Q: One visitor asked, "I am having a new 2 story house built. I am installing oak hardwood flooring on the main and upper level. I want to install oak on the stair treads and paint the risers. I am told by the builder that the treads have to be glued in. I would assume removing them and replacing them with oak slabs would be a fun job. Can I simply put oak slabs over the existing tread? Keeping in mind that the height would be increased to the same height as the hardwood flooring at the top and bottom. Also, do I have to cut off the outer lip if I go with a thin stair nosing? If I do have to cut it off, how would you recommend I do it?"

A: I have refaced a number of stair cases with hardwood flooring, including both treads and risers. All things considered, however, any others I do will be with the slab treads instead. The price for materials is nearly the same, but with the slabs, it doesn't look so "busy".
I hope your stair case has boxed in treads, with a stringer on each side, rather than having spindles on each tread. In that case, you would have to remove the spindles for sure. And if the stair case is winding, probably half the treads would have to be custom made.
So, if we are dealing with boxed stairs, you probably have plywood or construction grade pine treads presently. Yes, the outer edge of the tread should be cut back flush with the edge of the riser. So, you will take about 1 1/2" off the outside edge of each tread. You can cut along the edge of the stringer, at the end of each tread with a hand saw. Then you can measure back from the edge whatever distance it is, we will say 1 1/2".
Make a straight line from end to end. Now you have a choice of cutting off the outside edge using a handsaw (painfully slow), a circular saw, jig saw or reciprocating saw. It may help to have each. The circular saw is fast, but will only get you to within about 5 inches of the end of the tread. The rest can be finished with the jig saw or recip. Slabs come in standard sizes of 9 1/4 or 10 1/4, and pick you length:36", 42", 48".
You can apply a good quality wood/carpenters glue to the existing unfinished tread, or use a heavy mastic. Bostik's Best is an excellent urethane adhesive who's bond is described as tenacious. It is a very aggressive adhesive which I am learning to appreciate. And it never becomes brittle. Tack a few nails in to hold it and the glue will do the rest.


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