I'm refinishing these old stairs and I'm looking for a way to eliminate the gap between tread and riser. I don't have access to the underside. enter image description here

  • The threads might be able to be taken off and pushed back tighter to the risers. Closing the gap between the riser and thread will probably be much harder, if the riser cannot be taken off to be place higher. A picture showing more of the staircase will help. Also how you want to refinish. With paint you can use a wood filler or paintable caulking, stain/clear finish is harder to cover/hide.
    – crip659
    Apr 19, 2023 at 16:38
  • What about using small quarter round or cove trim to simply hide it? Apr 19, 2023 at 17:11
  • Are the treads lifting from the risers as well? If so, then you could make a thin deep L with a gentle 90 degree twist in it to slide under the tread and pull the riser from the back. Glue and clamp...
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 19, 2023 at 17:25
  • @crip659 Don'tcha hate auto-incorrect, and wish they let us fix typos in comments? "Tread", not thread, of course.
    – keshlam
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:23
  • @keshlam I wish I could blame auto-correct this time. Must have (loosed?)screws on my mind.
    – crip659
    Apr 19, 2023 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


Are you planning on (or able to) removing the treads during your refinish? If so, that's the obvious time to address it.

If not, and the riser and tread are both solid (no bounce, wiggle or squeaks) I would put a piece of trim on the riser to cover the gap, similar to a baseboard along a wall.

My personal preference would be using a piece wide enough to cover the entire height of the riser.

An added bonus might be being able to sand and finish the trim piece before installing it, rather than sanding, staining and finishing the riser in place.

  • 3
    Of course a piece of trim large enough to cover the entire riser might be more correctly called a facing... but that certainly is a legitimate solution. As always, the hardest part will be either matching the existing finish or deciding what looks good as a deliberate mismatch. Though frankly, I think refinishing might be enough of an improvement that nobody's going to look for/notice that gap, especially since it will probably darken the wood a bit and reduce the shadow's contrast with wood.
    – keshlam
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:28
  • I'm not planning to remove the treads no. Although I may use your solution on some of the bottom risers. The three risers closest to the bottom were replaced at some point and instead of antique pine they are paint grade birch or poplar Apr 19, 2023 at 23:44

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