hopefully I'm using the right term. It might be called closed stringer stairs to open stringer (on one side). Please correct me so that I know the correct term for this. I also refer to it as "cut-outs". Anyway, I have two sets of stair cases - one in the front of the house and one off the kitchen in the back.

Front stair case: Used to be carpet and I'm putting down sand and finish hardwood. Right now, the 1st 3 steps are closed tread, meaning the edge of the treads and risers on both sides butt up against the stringer so that u can't see the outline of the stairs if u are looking at them from the side. I want to change the look so that u can see the outline of the sides of the stairs on both sides, which is what i believe is called "open tread stairs". This means the treads and risers would come out farther in each side with a bullnose on each side edge.

PCan i just cut out the wall and skirtboard using a recip saw along the rise and run of the stairs and then put the tread and risers over my cutouts OR do i need to reframe the side walls? Or, do i need to reframe the 3 steps entirely? If reframing each wall, what would that entail? Any examples/videos/pictures would be a huge help! If reframing the steps, do i use the same number of stringers (3) but just no skirtboard since it's open on both sides or maybe i use 5 stringers with the 2 extra going on each side (drywall going over them of course) to support the longer tread and risers?

Back Stair Case: Currently both sides are closed. One side of each stair run is up against a main wall, so I only want to open one side of each stair run (the side the camera is facing - which is simply where the skirtboard goes up to). How should I go about accomplishing this?

My contractor got sick years ago and it's super hard to find anyone to help that won't sub it out and charge me a massive fee, so I'm trying to do it myself.

Thanks for the help!

I've attached a few photos. The first 3 are of the back stairs. The 4th, in case my description is of what I want them to look like after is not clear, is of what I'm referring to as "open stair tread" (possibly called open stringer..let me know if not correct terminology). The photo shows the landing as being open but my landing will remain closed since it's a full wall that encloses the landing.

The 5th photo is of the front stairs. Only the first 3 steps need to be converted from closed tread to open tread.

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  • Trust me , it just becomes a dust collector. Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 15:57
  • Everything is a dust collector. :)
    – Larry
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 19:55

1 Answer 1


A stringer is what supports the treads of a staircase from below. The treads sit on the stringers. There are likely three - one at each end and one down the center, continuous up any single run of steps. The walls that skirt your steps on the outside and hide the step’s edges are merely decorative and can be removed or modified without affecting the structural integrity of the staircase.

Take down the walls you need to, to uncover the ends of the steps, then reframe the walls so the framing is flush with the outside face of the outside stair stringer. Then finish with new drywall, wood, whatever you fancy.

The staircase you have with the switchback in it with the wall in the middle - that decorative wall in the middle can be taken down to the level of the middle landing and made flush with the floor there, creating a little shelf.

  • Paul - thanks for your comment. This is what I was thinking/hoping. In regards to your last suggestion, are you meaning the wall that encloses the landing?
    – Larry
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 1:08
  • Larry, I was speaking of the wall with the light switch on it in the top most photo that divides the two runs of steps.
    – paul
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 4:41

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