My 1960 Massachusetts home has red oak flooring, and one of the treads on the first to second floor staircase has started splitting:
The crack is almost unnoticeable, and I'd love to fix it by just reinforcing the bottom. Unfortunately, to get there I'd have to cut through the popcorn-finished plaster ceiling of the basement stairs, and it would be tough for me to patch that without looking bad.
I could replace the tread, but I'm concerned about matching the finish. I could remove, repair and reinstall it, but it's nailed down so I don't see how I could get it out without damaging it.
Any suggestions about the best path forward? Am I overly-concerned about matching the (pretty generic polyurethane) finish? Am I overly optimistic about repairing the tread? Should I just go in through the popcorn and plaster?
And, I believe the basement stairs have the same construction as the stairs with the cracked step (they certainly look the same from the top), so here's a wide view under the basement stairs:
and here's a closer view from the other side:
Edit: I just drilled a 5/8" hole through the stringer under the split tread, and slid in an inspection camera. I saw just what I expected: the bottom of the step, the center stringer, and the plaster boards for the ceiling over the basement stairs. (And, the webs of various disappointed spiders.)
Edit 2: The surface on the basement stair ceiling isn't stucco, it's popcorn (with a bit of swirly texture), which given my home age seems likely to contain asbestos. I'd test before I do any work on it, but that's yet another concern. (I've corrected the rest of my text.)
Edit 3: As Michael Karas noticed, the basement steps seem to be pine, although the upstairs steps are oak. I measured, and the visible tread thickness on both stairs is 3/4", and the basement stairs do NOT have a second board under the visible tread. (This isn't exactly a high-end building...)