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Thread: Stair Question

  1. #1
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    Stair Question

    Some friends bought a two-story house not too long ago, and they're interested in fixing the banged up treads on their stairs. The treads (and risers) are bamboo, and it's primarily the bullnoses on the treads that are banged up. I've never built or removed wooden stairs, so I'm in the dark about repairing them. It looks like the treads are just nailed on with finish nails, with the holes filled afterward. If that's the case, it seems they'd be relatively easy to remove. Am I missing something? (If the treads are tongue and groove, it becomes a bit trickier to remove just the bullnose, of course.)

    Here's a couple of poor phone shots of the stairs in question. Please excuse the cat hair...I was visiting the day before cleaning day:

    Click image for larger version. 

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Name:	Mike and Drea's Stairs 2T 800.jpg 
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    Any advice or suggestions (up to and including "run away") are appreciated.
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  2. #2
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    Vaughn, Is that t&g bamboo flooring? If so, it may be over a plywood substrate, and possibly glued with construction adhesive.
    Can you get at these stairs from underneath to inspect?

    My suggestion would be that unless they are committed to replacing these with something else entirely I would leave them alone. If they are going to rip them up, see if you can get one up with a flat bar, otherwise, nothing a sawzall can't remedy. If the bamboo is set on plywood treads you should be able to just cut the nails where the plywood attaches to the stringers.

    Shouldn't be as bad as it looks!

  3. #3
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    First thing I would do, is lightly tap up on a tread or two and see if they would come loose.


    I am going to agree with Rich, those don't look like standard treads and risers.
    If you don't take pride in your work, life get's pretty boring.

    Rule of thumb is if you donít know what tool to buy next, then you probably donít need it yet.

  4. #4
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    As noted, those are not "normal" treads and risers, so surprises may be lurking. But to my eye, a far easier solution would be some agressive sanding and refinish in place - far easier than removing, replacing, then sanding and finishing in place.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  5. #5
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    Thanks guys. The stairs are indeed bamboo, but I don't know if there's a substrate underneath. I'll ask and find out if there's access under the stairs (and if it's got drywall covering things). I'll also see how serious these friends are about replacing them vs. fixing them in place.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  6. #6
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    If that is indeed bamboo flooring it is most likely only about 3/8 to 1/2" thick. There would have to be something under there to make up the difference

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Soby View Post
    If that is indeed bamboo flooring it is most likely only about 3/8 to 1/2" thick. There would have to be something under there to make up the difference
    Do you think that would put a damper on the idea of aggressive sanding? Some of the dings in the bullnose are in the 1/4" deep range.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    Do you think that would put a damper on the idea of aggressive sanding? Some of the dings in the bullnose are in the 1/4" deep range.
    look very closely at it. The laminations on bamboo are usually pretty thick but I think that 1/4 is wayy tooo much. And that would change your rise on the stair if you were to take that much off of a tread. You can't have a variance of more than 3/16 in 3 treads on a run. It creates a trip hazard.
    With all the stairways I have built over the years I can attest to this first hand I have all the knocks and barked shins to prove it

    If they want to keep the bamboo my suggestion would be to sand them just to smooth and fill the major dings. colored epoxy or a burn in kit would work well then sand flush and finish. If you are applying any type of stain to the treads then make your filler the color of the stained bamboo.

    If it is only the bullnose that is damaged you may be able to pick up a piece and match it at a local flooring store. That should be a standard molding that would be used in a hallway where the floor meets the top of a stair.

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