A stair skirt is a neat way to hide the visible parts of your staircase, while providing a decorative focal point. The most popular materials used to build stair skirts are wood, wood slats and fabric. Each material has its own pros and cons.
Build a custom stair skirt to hide the stairs and create a seamless design that flows from floor to ceiling with this easy-to-follow tutorial. Learn how to measure, cut, attach and finish a wooden stair skirt so you can make it as fancy or bare minimum as you like.
A stair skirt can help to make a room look more polished and finished. If you’re planning on painting the stairs, this is the perfect opportunity to add some style to the stairway.
If your home has a staircase, you can improve the look of it by adding a stair skirt. This board runs along the front edge of each stair tread and covers up any gaps between the treads and risers and the floor. You can make skirts out of a variety of materials, such as plywood or MDF (medium-density fiberboard) trimmed with molding, which is what I chose to do. If you’re interested in making this improvement to your staircase, here’s how to do it:
Mark the cutting angle on the stair skirt.
To mark the cutting angle, you need a square and a protractor.
- Use the square to mark the bottom of the stair skirt at an angle that matches your stairs—it’s typically between 4 and 7 degrees, depending on how steep your stairs are (and how much you want to show off).
- Place your marks on either side of the stair stringers (the vertical beams) before cutting them out with a jigsaw or circular saw; then cut through both layers at once with a handsaw or reciprocating saw so that both halves fit together perfectly when you reattach them later on.
Measure and mark the top edge of the stair skirt.
Use the tape measure to measure the distance from the floor to the top tread of your staircase. Make sure you measure across both sides of each stair tread, and record that measurement for each side of your skirt (if necessary).
Next, use your tape measure to measure up from the bottom edge or shoe molding of your stairs until you reach a height equal to one-third of your total measured staircase width plus 1 inch. Mark this point with a pencil on one side of your skirt; repeat this step on all three sides if necessary. If a fourth side is needed, use plywood or another material as needed for support and cut out an additional piece using a circular saw or handsaw.
Calculate the length of each stair skirt section.
Measure the distance from the top of one stair tread to the bottom of another tread. This will be your first measurement.
Next, measure from the top of one stair tread to the bottom of that same stair tread. This is your second measurement.
Finally, calculate which number is larger and subtract it from your first measurement (or add it if it’s smaller). That’s how long you need for your skirt piece.
Cut the stair treads and risers according to your measurements.
The first step in building a stair skirt is to cut the treads and risers according to your measurements.
Stair treads are pieces of wood that sit on top of the stringers, which are horizontal pieces that support the vertical posts. They can be cut using either a circular saw or jigsaw, depending on how large they are and where you’re cutting them from.
Risers are vertical pieces that connect each stair tread and landings together with two vertical supports at either end. These can be cut using either a circular saw or jigsaw depending on how large they are and where you’re cutting them from.
For ease of installation, cut each stair skirt board slightly long, measuring from the high point of the tread up to where you have determined it will contact the riser.
For ease of installation, cut each stair skirt board slightly long, measuring from the high point of the tread up to where you have determined it will contact the riser. This will allow you to trim the skirt to the exact length after it is installed. Once you have assembled your stairway, caulk any cracks and add finish trim as desired. Your stairs will look better if you take a little time to make them look great! You can paint the stairs to match your room or use different colors on each stair. A painted staircase is an attractive way to change things up while still maintaining a unified appearance throughout your home.
Prime and paint all surfaces before attaching boards to one another.
Before you start attaching boards to one another, you’ll want to make sure that all surfaces are primed and painted. This will provide a better surface for paint and make it easier to apply. It also helps prevent the wood from absorbing too much moisture from the carpeting, which could cause warping or breakage later on.
If your stairs are unfinished and need only be sanded down, then begin with this step before painting them as well. If your current stairway has been painted previously but is in otherwise decent condition (that is, there aren’t any serious gouges or holes), then prime over top of the existing coat of paint with a layer that can withstand foot traffic without peeling off immediately upon installation and again before applying a second coat of finish color after installation.
Install a nailer along the back edge of each stair tread. Secure with 2-1/2″ finish nails.
There are four things that you need to make sure of before installing your nailer:
- Make sure the nailer is level. You can use a string level (you won’t need one for every tread, just one for each flight).
- Make sure the nailer is plumb. To do this, slide some scrap wood under the stair treads so they’re a few inches off the floor and snugly against the wall. Then measure from corner to corner using a straightedge and make sure it’s square (if it isn’t, adjust your measurements accordingly). If it’s not square at all, either move the nails closer together or farther apart until they’re even across their length—this will keep them looking nice when they are painted.
- Once those two things are done, install some temporary shims along any gaps between walls or floors so that when we start nailing down our skirt we don’t have any issues with crookedness later on down road and also because screws cause damage over time as well due to how tightly they hold everything in place.
Make sure that all edges are level and plumb before attaching the baseboard to wall and floor surfaces.
Make sure that all edges are level and plumb before attaching the baseboard to wall and floor surfaces. You can use a spirit level to check for level, or a plumb bob to check for plumb. If your baseboard is not level or plumb, use a saw to cut it to size.
Once you have assembled your stairway, caulk any cracks and add finish trim as desired.
Once you have assembled your stairway, caulk any cracks and add finish trim as desired. Caulking is used to fill the gap between the stair treads and risers. Caulking can be used to fill gaps between the stair treads and risers.
Your stairs will look better if you take a little time to make them look great
The steps you take to make your staircase look great will be well worth it.
Your stairs can become a focal point of your home, and they are a great place to add some color. You can decorate the stairway using artwork or other decorations, such as wreaths and garlands. Staircases can also be decorated with plants and flowers.
We hope you found these steps to be helpful and informative. Of course, this is just a general overview of all the steps that could be taken when building a stair skirt for your home. Each project will have its own unique challenges and possibilities, so feel free to experiment and make the stairs of your dreams.