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I've been considering removing the carpet from my stairs, and installing hardwood flooring instead. While preparing for this project, I started watching YouTube videos.

A lot of the videos show guys simply sticking the treads and risers down, with only construction adhesive. Is this a legitimate technique for installing hardwood stairs? Are modern construction adhesives really strong enough to hold the treads in place, without any other fasteners?

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Simple answer... NO!!! As someone who's done a lot of hardwood flooring, as well as stairs, adhesives are not enough to hold a stair tread down. Treads should be attached with a combination of adhesive and nails. Nail length being a minimum of twice the thickness of your tread and of 16 gauge or larger.

You can just glue the risers but that's not something I'd personally do either. I'd use adhesive and a few Brad nails ( 18 gauge ) will suffice.

Most construction adhesives dry hard. And over time, simply break their bond to the stringer.

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    Of course, you could install cleats onto the stringers and blind-screw from the underside to eliminate visible fasteners. This is a more labor-intensive approach, obviously. – isherwood Oct 12 '18 at 19:01
  • And assuming there's access to the underside of the stringers... – BillWeckel Oct 12 '18 at 19:04
  • I'm not sure if it makes a difference, but I'm not working with bare stringers. The stairs are covered by a subfloor material (not sure exactly what's under the carpet), which I wasn't planning to remove (Although, that might raise the first step height too much). – Tester101 Oct 12 '18 at 19:53
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    When transitioning from carpet treads, which are normally 2x12's, normal practice is to strip the stringers bare. If not, your bottom tread will be at least 1" higher than the rest. 8" is the max height ( rise ) of an interior step. The only way to keep the rises consistent from top to bottom is by removing the carpet treads. The risers are more than likely 7/16" or 3/4" OSB. Of course, the riser material is my best guess with current building standards. – BillWeckel Oct 12 '18 at 20:11
  • @BillWeckel in your answer, you first said 16 gauge or larger nails, but then you also say using 18g brad nails. Can you clarify? I thought the brad nails are just for holding the tread in place while the glue dries – Quoc Vu Jan 25 at 4:03

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