Before & After: Treads & Risers

The staircase project is finally finished–well, 98 percent finished.

Below is the original 1954 staircase that accessed the cramped attic storage area. The height of the attic ceiling was less than 5 feet high. (Read about it here when I wrote about it last month.)

When we designed the 2-story addition, the architect, Ron Arrighy, said that we could utilize the same staircase to access to the new master bedroom addition.

It was awkward walking up these steps due the pitch. I never saw the hoard that was in the attic space. After John hauled everything out, I walked up the steps and saw the attic empty. I had to crouch over in order to take a look.

Afterwards, John tore the roof off the house for framing the addition. Click here to read.

Remember this? It was scary to have a house without a roof. I was thinking, “Uh oh” what have I gotten myself into! But there was no turning back.

So you can see in this photo where this original staircase ended. It’s to the right where there’s a square opening above the long header. That opening was the opening to the attic area.

And now, in the below photo, the opening leads to the master bedroom which goes 18 feet beyond the back of the original house.

After John cut out the old stair case, he installed three new stringers. It wasn’t easy to measure and cut the stringers. If you ever think you might do a DIY project and haven’t done stringers before, just hire a carpenter. It’s not worth the time and aggravation to do it yourself.

After installing the stringers, John had to finish hanging the Sheetrock to the ceiling in the upstairs hallway. He also had to spackle, sand and prime. This time, the spackling wasn’t any fun. The joint compound had debris, it must have been a bad batch and it was getting on the walls. If this ever happens, take it back and exchange it for a fresh bucket. Sometimes you just get a bad batch. The previous 30 buckets used for the entire house were perfectly fine.

At Home Depot, John purchased pine treads (steps) and cut them to the correct width. We chose pine because my plan is to paint and stencil each riser.

I wrote about stenciling stairs last year. Read about it here. 

If this was the main staircase visible in the living room, we would have chosen oak and stained it. Since this staircase leads to the bedroom, it’s location is upstairs and in a private area so we chose pine, and since they’ll be painted anyway, pine is perfectly fine to use.

For the risers (the vertical pieces of wood above each step/tread), John bought 1×8 SELECT pine which doesn’t have knots–it’s great to stain or paint. Each SELECT 10′ 1×8 board cost $20.

Regular pine is less money but has knots. The knots lend a country/rustic look which is not what we wanted. Additionally, knots are darker when stained. If you don’t want knotty pine, buy knot-free SELECT.

John took this photo standing in the new addition looking down the stairwell. He’s standing in that framed out square in the above roof-less photo.

Downstairs and to the right is the hall bathroom and to the left is the hallway leading to the three other bedrooms.

The last step in finishing this project will be installing the 1×8 material on the left and right where you see gaps between the stairs and wall. And finally, painting the walls with color!


7 thoughts on “Before & After: Treads & Risers

  1. What a “step” in the right direction! Couldn’t help the silly pun, love seeing all the beautiful work, coming along so beautifully!

  2. Isn’t pine soft? Even if it’s painted? Do they not make paint grade birch treads?

    Yes, you have come a long way. Almost ready for color on the walls.

    My, my, my. What is John going to do with all of the time on his hands when the house is done?

    1. The treads are constructed with two pine re-saw layers–they’re not that soft. And they’re not being used in a high traffic area. We installed these same treads on our basement stairs in our previous house and never had an issue with the pine factor.

  3. They look great. I’m anxious to see the last step. We just replaced a similar old stair case and our steps also have gaps on the edges. John is doing an amazing job.

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