enter image description hereenter image description hereI am having our oak stairs refinishedby professionals. Before that happens, I am replacing the entire banister and balustrades. The bottom 2 stair treads need to be replaced because the banister was notched into one and the last one has a curved edge and we want to square it out. The treads go UNDER the stair skirt. I have attempted to get the tread off but am having difficulty getting it out from under the skirt. Is there a trick to this or do i really have to take the skirt off first- hoping to not have to do that...

  • How old is the house? And a picture would help....
    – Jack
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 2:09
  • It is definitely the skirt and not the stringer - I'm trying to figure out how to upload a photo - new to this site
    – Beth
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 3:03
  • The house is 40 plus years old - the treads are 10 inches deep _ thats prob a good indication
    – Beth
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 3:04
  • Any help on uploading a photo that i have saved ?
    – Beth
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 3:06

2 Answers 2


The skirt board will be difficult to keep intact by removing it. In an older house, the treads will be face nailed through the top surface, most likely in 3 different rows, 1 at each edge and a row in the middle. The best route to take is to split the tread lengthways to reduce it to narrower widths to pull smaller pieces from around the nails that are holding it in place. There is a strong chance there will be a few nails going into the riser as well, split the tread there first and release those nails, and pull them out. Split the tread next where the next line of nails are and remove that one and its nails. Do this until you get about 1 1/2" from the riser going up, you may have noticed by now that there are nails going into the back edge of the tread. Carefully pry the last piece off and rotate it out of the pocket left by the notched skirt board. You may be able to back these nails out with a hammer, but you may be able to cut them off and set the remaining "nub" below the surface with a nail set. This should cleaned down to the bare wood so the new tread will be glued to this, and the left over nail shanks will get in the way.

Another method to use, which is a blend of what I described above and another technique is after the nails in the riser at the front of the tread are found and removed, locate all the nails, or at least some of them, and using a nailset with the end, the same size as the nail holes, (most nailsets come in 3 different sizes) drive the nailset into the spot where the nails are, setting them deep, very deep... all the way through the tread deep, deep enough to split the tread in the way I described above but not using chisels or prybars, although they may be handy here too. Remove the split wood as it comes loose.

  • As a mention, I would leave the bullnose and center a post on the radius of the round and use a "volute" with up easement, it will "open up" the beginning of the stairs. Less work too
    – Jack
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 14:39
  • Thank you for your help - going to attempt the removal and will consider leaving the bullnose step as mentioned.
    – Beth
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 15:51

if it's a skirt and not just the stringer it will have to come off.

If it's the stringer you'll have to disassemble the stairs from behind. removing the wedges breaking the glue and sliding out the risers and treads.

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