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We had wooden stairs installed, but did not have any frame installed beforehand. We’d like to make this look better. Looking for ideas and suggestions.

enter image description here

  • In my opinion, almost anything you add will make this area more conspicuous. It's not bad as it is. – isherwood May 29 at 15:59
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You could apply "base" or "shoe" molding, but that will take up some of the stair tread width, so it might become a trip hazard.

You could apply some caulk, but if it's not done by someone with a lot of experience, it could end up looking messy (a dark caulk to blend into the tread/riser color will show any inconsistency or irregularity in the edge against the white wall, the opposite for a white caulk showing against the dark tread/riser).

Or, you could just leave it as is. If all of the installation was done that neatly, I'd say it was done very well indeed! Honestly, it's hard to tell if the treads were butted up to the wall or if the wall was brought down against the treads.

One question - the edge of the tread is currently unstained. I actually like this look - it provides a nice contrast (especially in a low light situation) for finding the edge of the tread and probably makes it a little safer. However, it appears that the edge is cut square. Usually a bull nose (round-over) is applied to the edge of the tread to provide a more decorative and slightly safer step edge. Are you planning on adding a bull nose? If so, that will be much more difficult to apply trim around.

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  • I took a photo of a good section. There are others where the finish looks terrible. Wooden flooring was used, so the width of the wood needed to be trimmed, so our flooring guy rounded it off. – Tchai Quentin May 29 at 19:51
  • That's a shame, @TchaiQuentin. The workmanship here is excellent, too bad that seems to have been a happy accident instead of the expected standard. Just as a tip, showing the poor section may have been more helpful so as to eliminate this confusion. I'd suggest some sort of a small base molding - something that would dress it up and hide the gaps while not calling too much attention to itself. I'd suggest you'd want to finish it in the same dark colored stain as the treads. – FreeMan Jun 1 at 11:50
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There are 2 typical ways to neaten things like this up:

  1. Trim: thin pieces of wood or plastic cut into short pieces that fit in the treads and risers, tight to the wall. These can be painted or if it is wood, varnished. Pros: looks good, Cons: material cost, requires tools and expertise to look good, installation time
  2. Caulk/mastic/silicone bead: gel sealants which are squeezed from a long tube in a continuous line that would trace the contour of the stairs between the stair and the wall. Pros: looks decent, cheap, fast and requires few tools. Cons: Not as nice looking as trim, only covers the crack between the tread and the stair, does not cover up the wall above the tread

You have a challenging set of stairs to trim because the front of the stair is curved, so any trim would need to match that contour exactly in order to look good. This can be done with the right tools, it's just a matter of expertise. Some sort of sealant bead would be a much simpler and cheaper solution, I would suggest paying someone to do it as they will do a better job of it.

Note: the above assumes you want to keep the look of the wooden stairs, if not you could carpet them up to the wall. If you do plan to carpet them nothing else is necessary.

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  • jinx! I agree that there's usually a bull nose on the tread. The one above the highlighted one looks rounded, but the highlighted one looks squared off. I asked about that... – FreeMan May 29 at 15:17
  • It's hard to tell from the picture @FreeMan, I think they both look rounded, but it could be an optical illusion. The pictures could be better. – GdD May 29 at 15:19
  • They are both rounded - all were rounded. Just the angle of the image makes it look square. The “roundness” / “squareness” differ in each trim because it was done by hand – Tchai Quentin May 29 at 19:54
  • I don’t plan to carpet them. Caulk would look terrible - I tried and had to remove it. I was trying to find a 1/4 or `1/8 plastic bead of some type and glue it in to the corner. – Tchai Quentin May 29 at 19:56

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