How to install pine stair treads

Updated November 21, 2016

A stair tread is the horizontal plank you step on when climbing or descending a staircase. Yours may be worn, stained and scratched beyond repair. If refinishing or recovering the treads isn't an option, replace them. If you want to use pine, be aware that it is one of the softest flooring woods, and will scratch and dent if the stairs receive hard use. Best when used in informal areas, pine stair treads can offer years of warmth and charm to your home.

Measure the width length and depth of each existing stair tread. No two stairs are perfectly alike, especially if the house is old. Order pine stair treads at your local home improvement centre. They will offer you a standard size, but you may have them custom-cut to your measurements. Number each tread on the bottom as they are cut.

Stain the pine treads to match the risers and other hardwoods in your home. Wipe on stain on with a paintbrush and wipe off excess with a soft cloth, brushing with the pine's natural grain. Let it dry according to label specifications. Scuff the surface with fine-grit sandpaper between coats, applying as many as you need to achieve the desired colour. Finish with several coats of water-based polyurethane to protect against stains and scratches.

Starting with the bottom stair, pry up the old stair treads, one at a time, with a prybar. Many treads are also glued, so this will be a challenge. Use a hammer and chisel to knock them loose if necessary.

Spread a bead of construction glue along the top edge of the riser, the sides and the back of the stair opening. Construction glue comes in tubes designed for this purpose. Fit the pine tread over the old stair and lean on it hard for 30 seconds. Hammer in finishing nails, 3/4-inch from each edge, at 2-inch intervals.

Move on to the next stair, repeating Steps 3 and 4 until you reach the top.


Newly finished stair treads can be slippery, so you may want to consider installing a carpet runner on the new treads for added protection and safety.


Wear soft-soled shoes if you have hardwood surfaces in your home, particularly pine. A pair of high-heeled shoes on an average-sized woman can do a great deal of damage to pine floors in just a day or two.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Stain
  • Paintbrush
  • Soft cloth
  • Polyurethane
  • Prybar
  • Chisel
  • Construction glue
  • Finishing nails
  • Hammer
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