I need to replace the treads on my closed-stringer staircase. They are 100-year-old softwood with unsightly, disintegrating rubber covers glued on. One stringer is against the outer wall of the house, the other faces inwards, but removing it and getting it back on is well beyond my abilities at this time. They appear to be dadoed into the stringer. Is there a way to remove the old treads without taking the stringer off first? I suppose I could saw it off at the groove but I don't think that would be stable.

Update: Pictures

section of staircase one step on the banister side Same step on the wall side

  • Pictures might be helpful.
    – Tester101
    Jun 18 '12 at 15:03
  • Done. Hope I didn't make them too big.
    – Yitzchak
    Jun 18 '12 at 21:11
  • 1
    We typically get our stairs prebuilt and installed as a single unit. I haven't looked closely at how they're assembled, but I wouldn't be surprised if the treads are sandwiched between the stringers in a way that can't be easily disassembled without removing the entire thing. Of course, there's more than one way to build a staircase.
    – BMitch
    Jun 19 '12 at 3:20

The easiest way IMO, would be to cut the nosing off the treads flush with the risers then just install new risers in front of the old, flush with the top of the old tread and install new thread on top of the old.

Removing the old treads and replacing them is not a simple/easy task, it can be done though.


You can use hardwood flooring to cover the treads and even the risers. Engineered wood flooring is generally thinner than solid flooring, and most major brands, such as Bruce, sell matching solid tread nose molding that interlocks with the floor boards. This all can be glued down and toenailed to the existing treads and risers (after you remove the rubber).

You need to be careful at the top step to make sure that it ends up even with the floor or landing at the top to avoid a trip hazard. Just using the nose moulding may be a solution if you can cut away the existing nose and inset the new nose into the top landing.

You also need to make sure that the bottom step does not become to high above the lower floor, which could also be a trip hazard. If the stair ends at a landing, this is less of a problem.


Do you have access to the back, you might be able to work then out backwards after trimming off any bullnose they might have.

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