I've got an old house from the 1950 or so, and it's got these old stairs that go up to the attic; they don't appear to be nailed in or anything (unless the nails are really small).

Well the other day the one step caved in and now I'm unsure of how to proceed to fix it (see photos below):

Cracked Stairs

  • It needs to be fixed, better to replace. Pulling up broken piece will show how it is mounted. Think they look like 1 inch thick wood(maybe 3/4 inch actual). Might think about replacing all with 2 inch wood. – crip659 Mar 21 at 14:54
  • Isn't there some access to the under side, where you could take a look at the stringers that support the stairs and maybe see exactly how the treads are attached? – Jimmy Fix-it Mar 21 at 15:56
  • The stair treads will most likely be attached with finish nails. They will come up easily with a pry bar. – Jeff Wheeler Mar 21 at 22:15
  • 1
    i see several common nail heads in the photo. – dandavis Mar 22 at 1:47

If we begin with the assumption that the broken piece is to be replaced, then anything that involves destroying only that one piece is fair game -- unless you'll be wanting to create a careful replica of the broken piece there's little reason to restrict yourself to removing it intact. Open up a hole in that plank so that you can feel and then see into the space and you'll gain understanding of how the builder assembled the stairs.

To open such a hole consider a saw that can do a "plunge cut." This means it can cut into the surface of a board as opposed to beginning at an edge. A reciprocating saw with a hook-tip blade can do this, as can an oscillating multi-tool. Another option is to drill a hole through the board and then use a jigsaw to enlarge the hole.

Things to watch out for:

  • The tread boards could be tongue-and-groove. If so it'll require some care to remove the rear board without damaging the front board.
  • The riser board is likely to overlap the broken rear tread board. You might have to cut the tread board into pieces that can be slid out from beneath the riser.

As you remove more pieces of the tread board it'll become more clear how the board was secured and which other pieces, if any, will have to be removed to make a good repair possible.

  • Heck, a couple of applications of a hammer would probably knock that broken piece out, creating the hole you're after. – FreeMan Apr 21 at 15:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.