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I'm a homeowner who's building new home and am in the process of finishing drywall against a staircase. We're trying to get the stair treads and risers to meet the drywall seamlessly and without trim or casing.

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In order to accomplish this, ( the drywall below the treads and against the risers ) it seems like tear away bead is the best bet.

Questions

  • Is tear away bead the recommended way to finish the drywall in this use case? If not, is there a better way? There is going to be vibrations from people waking on the steps.

  • Would J bead be more appropriate?

  • I am tempted to just cover the raw drywall edge with quarter-round wood moulding. But if you are set on finishing the drywall then maybe the J channel would be easier to finish. I have the same problem but I haven't gotten back to the stairway yet. – ArchonOSX Jun 9 '16 at 0:32
  • Have you considered Trim-Tex "Super Seal Tear Away L Bead"? It has a gasket that you could caulk nicely. – Aloysius Defenestrate Jun 9 '16 at 13:26
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Since your goal is not to use any trim, we can't cover it up. You need something that will look like drywall after you paint it. If you use joint compound / putties it will crack at the seams if the steps budge/give.

What about paintable caulk? It'll maintain its elasticity so it won't crack, it'll seal the edge, and it'll look like drywall after its painted.

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Really, your situation is no different than thousands of others with drywall under the stair trim. The key difference is that you're trying for a good fit of the drywall against the woodwork. This doesn't mean you're more likely to have cracks if it's done properly.

I would do three things to make this happen:

  1. Be sure the stringer on that face is well supported and completely rigid. Any bounce will result in eventual drywall damage. Fill framing voids with construction adhesive to prevent settling and other movement.

  2. Wrap all edges with standard steel corner bead. Keep it tight against the treads and risers, so any pressure from foot traffic can't move it. Consider embedding those edges in construction adhesive for full support. Be sure that all bead is perfectly level and plumb, as your woodwork will need to fit it exactly. Also make sure it's on plane with the other stringers' surfaces.

  3. Install your treads with a bead of construction adhesive supporting the ends well and transferring load only to lumber, so that no pressure is applied to the corner bead.

Finish the wall using a high-quality compound, possibly a setting type, for maximum crack resistance. I believe that if you do these things you'll have a good outcome.

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What are you doing won't work. The flex in the treads, risers and the outside faces of the drywall will lead to eternal cracking. The only way to do it is to replace the drywall with same thickness plywood (with a finished face).

It's not as hard as you might think. You just need to go slow and use good templating technique. Bevel all the joints with the risers, and glue everything together with a good quality carpenters glue. This way everything can get nailed, backed and glued. This will stop the movement that causes the fracturing.

Then, where the stair stringer face meets the rest of the drywall (after the top stop or whatever) you transition back to drywall. Tape (use self-adherent mesh tape) the plywood-to-drywall joint just like a standard drywall butt joint, and roll a coat of thinned out drywall mud over the plywood to get the same overall surface as the drywall. Sand all and prime/paint like drywall.

I have done many of these over the years, and this is the only way it works long term. There is nothing worse in a modern, clean staircase than having cracks.

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