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How to replace rotted staircases

Deck stair treads, particularly those located at the front of the desk, are prone to falling loose, separating, and even breaking. This handy post will teach you how to repair individual deck stair steps. It will also provide you with excellent advice on how to make deck treads more durable in the future!

Deck stair treads are a major source of wear and tear, as well as a serious safety hazard because the front tread typically overhangs the riser below on most decks. When the deck timber dries out, nails loosen, and can prise up like a seesaw when people stand on the edge of them. Boards can even crack along grain lines and shatter at the front edge due to weight. This can be a large safety issue and its best handled by professional carpenters such as yourself. Make sure to protect yourself and your business with carpenters insurance.

It is more common for front treads to exhibit wear and tear than back treads. However, if the back tread is exhibiting signs of wear and tear, the instructions for this repair apply just as well.

  1. DEMO DECK STAIR TREADS

The most important thing to remember while changing deck stair treads is to proceed with caution. Begin by using a big screwdriver to carefully pry up the board. Don’t use excessive force.

If a board is particularly tight, you may need to shatter it into bits using that same screwdriver and a hammer. Simply insert the screwdriver between the nail heads. This causes the woodgrain surrounding the nail heads to crack, leaving the nails with nowhere to grip, and allowing you to pull the board apart in chunks.

In certain areas, the stair stringer—the structural portion below—is actually quite weak.

When demoing the treads, be very careful not to cause any damage to the stringers.

The stair stringer is in the shape of a sawtooth, and the grain runs diagonally across the saw’s teeth. You want to avoid breaking those diagonal lines since these are the spots where the stair might easily fracture.

Don’t strike them in the side, and don’t put too much pressure on them. In some cases, you may need to use a pry bar if the board requires a little additional effort, but do so as slowly and carefully as possible.

Once the timber is extracted, use a nail remover to carefully pry out any remaining nails. If they don’t appear to be ready to come out, you may need to use a hammer to force them all the way.

Repeat this technique for each tread you’re replacing. While you’re at it, remove any debris that has accumulated around the boards.

2) MEASURE THE NEW DECK STAIR TREAD AND CUT IT

Measure the distance between the stringers on the exterior.

Measure for new treads after the existing ones have worn out. This is something you can do by simply measuring any remaining boards. If that isn’t possible, you can draw from one stringer’s outer edge to the outside edge of another.

Make any cuts with a circular saw. But first, square up the board’s end to make sure it’s straight and neat. You can achieve this by guiding the saw with a speed square. Hold the speed square in place, then guide the sole plate’s edge against it.

Now, you can measure this square end and draw a crows foot mark where you want it. At this stage, use your speed square and pencil to draw a straight line.

Make these cuts with a piece of 2x scrap as a prop block. This raises your saw off the ground and provides some leverage, allowing the board to slide away after the cut to avoid blade binding.

Align the outside of the blade tooth with the plot line again, using the speed square as a reference, and make the cut.

It’s best practice to cut all of the replacement parts at the same time and test their fit on the stair stringers. Once everything is straight, you can attach them.

3) INSTALL NEW DECK TREADS

Basically, you will need to use a combination of screws and glue when changing these front treads.

The fissures in the stringers’ tops will be visible. It is common for nails and screws to separate the end grain and expand these cracks.

As such, you should consider dabbing a tiny amount of glue on the stringer tops. Just enough for the following tread to sink its teeth into it. Make sure you use an extremely strong and fast-bonding glue.

The repair will become more or less permanent with the use of glue. However, it is not likely that the stringers would withstand a second repair. As a result, you can opt to make the treads permanent because you’ll probably need to completely replace the stringer next time it needs repairing.

Push the board down into the bead with a little adhesive, leaving a little 1/8″ space between the two boards.

Next, use screws to hold everything in place. They have a considerably stronger grip than nails. Choose 2-1/2″ screws that have an exterior quality. Pre-drill pilot holes with a 1/8″ bit, aligning them with the stringer’s centre. After that, use an impact driver to drive a screw in and countersink it so that the head is slightly recessed.

4) ADD SOME DECK BOARD SUPPORT

If the tread overhang on the lowest step is more than an inch, it’s practically certain to break.

So, in this circumstance, put a little ledger strip beneath it. For instance, you could use a dog-ear picket. These are 5/8″ thick, which is the perfect thickness.

Tear approximately half of this board down with my table saw set at a 45-degree angle and then cut it to the length of the lowest step. You can then apply glue to the back and top of the piece, press it into position beneath the step’s overhang, and secure it with multiple 2″ brad nails.

When this dries, it will offer that tread a bit more stability, and you can have greater confidence that it will not break or separate over time. The new treads will be ready to stain and weather seal in a few weeks.

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