Large gaps between the wall molding and steps/risers

Q: We took rugs off our stairs. There are large gaps between the wall molding and steps/risers. Also, the risers aren’t wood, so we will probably paint them the color of the off-white trim. Evidently, the steps never slid into the wall molding like most steps and now my husband wants to put trim on each step to fill in the gap. The gaps are all uneven.

We are disagreeing about this because I think it will look too tacky. I told him to leave it alone and that’s the beauty of an old home, but he doesn’t want to.

A: The best way to fix gaps in molding along stairs is to open the wall/ceiling behind the steps and knock the risers back into place. It is likely that the risers have moved over years of being kicked. This would also afford opportunity to tighten up the treads or steps. It wouldn’t cost much to close the wall back in after. A couple of sheets of drywall and a bucket of compound.

Related Q: I’m pulling up the carpet on my steps, and I’m planning to stain the steps. It turns out there are big gaps in between each of the steps. What can I do to cover the gaps?

A: It sounds like over time the risers have been kicked and kicked until they loosened and got pushed back along the bottom edge. Hence the gap.

The best way to fix it is to open up the wall behind the stair case and bang them back against the treads. Otherwise you will have to use some type of trim, 1/4 round or cove mold for example. You could try driving a screw part way into the riser and see if you could pull the riser forward and then fill the small hole.