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.
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.
There are 2 typical ways to neaten things like this up:
- 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
- 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.