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I recently bought a house where the staircase running down into the garage has gaps between the treads and the edges. They look as if they are about to fall. It would make sense to me that this could happen if the right edge (the edge away from the wall) were loose... but that doesn't appear to be the case. In the pictures you can see that some of the stairs have a space on the left, one has it on the right.

wide view

stair view

(click for full size)

How do I go about fixing this?

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When you pull apart the two sides of your staircase, either side can come loose. It looks like the left side is tight against the wall, so I'd hammer the right side back in (use a piece of scrap wood so you don't leave a bunch of hammer marks).

I'd then find a way to secure the bottom tread with screws into both sides or secure the right side to the floor by running a tapcon screw through it and into the concrete.

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underneath the current stair treads is a piece of wood that looks to be something like a "1X2".

I'd replace it with a "2X2". Using 2.5" "all purpose" screws. (Basically coarse-thread drywall screws) the 2x2 is first screwed into the stringers horizontally, and then you screw down through the treads into it (vertically). The weight of the treads is supported by the 2x2's and your stair stringers can't spread apart.

It's fast, cheap, and will last as long as the rest of the stairs.

  • Don't use drywall screws for anything but drywall, they don't have much shear strength. Instead, use a standard wood screw. – BMitch Aug 7 '12 at 18:06

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