How To Build Oak Stairs

We decided we wanted to do bigger projects. We have wanted to fix up our house and remodel here and there. We ended up doing a DIY project for our stairs that is going to our second story. We did not have a big budget but we wanted it to look really nice. We came up with a couple of ideas that saved us money and we wanted to share this project with you. All together had roughly 600 dollars in materials.

Here is what we bought-

one 4’ by 8’ sheet of ¾” oak plywood

one 4’ by 8’ sheet of ¼” oak plywood

twelve 1” by 12” oak stair treads

one 12’ trim board

1 quart of stain

1 quart of polyurethane

2 quarts of gloss white Rustoleum oil based paint

Six tubes of liquid nails

Rollers, foam brushes, rags, and paint thinner.

First step: We ripped off all the old carpet. Don’t rip off the carpet on the very top step because you will need to fold that over to tie it into the new stairs to make a seamless transition from carpet to wood.

The next thing We pulled all of the staples out of the old steps that people used to attach the carpet and carpet foam with. This was a wasted step because Mr. PBL ended up pulling these old steps off. They were 2 by 10 boards that were ugly and cut roughly to length. Taking the old steps off was by far the hardest part of this project which Mr. PBL did all of this. They were screwed down and nailed down and some of the screws would not come out so I had to cut them with a reciprocating saw (Sawzall). This is a picture with the steps off.


We could not take the 2 by 10’s off of the bottom riser or bottom step because of how they built the staircase. So we just left them there and put the new floor and steps on top.

We then painted the sides of the stairs before Mr. PBL put the new treads on. This saved a lot of time because I did not have to tape anything, but we did not wait for the paint to fully cure before we put the treads on so Mr.PBL had to do some touch up.

We also pre-stained and painted the stair treads and risers. We left the old 2 by 6 risers that were there and used ¼ “ plywood that I pre-painted with 3 coats of gloss white Rustoleum paint to cover them. We used 3 coats of gloss white Rustoleum oil based paint on everything we painted, and two coats of Minwax stain and two coats of Minwax satin polyurethane for the treads.

Once everything was painted and stained it was time to start installing everything. We used the table saw to rip one of the 2 by 10’s down to a 2 by ½” strip we put at the very top riser. We used this to tie in the wood stairs to the carpet we left in the second story.

We had to measure and cut each individual riser and tread because the staircase was not symmetrical. This is the beauty of working on a 30 plus year old house. We first had to rip the treads down to the correct width. We measured from the riser to 1 inch after to make an overhang on each step of about ¾ inches. The one-inch over hang turns into ¾ of an inch when the riser underneath is installed. Mr.PBL used the table saw to do the ripping of the plywood and the treads and my compound miter saw to cut each to length.

Mr. PBL cut it as close as he could because he didn’t want to have to use trim. A little bit of caulk at the end is all you should need if you take your time and make precise cuts. A good rule of thumb is measure twice and cut once. We used a lot of liquid nails. It is an adhesive that is used in construction and made everything very solid. As a secondary means of fixture we used white paneling nails to hold the riser on and we used these cool counter sinking narrow head deck screws to hold the tread down. They are both almost invisible unless you are really looking for them.

Liquid nail on the back of the ¼ inch plywood we used for the riser. By then you realize that the project has been finally completed.

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