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Hardwood stair tread cover: which one?

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Hardwood stair tread cover: which one?

I'm planning on pulling out the carpet and installing hardwood tread cover on the stairs between main and second floor of my townhouse. It's L-shaped, with a 3 feet x 3 feet landing at the middle. Total 13 steps. I had originally wanted to use Simple Tread from Alexander Moulding, which is carried by Home Depot. But after I pulled up a bit of the carpet, I discovered that the height of the first step, without the carpet, is 7 inch. The stairs lead to tile floors at the bottom, and I don't want to replace the flooring. So if I put the Simple Tread product on the stairs, the first step would be 8 inches. The rest of the stairs are 7.5 inch in height. A height difference of 0.5 inch between first and second step would not meet code. Now, does this half inch difference really matter?

An alternative solution is the tread cover from Rona, manufactured by Uberhaus Select:
https://www.rona.ca/en/tread-cover-10385000

It's only half inch thick, with "pressed wood" at its center and oak veneer on top. Has anyone used this before? Would 0.5 inch be too thin and break off easily, creating a falling hazard? This tread height would give exactly the same step height for every step.

A third option would be to find a 3/4 inch stair tread cover. I found a few local independent flooring shops that carry them. They're made of solid wood. It would create a 1/4 inch difference between 1st and 2nd step. Edit: Looks like this doesn't meet code either. So Rona it is, until I measure otherwise.

The cost of all three products all seem reasonable, assuming that I don't scrap too many pieces while attempting to do it myself. So it comes down to safety.
Last edited by BlueSolstice on Feb 5th, 2018 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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BlueSolstice wrote:
A third option would be to find a 3/4 inch stair tread cover. I found a few local independent flooring shops that carry them. They're made of solid wood. It would create a 1/4 inch difference between 1st and 2nd step, and meet Ontario code.
Pretty sure code is 3/16 (5mm) not 1/4. I literally just had this conversation with a stair maker this morning.
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Cas77 wrote: Pretty sure code is 3/16 (5mm) not 1/4. I literally just had this conversation with a stair maker this morning.
OK, thank you for the correction. That makes the decision easier, assuming that I measured the first step height without carpet properly.
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I went through it last year and chose 3/4" solid oak. My 1st step is now higher than the rest but I plan to correct it when I re-tile the floor area just before the 1st step.

It's under section 9.8.4.4.
9.8.4.4. Uniformity and Tolerances for Risers and Treads

(1) Except as provided in Sentence (2), risers shall be of uniform height in any one flight with a maximum tolerance of,

(a) 5 mm between adjacent treads or landings, and

(b) 10 mm between the tallest and shortest risers in a flight.
Last edited by bubuski on Feb 5th, 2018 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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BlueSolstice wrote: OK, thank you for the correction. That makes the decision easier, assuming that I measured the first step height without carpet properly.
At the end of the day we're talking 1/16th...which is probably a single pass with a med grit belt sander.
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BlueSolstice wrote: I'm planning on pulling out the carpet and installing hardwood tread cover on the stairs between main and second floor of my townhouse. It's L-shaped, with a 3 feet x 3 feet landing at the middle. Total 13 steps. I had originally wanted to use Simple Tread from Alexander Moulding, which is carried by Home Depot. But after I pulled up a bit of the carpet, I discovered that the height of the first step, without the carpet, is 7 inch. The stairs lead to tile floors at the bottom, and I don't want to replace the flooring. So if I put the Simple Tread product on the stairs, the first step would be 8 inches. The rest of the stairs are 7.5 inch in height. A height difference of 0.5 inch between first and second step would not meet code. Now, does this half inch difference really matter?

An alternative solution is the tread cover from Rona, manufactured by Uberhaus Select:
https://www.rona.ca/en/tread-cover-10385000

It's only half inch thick, with "pressed wood" at its center and oak veneer on top. Has anyone used this before? Would 0.5 inch be too thin and break off easily, creating a falling hazard? This tread height would give exactly the same step height for every step.

A third option would be to find a 3/4 inch stair tread cover. I found a few local independent flooring shops that carry them. They're made of solid wood. It would create a 1/4 inch difference between 1st and 2nd step. Edit: Looks like this doesn't meet code either. So Rona it is, until I measure otherwise.

The cost of all three products all seem reasonable, assuming that I don't scrap too many pieces while attempting to do it myself. So it comes down to safety.
Gosh - I could have written this.

I'm just going through exactly the same exercise.
Only difference is that I'm replacing only six carpeted steps from mid-level to lower level which are straight down and boxed in on both sides.

From the research I did on line, including some older RFD threads, I sort of decided not to go with tread covers but to replace the whole tread.

In the older RFD tread, carpenters strongly recommended against the Simpletread from Alexander Moulding basically saying that the core plywood used is very cheap and soft material that will not stand up to any use.
The other comment was that the treads are not as wide as advertised so they may not even cover the width of the existing tread - measure before you buy.
I actually liked the appearance of that the best since the step is covered with a single piece of veneer.
But it's also the most expensive.

At Rona, the solid oak tread is actually a dollar cheaper than the tread cover - doesn't make any sense to me but that's what was quoted yesterday.
Rona also has a 15% off even this coming weekend so that would be a good time to buy

Lowes also had a veneered tread cover around $20.- but there the veneer was not a single piece and people were complaining that the seams sometimes lifted

In general, I don't really see how these tread covers will work unless the thickness of the cover is the same as the thickness of the carpet that is being removed.
One will always end up with the lowest step being a bit higher and the highest step being a bit lower.

I didn't realize that code allowed such a wide variation - is there something in code defining the tread/riser ratio.
Having built various steps for outdoor decks and patios, getting that ratio right is really critical
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Actually the 1/2 inch tread cover from Rona would be almost exactly the same thickness as my carpet + pad for the stairs going from main floor to second floor. Seems like extra thick carpet was put in place to account for the increased floor height due to the tile floor put in during the last reno. Before that reno 10 years ago, it was probably a very thin carpet.

If the Simple Tread from Alexander Moulding is soft and doesn't stand up to use, the half inch tread cover made from "presswood" is probably worse. I guess I will have to plan to replacing the treads eventually.

If I simply replace the treads, I probably need stair treads that are 1.5 inch thick. Do I need to go to a specialty store for such?
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BlueSolstice wrote: If I simply replace the treads, I probably need stair treads that are 1.5 inch thick. Do I need to go to a specialty store for such?
Why do you think you need treads that are 1.5 inches thick?

I haven't lifted the carpet on my stairs yet but I assume the steps under that are 3/4 inch plywood, so I think the standard 1 1/8 inch solid oak treads would be just fine.
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BlueSolstice wrote: Actually the 1/2 inch tread cover from Rona would be almost exactly the same thickness as my carpet + pad for the stairs going from main floor to second floor. Seems like extra thick carpet was put in place to account for the increased floor height due to the tile floor put in during the last reno. Before that reno 10 years ago, it was probably a very thin carpet.

If the Simple Tread from Alexander Moulding is soft and doesn't stand up to use, the half inch tread cover made from "presswood" is probably worse. I guess I will have to plan to replacing the treads eventually.

If I simply replace the treads, I probably need stair treads that are 1.5 inch thick. Do I need to go to a specialty store for such?


I doubt you'll be able to remove the existing treads and replace with new 1.5" treads.

Stairs are usually built off-site which make them near impossible to take apart without totally destroying it even if they did not use routed stringers. There will also be lots of nails and glue used to fasten it from underneath.

Shop around wood specialty stores(especially in markham). You should be able to source solid oak treads for under $20. Most places charge around $35 per solid oak thread which wont increase the cost much for a single flight of stairs

krs wrote: Why do you think you need treads that are 1.5 inches thick?

I haven't lifted the carpet on my stairs yet but I assume the steps under that are 3/4 inch plywood, so I think the standard 1 1/8 inch solid oak treads would be just fine.
The wood used on my builder grade tread was 1.5" thick soft pine. The larger rectangle treads and landing were 3/4" plywood. All covered with carpet when constructed about 20 yrs ago
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I feel your pain! The previous homeowner thought it was a great idea to take beautiful oak staircase and paint them gloss black!
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[OP]
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bubuski wrote: I doubt you'll be able to remove the existing treads and replace with new 1.5" treads.

Stairs are usually built off-site which make them near impossible to take apart without totally destroying it even if they did not use routed stringers. There will also be lots of nails and glue used to fasten it from underneath.

Shop around wood specialty stores(especially in markham). You should be able to source solid oak treads for under $20. Most places charge around $35 per solid oak thread which wont increase the cost much for a single flight of stairs
I'm in Ottawa, and I already found a few flooring stores that sell solid 3/4" tread. The concern was the height of the first step, as the difference would be 1/4 inch, between first and second step. I guess I can try and find one that's half inch. Not sure if they're available, but I should give that a try.
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Re code:
It's under section 9.8.4.4.
9.8.4.4. Uniformity and Tolerances for Risers and Treads
(1) Except as provided in Sentence (2), risers shall be of uniform height in any one flight with a maximum tolerance of,
(a) 5 mm between adjacent treads or landings, and
(b) 10 mm between the tallest and shortest risers in a flight.


Anyone know when this code was established?

I have a short flight of stairs, 5 steps, that sure don't meet the 5mm requirement.
House was built in 1979

The carpeted 6 steps that I want to change to oak seem to meet code but the existing oak ones do not.
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bubuski wrote: I doubt you'll be able to remove the existing treads and replace with new 1.5" treads.

Stairs are usually built off-site which make them near impossible to take apart without totally destroying it even if they did not use routed stringers. There will also be lots of nails and glue used to fasten it from underneath.
Oh boy - this sounds like a bigger job than I anticipated if I want to replace the complete tread.
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krs wrote: Re code:


Anyone know when this code was established?

I have a short flight of stairs, 5 steps, that sure don't meet the 5mm requirement.
House was built in 1979

The carpeted 6 steps that I want to change to oak seem to meet code but the existing oak ones do not.
A quick look on the internet showed that plenty of people cap their stairs without meeting this code requirement. Since the code is 5mm for adjacent treads, I would probably just sand down the first step slightly, (1/32 of an inch), and make the first step slightly shorter and second step slightly taller, resulting in the height of the two steps differing by only 5mm, once I installed 3/4 inch tread.

3/4 inch treads seem available at many small flooring companies. Don't go to a Mirage dealer. They don't sell stair tread caps.
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BlueSolstice wrote: A quick look on the internet showed that plenty of people cap their stairs without meeting this code requirement. Since the code is 5mm for adjacent treads, I would probably just sand down the first step slightly, (1/32 of an inch), and make the first step slightly shorter and second step slightly taller, resulting in the height of the two steps differing by only 5mm, once I installed 3/4 inch tread.

3/4 inch treads seem available at many small flooring companies. Don't go to a Mirage dealer. They don't sell stair tread caps.
Not sure if code applies to finished versus the unfinished staircase else you would require a permit/inspection every time you replaced your carpet or installed new hardwood?
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BlueSolstice wrote: A quick look on the internet showed that plenty of people cap their stairs without meeting this code requirement. Since the code is 5mm for adjacent treads, I would probably just sand down the first step slightly, (1/32 of an inch), and make the first step slightly shorter and second step slightly taller, resulting in the height of the two steps differing by only 5mm, once I installed 3/4 inch tread.

3/4 inch treads seem available at many small flooring companies. Don't go to a Mirage dealer. They don't sell stair tread caps.
Maybe I wasn't clear ewith my question.

I was wondering about the code requirement for my existing oak stairs not the carpeted ones I want to change to hardwood.
Was that code in place when the house was built - that's what counts for the existing ones

The carpeted ones I want to change to hardwood are much more even from riser to riser and I think meeting the 5mm requirement should be no problem
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krs wrote: Maybe I wasn't clear ewith my question.

I was wondering about the code requirement for my existing oak stairs not the carpeted ones I want to change to hardwood.
Was that code in place when the house was built - that's what counts for the existing ones

The carpeted ones I want to change to hardwood are much more even from riser to riser and I think meeting the 5mm requirement should be no problem
I'm not sure when the code was introduced. Seems like the previous owner at my townhouse took the stair building code seriously, so I probably will take that code seriously as well. So cheap "presswood" tread with oak veneer it is.

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