Using strip hardwood flooring for treads

Q: I have just completed installing pre-finished strip hardwood flooring and have lots left over. Can I use it for treads on my stairs? From looking around on the Internet it seems special treads that cover the entire width of the stairs are the norm. My stairs are 42″ wide stairs but the longest hardwood strip is about 30″ so there would have to be a joint.

Do you see a problem with this approach other than the aesthetics? In addition, should I stain the nosing before or after installation.

A: You can use the hardwood for the stair treads and risers. It looks much “busier” than going with a solid slab. First you have to cut off the lip or overhang on each tread so that it is flush with the riser below it. Then do the bottom riser first with hardwood, from the floor to the top edge of the riser. This would make the top board flush with the top of the existing tread. Then install the nosing for that tread. From the nosing edge, install the tread back to the next riser and so on until you have the last (upper) riser completed. Use adhesive and nails, especially on the nosing. whether you stain them first is irrelevant, since the stain will wipe off the finished flooring if you happen to get any on it. You will have to be careful with applying the finish though.

Similar Q: My stairs are 41 inches wide. I could use a solid piece of hardwood, but it will force me to open all the boxes to find enough long pieces. Can I use shorter pieces on stairs?

A: You can. It depends the look you want. Refacing stairs with short pieces will present a busy look compared to using solid slabs.