Cost to do an oak stairway

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highup

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Most of you have probably followed the slow motion stair tread installation that I will eventually get done. Homeowner has had me working on that plus other things for quite a while. Recently, the focus became more intent on these stairs, than installing the pocket door, paint prep and installing a new washer and dryer, doorway transitions etc etc. There's been a lot of distractions from getting down and dirty, and sticking solely to the stairs.

Now that I am, I'm curious what it would actually cost to have the stairway done. I'm doing this by the hour. Pay isn't spectacular, but neither are the demands. Better than not having work, and it's also very enjoyable. Nice people to work for.

Back to my question.
You are offered a job to sand, finish and install new oak stair treads and risers. This is new construction, but really two year old construction.

Temporary stair treads are made up of 2 by 6 lumber with a screw or two in each one. Nothing purdy, simply functional.
The contractor at that time knew that 1 inch oak stair treads would eventually be the finished surface on these stringers.

Here's a glimpse from an image that I have previously posted. (pay no attention to the arrows on tread 2)
Take note of the lower tread and stair skirt and how close the tread fits against the skirt. My temporary plywood treads are square.
Now take note of the third step up on the left side. Again, my temporary treads are square.
What I am saying is that the skirt shape varies to and fro a quite a bit. Stair 3 is probably one of the worst examples. Risers are of course are out the same. Nothing is square, and some treads ended up with a slightly rounded contour to fit those distorted skirts. Because of that, I cut it all with a jigsaw for a more accurate cut.

I'm amazed at the time it takes to properly shim these stair treads and risers as I go to make them come out level and square. So far, I'm ready to start riser and tread #10 The tread height is within 1/16" up to this point. The difference in the tread depths is probably 1/8" or less.
I think that initially the stringers were cut well, but that they shrunk up a lot on the outermost edges, making a lot of shimming necessary where the stair nose and upper part of the riser meet. I am guessing this is relatively common unless kiln dried lumber was used for making the stringers?

You have 12 oak plywood risers and 13 unfinished, 1 inch thick stair treads to sand, stain, finish and install. Materials are provided. So for labor only, what's "typical" stair installation like described run?
....anyway, let the bidding begin. :D
What's the realistic highs and lows of a job like this one. It's just for my own info.............. I'm working hourly. I'm guessing well over $1200 buchanaros if a "real" wood guy was doing this job.


DSC01070 Stair guide with Formica in place 900.jpg
 
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highup

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No place at the job site to do the staining and finishing. The job is over 30 minutes away. I took the pre cut treads and oversized riser pieces back here to town to do that.
So add to the mix, transportation and packaging issues, and waiting over the weekend to be sure the stain was dry. Then two coats per day........... say 4 1/2 hours per day for 7 coats. Then package them up safely to be transported back to the job site. Say at least 16 hours in actual finish time.
I'm betting that about doubles the install cost? (again, materials were provided)

There wasn't room at the jobsite to lay all of the material out and do the finishing up there.
 

JIMMIEM

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Most of you have probably followed the slow motion stair tread installation that I will eventually get done. Homeowner has had me working on that plus other things for quite a while. Recently, the focus became more intent on these stairs, than installing the pocket door, paint prep and installing a new washer and dryer, doorway transitions etc etc. There's been a lot of distractions from getting down and dirty, and sticking solely to the stairs.

Now that I am, I'm curious what it would actually cost to have the stairway done. I'm doing this by the hour. Pay isn't spectacular, but neither are the demands. Better than not having work, and it's also very enjoyable. Nice people to work for.

Back to my question.
You are offered a job to sand, finish and install new oak stair treads and risers. This is new construction, but really two year old construction.

Temporary stair treads are made up of 2 by 6 lumber with a screw or two in each one. Nothing purdy, simply functional.
The contractor at that time knew that 1 inch oak stair treads would eventually be the finished surface on these stringers.

Here's a glimpse from an image that I have previously posted. (pay no attention to the arrows on tread 2)
Take note of the lower tread and stair skirt and how close the tread fits against the skirt. My temporary plywood treads are square.
Now take note of the third step up on the left side. Again, my temporary treads are square.
What I am saying is that the skirt shape varies to and fro a quite a bit. Stair 3 is probably one of the worst examples. Risers are of course are out the same. Nothing is square, and some treads ended up with a slightly rounded contour to fit those distorted skirts. Because of that, I cut it all with a jigsaw for a more accurate cut.

I'm amazed at the time it takes to properly shim these stair treads and risers as I go to make them come out level and square. So far, I'm ready to start riser and tread #10 The tread height is within 1/16" up to this point. The difference in the tread depths is probably 1/8" or less.
I think that initially the stringers were cut well, but that they shrunk up a lot on the outermost edges, making a lot of shimming necessary where the stair nose and upper part of the riser meet. I am guessing this is relatively common unless kiln dried lumber was used for making the stringers?

You have 12 oak plywood risers and 13 unfinished, 1 inch thick stair treads to sand, stain, finish and install. Materials are provided. So for labor only, what's "typical" stair installation like described run?
....anyway, let the bidding begin. :D
What's the realistic highs and lows of a job like this one. It's just for my own info.............. I'm working hourly. I'm guessing well over $1200 buchanaros if a "real" wood guy was doing this job.

My neighbor had his stairs done in 3/4" red oak....12 stairs total, 5 stairs had a return on one end and 7 stairs were boxed between skirt boards..also had hand rail and ballusters replaced. Stairs were site finished. Quotes ran from $1700 to $4500. He took the $1700 quote and it really looks amateurish. He regrets his decision. Your $1200 plus materials sounds like a bargain.....if I had known I would have had you come and do mine.....and my wife is an excellent cook. I had read somewhere to figure on about 45 minutes for a pro to measure, cut, and install each step.
 

Ernesto

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My neighbor had his stairs done in 3/4" red oak....12 stairs total, 5 stairs had a return on one end and 7 stairs were boxed between skirt boards..also had hand rail and ballusters replaced. Stairs were site finished. Quotes ran from $1700 to $4500. He took the $1700 quote and it really looks amateurish. He regrets his decision. Your $1200 plus materials sounds like a bargain.....if I had known I would have had you come and do mine.....and my wife is an excellent cook. I had read somewhere to figure on about 45 minutes for a pro to measure, cut, and install each step.

Thats about right, one Franklin an hour, cost of doing business. Returns are extra, as are landings.
There's lots of different variables that go along with stairs, from the basic boxed in to what you described with ballisters (wood and wrought iron etc) and railings, the sky is the limit.
 

highup

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My neighbor had his stairs done in 3/4" red oak....12 stairs total, 5 stairs had a return on one end and 7 stairs were boxed between skirt boards..also had hand rail and ballusters replaced. Stairs were site finished. Quotes ran from $1700 to $4500. He took the $1700 quote and it really looks amateurish. He regrets his decision. Your $1200 plus materials sounds like a bargain.....if I had known I would have had you come and do mine.....and my wife is an excellent cook. I had read somewhere to figure on about 45 minutes for a pro to measure, cut, and install each step.
Site finished, stairs, risers, and balusters for 1700. :eek:
I bet he didn't use a jigsaw to cut em. That would take another 3 minutes per step. :D
On mine, you might be able to slide a dollar bill (no, not a credit card) between the tread and skirt. I cut em that way intentionally.
I could cut and nail one in in about an hour, but it's taking me more time to shim them to where they need to be so the tread is level and the riser plumb.
Both dimensions are about 1/8" out at the nose area on all the stringers. I didn't figure glue was supposed to make fills anywhere near that deep.
My shimming may be overboard. The shims fit the depth of the stringer or to wherever they need to stop at........... 1/8 to zero or whatever.

I'm doing all the cuts outside, at the bottom of the front steps, so each trip outside to make a cut, or sand down a shim is about 50 feet plus 10 steps round trip.
I can see why stairways are expensive to have done.
 

JIMMIEM

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Site finished, stairs, risers, and balusters for 1700. :eek:
I bet he didn't use a jigsaw to cut em. That would take another 3 minutes per step. :D
On mine, you might be able to slide a dollar bill (no, not a credit card) between the tread and skirt. I cut em that way intentionally.
I could cut and nail one in in about an hour, but it's taking me more time to shim them to where they need to be so the tread is level and the riser plumb.
Both dimensions are about 1/8" out at the nose area on all the stringers. I didn't figure glue was supposed to make fills anywhere near that deep.
My shimming may be overboard. The shims fit the depth of the stringer or to wherever they need to stop at........... 1/8 to zero or whatever.

I'm doing all the cuts outside, at the bottom of the front steps, so each trip outside to make a cut, or sand down a shim is about 50 feet plus 10 steps round trip.
I can see why stairways are expensive to have done.

The $1700 included a new newel post too.
Stairs feel rough to the touch....when they finished them they forgot to add something to make them dry fast so the family had no access to the second floor for 2 days (bedrooms and shower are on second floor). Could slide a couple of credit cards between every tread end and the skirt board. Gaps where the treads abutt the risers. The installed scotia moulding under the tread overhangs to cover those gaps. The landing tread has now loosened on one end....I told him I would secure it for him.
Getting paid by the hour to do the stairs is a good situation for you....you can take your time and do it right. FWIW put some wood filler where you can slide the $20 bill....get a good color match....the stairs will look perfect and the homeowner will put you in his will.
 

highup

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The $1700 included a new newel post too.
Stairs feel rough to the touch....when they finished them they forgot to add something to make them dry fast so the family had no access to the second floor for 2 days (bedrooms and shower are on second floor). Could slide a couple of credit cards between every tread end and the skirt board. Gaps where the treads abutt the risers. The installed scotia moulding under the tread overhangs to cover those gaps. The landing tread has now loosened on one end....I told him I would secure it for him.
Getting paid by the hour to do the stairs is a good situation for you....you can take your time and do it right. FWIW put some wood filler where you can slide the $20 bill....get a good color match....the stairs will look perfect and the homeowner will put you in his will.
A bill is 4 thousandths of an inch thick, and putty is 5 thousandths......... so the putty is to wide. :D
The skirt boards are MDF, and they move a little because of the way they stringer was attached to the wall. I felt and exact fit, plus a few strokes with a sanding block would be better than a tight fit. It isn't a gap in the sense of looking like they were cut short. They look clean and even.
 

JIMMIEM

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A bill is 4 thousandths of an inch thick, and putty is 5 thousandths......... so the putty is to wide. :D
The skirt boards are MDF, and they move a little because of the way they stringer was attached to the wall. I felt and exact fit, plus a few strokes with a sanding block would be better than a tight fit. It isn't a gap in the sense of looking like they were cut short. They look clean and even.

WOW....I hope you're getting well paid for that level of detail....you certainly are worth it. Roller skates are a great idea so that you can get to the bank quickly with all the well deserved $ you are making.
 
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