Treads with veneer?

Q: I contracted with someone to install hardwood stairs in my home. The oak stair treads they have purchased for the job are 1 inch thick, and to have a solid inner core, but are covered with a thin veneer (4 mm) of oak. They were bought at a local Home Depot store and HD insists that the treads are the same as getting a normal 1 inch all solid tread.

The installation is being done and I am wondering if the treads will be as durable as the ones that are 100% solid throughout.

A: Not sure what you paid for these, but I would recommend a solid slab without veneer. Steps get major wear, after all. Typical thickness is 1 1/8″ solid oak or maple. The typical tread to fit most boxed staircases is about $40 per tread.

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: I saw on one site a before and after of construction grade stair treads and risers covered simply with wood veneer plus three coats of poly. It looked fantastic on the website, but is this a practical application for durability? What steps are involved in covering stair treads and risers in veneer?

A: The first problem I see with using veneer on treads is this: If for any reason there is a need to sand the tread (s) then you can’t do it. If you ding them, dent them, chip them etc., how can you fix it? Veneer is ok for the risers.

There are 2 ways to have hardwood steps when the existing is construction grade pine. You can install solid hardwood strip or solid slabs. In either case the existing outer lip must be cut back flush with the riser below. If you cut veneer for the risers, you may have to install a small cove mold under the new tread overhanging lip. (depends how close of a cut you are able to make, whether there is a tiny gap or not). If you did the hardwood method (which is good but looks very busy) you need to cut off all the existing overhang from the current treads. then, start by installing the hardwood on the bottom riser from the floor to the top edge of the tread above. (In this case, don’t forget to add the thickness of the wood that is going on the tread). then install an appropriate nosing and install hardwood on the first tread. Then the riser and on up until you reach the top.

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