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replacing stair treads built into stringer

Replacing Stair Treads Built Into Stringer

If you’re replacing stair treads built into stringer, you’ve come to the right place. Stair treads may not always be the first thing on your mind, but they play a vital role in both aesthetics and safety. Over time, these trusty steps can wear down, become creaky, or simply start to show their age. Fortunately, tackling this project yourself can be a rewarding experience, both in terms of saving money and learning new skills.

In this article, we’ll demystify the process of replacing stair treads built into the stringer, making it accessible to everyone, regardless of your prior DIY experience. So, let’s get started on transforming your stairs and enhancing the beauty and safety of your home.

Understanding Stair Treads and Stringers

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of stair tread replacement, it’s essential to understand the key players in your staircase: stair treads and stringers. Think of them as the unsung heroes that make your daily trips up and down the stairs possible.

Stair Treads and Stringers

Stair treads are the horizontal steps you place your feet on, providing support and a surface to walk on. They come in various materials, including wood, metal, and even concrete, depending on your staircase’s design and your personal preference. Stair treads are not only functional but also contribute significantly to the overall aesthetic appeal of your staircase.

Stringers, on the other hand, are the structural backbone of your stairs. They are the inclined boards on either side that provide support to the stair treads, keeping them in place. Stringers can be exposed, where you can see them from the side, or they can be built into the wall for a sleek, minimalistic look. The stringer configuration impacts the stability and visual design of your staircase.

With this knowledge in hand, you’re better prepared to tackle the project and make informed decisions about materials and design choices that suit your style and budget.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Now that you have a good grasp of stair treads and stringers, let’s talk about the practical aspects of your stair tread replacement project. To embark on this DIY journey successfully, you’ll need the right tools and materials by your side. Here’s a comprehensive list to get you started:


Safety Gear: Safety first! Equip yourself with safety goggles, a dust mask, and ear protection to shield yourself from dust, debris, and noise during the project.

Measuring Tape: Precision is key. A reliable measuring tape helps you take accurate measurements for your new stair treads.

Circular Saw: This will be your go-to tool for cutting and trimming your new treads to the right size and shape.

Chisel and Hammer: For removing old treads and making precise adjustments.

Screwdriver Set: To remove screws and fasteners holding the old treads in place.

Pry Bar: A sturdy pry bar helps in gently dislodging old treads without damaging surrounding areas.

Level: Ensure your new treads are perfectly horizontal for safety and aesthetics.

Drill and Screws: Essential for securing new treads in place.

Wood Glue: Provides extra bonding strength for a secure fit.

Paintbrushes or Stain Applicators: If you plan to paint or stain your treads for a polished finish.


New Stair Treads: Depending on your preference and budget, choose high-quality stair treads in wood, metal, or any other material that suits your staircase’s design.

Finishing Supplies: Paint, stain, or sealant, as well as sandpaper for a smooth finish.

Safety Nosing: Optional, but highly recommended for added safety, especially if you have children or elderly individuals using the stairs.

Wood Screws and Fasteners: To secure the new treads firmly to the stringers.

Wood Glue: For extra adhesive strength.

Wood Filler: In case you need to fill gaps or imperfections.

With the right tools and materials at your disposal, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the next steps in replacing your stair treads built into the stringer.

Stair Treads Built Into Stringer Step-by-Step Replacement Guide

Here’s where the rubber meets the road – the step-by-step guide to replacing stair treads built into the stringer. We’ll break down the process into manageable stages, ensuring you can confidently take on this DIY project.

Stair Treads Built Into Stringer Replacement Guide

Step 1: Assessment

Begin by assessing the condition of your existing stair treads. Identify any damage, wear, or creaks. Determine if any treads need replacement and mark them for removal. Remember, safety is paramount, so if you discover severely damaged treads that compromise stability, address them promptly.

Step 2: Removal

Using your screwdriver, carefully remove any screws or fasteners securing the old treads to the stringers. A pry bar can be handy here to gently lift and remove the old treads without damaging the surrounding areas. Patience is key; take your time to avoid splintering or breaking the stringers.

Step 3: Prep Work

Now that you have a clean slate, inspect the stringers for any damage or rot. Replace or repair them as needed. Sand down the stringers and remove any remnants of the old adhesive or glue to ensure a smooth surface for the new treads.

Step 4: Cut and Fit New Treads

Measure your new treads carefully, allowing for any overhang or nosing if desired. Use your circular saw to cut the treads to the exact size and shape needed. Ensure they fit snugly and securely onto the stringers.

Step 5: Adhesive and Fastening

Apply wood glue generously to the top of the stringers. Carefully place the new treads onto the stringers, ensuring they are level and flush with the edge. Use your drill and wood screws to fasten the treads securely in place. Remember to work from the bottom of the staircase upwards.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

If you’re opting for a stained or painted finish, now is the time to apply your chosen finish. Sand the treads for a smooth surface, apply a primer if necessary, and then paint or stain according to your design preferences. Allow ample drying time before using the stairs.

Step 7: Safety Nosing (Optional)

Consider adding safety nosing to the front edge of your treads for enhanced safety and aesthetics. This helps prevent slips and adds a finished look to your stairs.

Step 8: Regular Maintenance

Congratulations, your stair tread replacement project is complete! Regularly inspect and maintain your new treads to ensure they remain in top condition. Keep an eye out for any signs of wear and address them promptly to prolong the life of your staircase.

Remember, take your time, prioritize safety, and enjoy the transformation of your staircase.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

While replacing stair treads built into the stringer can be a rewarding DIY project, it’s not without its challenges. Understanding and preparing for these common hurdles will help you navigate them like a pro.

Challenges and How to Overcome

Challenge 1: Hidden Damage

During the removal stage, you may discover hidden damage to the stringers, such as rot or structural issues. It’s crucial to address these problems before proceeding. If the damage is minor, repair it with wood filler or reinforcement brackets. For extensive damage, consider seeking professional help to ensure the structural integrity of your stairs.

Challenge 2: Uneven Stringers

Stringers that aren’t perfectly level or straight can cause alignment issues with the new treads. To overcome this, use a level during installation to ensure each tread is even. You can also shim under the treads to compensate for uneven stringers. Take your time to achieve a precise fit.

Challenge 3: Squeaky Stairs

Squeaky stairs are often caused by gaps between the treads and the stringers. To address this, add wood glue along with the screws when securing the treads to the stringers. The glue acts as a buffer, reducing movement and minimizing noise. For existing squeaks, you can also use a squeak elimination kit with specialized screws designed to stop the noise.

Challenge 4: Finish and Aesthetic Issues

Achieving a flawless finish on your new treads can be challenging, especially if you’re staining or painting. To avoid streaks or blotches, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your chosen finish. Sand the treads between coats for a smooth surface. If you encounter imperfections, consider refinishing or using wood filler to correct them.

Challenge 5: Inadequate Tools or Skills

If you’re new to DIY projects or lack specific tools, it’s essential to start small and build your skills gradually. Consider taking a woodworking class or seeking guidance from a more experienced friend or professional. Renting tools is also an option if you’re unsure about committing to a purchase. Remember that safety should be a top priority, so never undertake a project if you’re uncomfortable or unsafe.

When to Seek Professional Help

Undertaking a stair tread replacement project is an admirable DIY endeavor, but there are instances where calling in a professional contractor is the wisest choice. Here are some scenarios to consider:

When to Seek Professional Help

  1. Extensive Structural Damage: If you discover that your stair stringers have severe structural damage or rot, it’s essential to seek professional help. Repairing or replacing compromised stringers is a task best left to experienced contractors who can ensure the safety and stability of your staircase.
  1. Complex Staircase Designs: If your staircase features intricate designs, curves, or unique architectural elements, it may be beyond the scope of a typical DIY project. Professional contractors have the expertise and tools to handle complex installations with precision.
  1. Time Constraints: DIY projects can be time-consuming, and if you have a busy schedule or need your stairs back in working order quickly, hiring a professional can expedite the process. They’ll have a team and resources to complete the project efficiently.
  1. Lack of Skills or Tools: If you lack the necessary skills or tools to carry out the project safely and effectively, it’s better to entrust the task to professionals. A botched DIY job can end up costing more in the long run to rectify.
  1. Safety Concerns: Staircases are a crucial part of your home’s safety. If you have any doubts about your ability to complete the project safely, it’s best to hire experts who can ensure that your stairs meet all safety standards.
  1. Permits and Regulations: Depending on your location, replacing stair treads may require permits and adherence to building codes. Professional contractors are well-versed in local regulations and can ensure your project complies with all necessary requirements.
  1. Personal Comfort: If you’re not comfortable or confident in your DIY skills, there’s no shame in seeking professional assistance. Your peace of mind is invaluable.

When in doubt, consult with a reputable remodeling contractor who can assess your project and provide guidance on the best course of action.


Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of our comprehensive guide. We hope this resource has equipped you with the knowledge, confidence, and inspiration to tackle this DIY project and transform your staircase.

Throughout this journey, you’ve learned about the critical components of stair treads and stringers, assessed the need for replacement, and gathered the essential tools and materials. Our step-by-step guide has taken you from the initial assessment to the finishing touches, with tips on addressing common challenges and knowing when to seek professional help.

If you’ve decided that your project requires professional expertise, don’t hesitate to reach out to reputable remodeling contractors who can guide you through the process.

Thank you for choosing our guide as your trusted companion on this journey. We wish you the best of luck with your stair tread replacement project, and may your newly refreshed staircase be a source of pride and safety in your home for years to come. Happy remodeling!