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(See photo below).

I have hardwood flooring that goes into stairs. The horizontal wooden slat right before the stairs is very slightly raised, by maybe an 1/8 of an inch, maybe even 1/16th. It's not a major problem, but I'm worried it's a tripping hazard which could end horribly wrong if you trip down the whole flight of stairs.

Is there a way I can make the two hardwood slats smooth with each other?

enter image description here

enter image description here

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  • Does it move down when pressure is applied, like stepping on it? If so, it just needs a nail or nails in the right place to keep it down. Need more info to say where. The picture does not show where the problem area is. Is it the piece at the edge of the stairs, or is it one of the pieces of flooring perpendicular to it? – Jack Mar 2 '20 at 3:20
  • It’s the horizontal piece in the picture. In some of those areas the vertical hardwood flooring connects with it at a 1/16 of an inch lower than the horizontal slab. It doesn’t move down on pressure. I can try to post another photo from a lower angle – David Mar 2 '20 at 3:24
  • I added another photo from a lower angle to hopefully show the issue. I don't think it's that extreme, but the fact that this is right at the top of the stairs scares me a little about elderly family going downstairs and potentially tripping on it. – David Mar 2 '20 at 3:30
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    i had two uneven floor surfaces like that that i fixed by drilling small holes in the lower surface, injecting gorilla glue into the hole, then hot-gluing the hole shut. One i had to drill a screw into partly to provide a handle to lift it slightly before glue injection. The glue expands and lifts up the lower plank slightly before it turns rock hard. Then, all i had to do was pull out the hot glue, fill with wood putty, sand/stain/etc. – dandavis Mar 2 '20 at 17:54
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    It's common for those nosings to be heavier than the rest of the floor. They carry a huge amount of torque. I would consider transitioning the edge with a bevel and leave it alone. – isherwood Mar 2 '20 at 21:31
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If the top step is slightly higher than the hardwood flooring it shouldn't be much of a problem to pull it up and plane down the underside to the thickness you're seeking. You just don't want to overdo it. Be patient in removing the stair slat to prevent splitting.
EDIT
If the stair is mortised into the stringer the only realistic solution is to carefully use a sanding block to bevel the back edge of the step to reduce the risk. If you can keep the bevel area narrow and not impact the flooring you might be able to apply a matching stain and seal to the bevel that will be acceptable visually.

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  • how do I go about pulling out the top step? – David Mar 2 '20 at 3:25
  • If the nosing is a "housed" nosing, as in mortised into the stringers, that will be very difficult to do. If the nosing is part of an older set of stairs and the skirt boards are cut over the treads and nosing, that will also be very difficult to do. It will require cutting it out and replacing it with new, sorry to say. – Jack Mar 2 '20 at 3:51
  • @David - Are the stairs mortised in to the stringers or are the treads simply flush with the stringers? – HoneyDo Mar 2 '20 at 15:19
  • @HoneyDo: truthfully I have no idea how to answer that. Is there a way to know? – David Mar 2 '20 at 18:34
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    Plan B: If you decide to bevel the back edge of the step with a sanding block I would first put something down over the front edge of the flooring to protect it from damage. A mastic trowel or something similar would probably do it. Hold it in place at an angle - handle side down. Use it as a guide to hold the sanding block at an angle and smooth down the back edge of the tread until you get it where you want it. There will still be a rise in the step but you'll significantly reduce the tripping risk. – HoneyDo Mar 2 '20 at 20:24
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If that is real wood (and not laminate), you could sand it down. I would tape off the remaining to avoid accidentally sanding the other planks. However you must have the correct stain color to refinish it.

Removing it, as suggested above, is best. But if you can't remove it due to some constraint, sanding is another option.

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I've never seen stairs that could easily be disassembled in-situ. The treads are usually morticed into the stringers, then glued and wedged into place, along with the risers with which they interlock, starting at the top and ending at the bottom, so disassembly would be in the opposite order requiring access to bottom riser from below.(assembly is done in the joinery factory then the assembled stairs are connected to the framing).

The best fix is probably to raise the hardwood flooring and pack under it with building paper (etc) until it is level, while the easiest is to plane or sand the top step down until it is level with the floor and then re-finish it.

It may be possible to access the underside of the floor and pry the boards up a little and then hammer wedges in to raise the floor.

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