So the stairs to my basement(like most others) are not made of any nice lumber. It’s just 2x10s for treads and something like 1x6 for risers. No rounded over edge of the treads or anything. Where the treads meet the stringers some pretty significant gaps were there and so someone a long time ago packed mortar in the gaps and the painted them over with the old lead based paint. I finished my basement and the last thing I want to do is paint the steps. Being that they were just made out of some kind of pine lumber they have a pretty rough looking surface from the knots and various gouges over the years. I want to essentially skim coat the treads with thin set mortar so I have a nice smooth surface to paint. Anyone every heard of doing that and if so does it hold adhesion under the weight of constant footsteps up and down?


In my opinion, that's the wrong approach. Cement and mortar don't do well in places that move, and stairs tend to move.

I've restored several sets of old basement stairs in my homes, and new lumber is your best bet. I've gone with stained pine, which is beautiful but a bit soft. If you're going to paint, consider bullnose particle board.

By rebuilding with 1x8 pine and your choice of tread you eliminate those gaps, remove any squeaks (by using construction adhesive on all joints), and leave a very nice base for some good floor paint or stain and urethane.

  • Yea good call. Just nearing the end of the budget for this project and had an extra bag of thin set laying around. I considered using that screening wood putty stuff but I decided against it for the exact same issue you mentioned. I already started pulling the treads, just going to replace them. Mar 27 '18 at 2:33
  • Good move. You'll be glad you did.
    – Paul Logan
    Mar 27 '18 at 6:38

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