouldn’t be secure with nails only. Do you find that the treads are less secure with nails only? Again, your stairs look lovely.

    • Hi, Terry, I only used nails from my nail gun on my stairs and I can say they are holding up fine. No movement at all and they don’t squeak either! I put at least 6-8 nails in each step.

  89. Looks great. I am starting my own transformation and was wondering if anyone else was using 1/4″ plywood for risers. Glad to see it looks great.

  90. Hello
    Congratulations your stairs look wonderful.
    I am in the process of pretty much doing a cover up job on my stairs and I did wonder if you had to trim the nose flush with the previous riser to get a better fit.
    I apologize if I missed this in your instructions.


    • Hi, Alvira, We put the risers on first and then added the stair tread. We did have to cut some off the backs of the stair treads so that they wouldn’t hang over too much. Is this what you’re asking. Depending on how square your existing stairs are, you will have small gaps at the back and sides of your stairs, so you have to fill in with caulk, but I still think they look great.

  91. Nice job, they look great and thanks for posting the instructions.

    Wondering how you got all the stairs to stand upright during the drying process. What is holding them upright?

  92. Thank you so much for the step-by-step instructions. I am tackling the basement steps at our house and our son’s house this week and this is extremely helpful. We live in Ellijay so I will be headed to Appalchian Supply to get the bullnose for the treads!

    • HI, Jodie, you may need to order them to get the longer lengths, so ask them about that. I had to place a special order.

  93. Shelley Cadamy Munoz says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I moved from a 1921 bungalow that I loved to a 1971 faux tudor, and I’ve been slowly updating it so that it feels like home. I ripped the carpet off the stairs, because I just couldn’t look at it anymore, and had plans to paint, but I couldn’t figure out how to make them look appropriate. This is perfect! And, I can swing this job by myself. Your dad is adorable, by the way.

  94. I was wondering how your stairs were holding up? specifically the white 1/4″ hardwood plywood kickboards?

    I have EXACTLY the same set of stairs – rough lumber which is sturdy – and I’m turning them into a thing of beauty!

    I’d like the WHITE kickboards to contrast with the stained oak wood treads, but I’m afraid the white kickboards are going to be a constant cleaning item.

    Would you have done anything differently???

    • HI, Sara, everything is holding is very well and no, I wouldn’t do anything differently a year later. They still look great!

  95. WOW! I am so glad I foudn your blog! I have ugly stairs that need covering up too! Thanks so so much for being so thorough and having so many pictures!

  96. Contractor Joe says:

    If anyone plans to follow this blog to redo their stairs, read the IRC(international residential code). It states that the height of any step cannot be any greater than 3/8″ difference from one step to another. The only way to do this correctly is to remove the original stair tread, if it was done right the first time. Problem is that you get accustomed to lifting or lowering your feet the same distance as you move up or down the stairs. when you get to that top or bottom step and it is an inch different, fall hazard is likely especially with elderly. looks beautiful though.

  97. I have pine treads, though they have been painted and nailed in wrong places (they are noisy) and repainted. Considering changing them, but wonering if I should try sanding them down and refinishing them first, what do you think?

    • IF you already have pine, then yes you could try to keep them and sand them down. You might not be able to fix all the nails, but you could sand repaint, and add a runner if you like.

  98. We just re-did our stairs – I wish I had come across this first. Ours turned out great, but lacks a certain charm :). I love the two color approach

  99. Just a thought, why would you not glue the risers to avoid having to patch up the nail holes?

  100. question, isn’t the height of each step supposed to be the same as per building codes? so essentially the very last setp is going to be a different height at the top, wouldn’t that cause a tripping issue?

    • HI, Kali, you are right in that it does throw off the steps a bit. I don’t know what building code is and I really didn’t worry about it as we updated these stairs. It may be a problem in the future, I don’t know, but it hasn’t caused a tripping issue at all for me or anyone who comes in my house. It’s very comfortable stepping up and down, even though the top and bottom steps are “off” just a bit. It’s really not a problem at all.


  1. […] on my feet. I knew it would take quite a long time to do that but I have got, as you can see on my Southern Hospitality blog I have an exceptional set of […]

  2. […] We’ll be staining our own treads and painting the risers white.  If you check out this blog post, you can see what we’re going for.  Luckily there are a lot of tutorials and success stories […]

  3. […] people will be removing carpet to do a stair runner. If you need to replace the wood, here is a really good blog post with a tutorial on that. Since I need to take off the polyurethane, I will need to use a stripper. […]

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