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I've purchased some hard wood flooring to go throughout my entire house. The pieces for the stairs are extremely expensive and are just too much for my budget. It was suggested to me by the sales guy that I could "just build my own out of hardwood floor pieces". He has "nose" pieces (3" wide by 8' long) that I can attach to 2 or 3 pieces of hardwood floor that I can use to just build my own tread, and then build my own risers out of a few pieces as well. This will be significantly cheaper.

This is a sales guy though, so, I can throw him further than I can trust him. Will it look good (or even work) for me to do this? Should I just forget the stairs and leave the carpet on them? I spent a bit looking online for tutorials/etc on how to build your own treads and risers and I couldn't find anyone really doing (or recommending) that you do this.

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How much does one tread cost? How much does all of the floor boards plus the nose piece to make one tread cost? – longneck Oct 10 '13 at 19:37
One tread + one riser is $140. That's more than a nose piece and entire box of flooring combined. Not sure how many treads & risers you can get out of a single box of flooring though, will have to measure and see... – cmcculloh Oct 10 '13 at 19:46
Compared to treads made from a single piece of wood, I find built up treads (as your are suggesting) to be more attractive. – mike Oct 10 '13 at 20:44
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Time = Money. And assembling these in a manner that won't cause you headache later is going to take a lot of time.

To make a tread, you'll need to laminate the floorboard together somehow, otherwise they will flex under the weight. Construction adhesive would work, but wood glue might be better. And don't forget to sand or plane off the finish before you glue them together because the glue won't stick as well to the finished face.

Multiply all of this by the number of steps you have.

Another method with slightly less work is to put down regular stair treads, then put your hardwood planks over the top. You need to carefully select the correct thickness of the tread, taking in to account the thickness of your planks and the nose molding. This is similar to what is described in the article you linked to in your comment.

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OK, since asking this question, I found this little tutorial: hardwoodinstaller.com/installation/stairs-glue-plank.htm It looks like you wouldn't necessarily have to glue them all together? – cmcculloh Oct 10 '13 at 19:47
@cmcculloh its important to note in the tutorial you linked to that the floorboards are being glued to some kind of a sub-floor on each stair tread, though that's not explicit in the tutorial. This is what longneck is referring to in his last paragraph. With a single piece tread, you could go straight onto the stringers without the sub-tread. – mac Oct 10 '13 at 21:26
Also, I think I come down on the side of longneck, use one-piece treads. Each joint has the potential to make noise when things flex under load. No one likes noisy stairs. – mac Oct 10 '13 at 21:36

I have done this. To get it to work well, you will need to build a jig so that you can clamp the nosing piece onto the other pieces. It is not particularly hard to do this, but it will take a while; I did one tread a night for a couple of weeks. If the pieces are prefinished, you may have to do some sanding to get surfaces that will glue together well.

After that, it's a matter of ripping and cutting them to size (use a stair gauge here for best results).

Seven or eight years later, it's held up well.

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You can get this oak thread cap from home depot for under $25 then stain it to match your hardwood flooring.
enter image description here

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I just did this in my home.

You can buy solid pine or oak stair treads at Lowes. Pine are $10, oak $20 (At least as of Summer 2013 when I purchased mine). Stain to match, then give them a couple good coats of polyurethane.

If you have a traditional starcase with the treads sitting on top of stringers, it's fairly straight-forward - knock up existing tread with large hammer, install new tread.

If you have a "modern construction" staircase where they've dadoed the side supports and the treads are inserted into them you can cut the existing treads back to where they're flush with the existing risers. Install new tread over top and cut/install new risers to cover the old ones.

The one downside is that it's unlikely you'll match the stain perfectly. Ours is close, and we painted the risers the trim color; we were very happy with the results.

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