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Our main stair case is carpeted. Underneath is (at best) construction-grade plywood.

We'd like to replace this with wood overlays. Probably maple (to match other floors).

I've found prices for overlay treads between $33 and $100. $30 sounds reasonable. $100 definitely not.

Yet, even at $30, we're looking at at about $350 + shipping in treads.

I did some quick math and figured that with two really nice sheet of 3/4" maple ply, I could easily rip down more than enough treads and then finish the front with a maple half-round (glue and pin). I figured that'd be about $100 in materials total.

Is there any strong reason to not go that route?

Obviously, with the pre cut option, I'd save a little bit in labor. Though I'd still be cutting those to 'fit' the existing stairs properly so maybe it's not that big of a difference.

Any other strong arguments as to not go the DIY plywood + half-round route vs. premade?

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The overlays appear to be solid hardwood. The plywood is a thin veneer over other non hardwood plys. As the steps wear, you run the risk of wearing through the veneer. Even if you don't, if you need to refinish, you again risk sanding through that thin top layer.

In my old house, the bottom stair had a worn dip in the middle (reputedly eroded by my younger son's butt that perched there in his many time-outs). A veneer would have been long gone.

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Good point about refinishing. Solid wood would definitely be a plus there. – DA01 Oct 30 '13 at 17:36
I'd also imagine that the half-round bull noses would be subject to repeated kicks, and may work their way loose/off. – mac Oct 30 '13 at 20:54
@mac People often say here that glue is even stronger than wood, but I am with you on this one. – bib Oct 30 '13 at 20:59

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