Looking for advice for installing hardwood on and around stairs

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smashclash

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Currently the stairs are carpeted. I want to take the carpet off and install hardwood retrotreads over top of them with white risers. I've installed hardwood floors before and I've watched a lot of videos on installing new risers and treads but I have perhaps some unique challenges I'd like to get some pro opinions on. The color I'll be installing is Gunstock red oak. Let me break them down:

1) Bottom of the stairs. You'll see from the picture the bottom stair is rounded at the bottom on the sides. How do I go about getting a rounded tread (and riser) put over this? For the treads I was thinking of using these which would work on all the other treads but not the bottom: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Stairtek-S...stock-Prefinished-Red-Oak-Stair-Tread/3309002

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2) Top tread of the Stairs. What do you do with the top step? Presently that is carpeted but I'll be installing hardwood up there too. At first I thought perhaps I should install a retrotread on the top step too but I see several problems that would create. A) The retrotread ia 5/8" thick. The hardwood flooring is 3/4" thick. So in the case do I install the hardwood on the top stairs and then look a rounded lip that gets attached to the hardwood for the edge?

3) I'm hoping I could arrange the hardwood starting at the wall and then work toward the stairs. This would mean I'd have the ability to tongue nail the boards to the floor rather than glue or face nail since the nailer would be pointing toward the steps rather than the wall. If I can and should go this route, how do you account for when you get to the edge of the step? Do you carefully measure from the wall to what would be the edge of the top step and thus rip the first board that will go against the wall so when the boards get to the edge by the step the rounded lip you glue on would be in the correct position? Or is there another way to do this?

4) What do you do about the wood on the bottom where the balusters go in? I think it's 3/4" thick. I can't really tell cause the carpet is in the way. There is probably a 1/8" rounded bevel along the edge. My initial thought is to take a router and go along the edge to cut a groove into it to accept tongues from the hardwood. But could I end up with expansion/contraction issues? Also, since there is a slight bevel on the bottom wood and there is no bevel on the hardwood I will have a slightly exposed raw edge of the hardwood. Not sure if that would be noticeable or not. So I could attempt to rip off the edge of that bottom board to remove the bevel. Or I could try to bevel each hardwood plank I put in so it matches. That would mean I'd have a bit of a beveled depression between the bottom and the plank. Plus I'd have to do my best to try and stain the bevel I cut into the plank. Who knows if I can get the color to match. I don't really like the last option of leaving a large gap between the bottom and plan and then covering it over with a T-molding.

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5) Last but not lease is the boards will eventually meet up with existing hardwood. May be a little hard to see but in the pic toward the top where the french door is open there is hardwood. The boards I'd be adding would lay perpendicular to those. Will I run into any issues when I install the planks between the existing hardwood and the bottom wood piece under the balusters? Since it would need to sit tight against the existing hardwood and the bottom under baluster I'm not sure how I could get the wood installed between both with tongues on each side. One side will have to be tongueless. Also, since the planks will be tight in between the existing hardwood and the bottom am I going to have any expansion/contraction issues?
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C.J.

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You will have to square if or octagon off the rounded stair. They make the tread overlays with either a right hand or a left hand return. Pick one and you’ll have to fabricate the other side to match. It’s tricky and you’ll need some serious carpentry skills to pull that bottom stair off and have it look good using the tread overlay.

At the top of your stairs you will use a stair nose that will spline into your hardwood. At the balusters you can either use a T-mold to deal with the expansion space or you can bump the hardwood and hope for the best. I think I would remove the carpet and put a piece of hardwood up to the 1x that the balusters are connected to. Depending on what that match looks like would determine how I finish up to the 1x. A T-mold would look a little out of place but it would also make finishing off that area a whole lot easier. If the 1x is higher than your hardwood, you could undercut it.

I’m sure Mark has some ideas kicking around in his head.
 

Mark Brown

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Nah man, that is about spot on. Mostly.
Looking at that bottom stair, there is no way in hell I would install anything but a solid tread, that is what it wants and that is what you should give her.
With a jig saw and a router, you got yourself a rounded over stair, easy peasy. The finishing on the stair is easy enough to deal with, take it off. Failing that, you could easily just undercut it, but that makes fitting the stair all the much harder. I have been known to cut the balls out of posts too, especially if they are attached to the framing of the stairs and not the tread in any fashion. Looking at yours, it appears there are 4 screws per side that are plugged and screwed into the stringers or the framing, problem solved, under cut it all. Fashioning all of this is not complicated, but does take some time and research, we can provide one of those things.

As for starting or stopping at a stair, it is mostly moot. You have a few options, I like C.J.'s the most, get a nosing, I will eventually find an image of one for you and use that. You are correct in assuming you could just install a round over or 1/2 round on the wood edge and that would work ok, might even be the easiest, but a proper stair nose would be the best thing you could do. When my friend there says you "spline" into it, that just means inserting a tongue into the groove and then you can install the nosing, this is of course if your wood runs that way and by your description it does. In this way as well we are able to use any width board for the last row before the nosing because we just make either a groove to fit a spline or mill a tongue into a partial board.

As for your wee little hallway and worrying about expansion, I would not lose too much sleep locking in 3 feet of hardwood on one side for 8-12 feet. It wont be a problem, because if it was, every staircase I have ever installed would have blown apart by now and I would have heard of at least one of them :)
 

smashclash

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So I wanted to close the loop on this. I hate when I search threads and find my problem but it winds up open ended and I never know how it was solved. So I'm posting this in hopes it might help someone else in the future.

For the stairs I ended up taking 5mm sanded plywood and cut strips to make the risers. Glued them on using PL premium and a 18d nails along the top and bottom. For the treads I bought retreads from LL Flooring. They are 5/8" thick and same thing, glued them down with PL Premium and some 18d nails in the corners. One regret I had is I'm not sure I used enough PL premium. A few of the treads you can feel a little flex on and occassionally squeak. Err on the side of more glue than not enough. That would be the one thing I change if I had a do over.

The bottom tread I had custom made by LL Flooring. I didn't like the round look so I had them make me a rectangular version. I remade the base for the tread using 2x8 I ripped down on the table saw and secured it to the closed stair stringer. Then covered it over with the same 5mm riser and glue pieces.

As for the top of the stairs: I took planks and lined them up from the wall to the stair edge dry. This is the only way I felt comfortable knowing when I go to put the bullnose piece on it will line up perfectly. I did not square off the skirt boards under the balusters. I ended up cutting notches around them to mimic the skirt boards. A tiny bit of wood putty to fill in any imperfections.

For the those skirt boards, I took my router and cut in a 1/4" grove down them. The boards themselves are 3/4 thick but they sit up about 1/4 higher because the newel post underneath was attached to a 1/8" metal plate under it that secured to the floor. Routing this in allowed me to tuck the hardwood planks in underneath to allow for expansion/contraction without the worry of a gap ever appearing.

Last item, the floor wasn't flat but what floor is. The area at the top of the stairs I used Dap Floor patch leveler to help take out some dips. I also chiseled out some high spots near the newel posts in the floor. The area in front of the master bedroom was pretty low too. I had to use roof shingles, in some spots 2 shingles deep and then feathered the edges with more patch leveler.
 

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Mark Brown

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Well that turned out really, really nice. Job well done and thanks for coming back and sharing!!

...I also hate unclosed threads.
 

smashclash

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Couple more pics of the upstairs. I really like how the hardwood by the skirt board came out being a little tucked under it after I routed in a groove for the hardwood to fit inside it
 

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Tile Tom

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Now put a nice runner on those stairs & maybe some stair rods to really look sharp!
I love hardwood stairs but have taken a digger one too many times in socks. Not fun when your getting ready to roll out to work
 
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