We have wooden basement stairs that are probably 20+ years old and several of the treads are starting to split down the middle (underneath) lengthwise.

I'm debating replacing the cracked ones or just replacing all of them, but I'm having a tough time figuring out what would the treads are made of:

enter image description here

In case I decide to replace the cracked ones, I'd like the replacements to be the same type of wood as the others, so it looks more or less consistent (I understand new boards will not be as faded as older ones, but they'll still be the same type of wood, have the same grains, patterns, etc.). Any ideas what wood those treads are made from?

In case I decide the to replace all of them, I'm interested in what type of wood (and dimension) is generally recommended for basement stairs. The existing treads measure 1 1/2" x 9 1/4" so I'm guessing they're all 2x10s.

If you notice in the photo there are also no risers and I'd like to add some. Any recommendation for type of wood (and dimension) that are recommended for risers?

Thanks in advance!

  • 2
    It's probably nominal 2x10 generic pine (Douglas Fir).
    – MonkeyZeus
    Dec 29, 2020 at 18:01
  • Risers? Do you mean a "toe kick"? 1/2 inch plywood or thicker would suffice.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Dec 29, 2020 at 18:04
  • Identifying wood species, especially from a tiny picture, is difficult. So difficult that it's off-topic at Woodworking. Therefore, don't expect a 100% accurate answer here, either. However, it probably is just SPF that has been stained and worn over the years. Those do look like "utility" grade stairs (i.e. nothing fancy) and that's the most likely choice because it's cheap.
    – FreeMan
    Dec 29, 2020 at 18:44
  • what is preventing you from going to a building supply store and comparing wood pattern on the lumber?
    – jsotola
    Dec 29, 2020 at 19:11
  • @MonkeyZeus, "toe kick" isn't a term that should ever be used in carpentry. This question refers correctly to risers. Cabinet bases are also sometimes referred to as toe kicks by laypeople.
    – isherwood
    Dec 29, 2020 at 19:11

1 Answer 1


The wood looks like and probably is fir or pine. This is typical in many basements and transitional areas from house to garage for example where only a short stair is needed. It's hard to tell from the pic how long those stairs are.

In any event, if you decide to replace them there are code requirements that need to be met. Although they vary somewhat by jurisdiction below is a typical configuration that I believe will meet code in most areas - but you want to check locally before you build.

If you decide to repair the steps and want to add risers you do need to make sure that you don't compromise tread depth/run to less than that required.

Additionally, you will want to maintain 1" nosing on the stairs. You can use fir for the risers or 1/2" plywood is also suitable.
enter image description here


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