A broken stair tread, the top surface of the step, can be difficult but not impossible to repair. Still, with the right techniques a single stair can be replaced. Details like floor covering and stair rail spindles make the task more difficult. Do-it-yourselfers should assess the entire situation before undertaking the project.
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Getting to the Problem
Remove the carpet or other floor covering from the steps, if necessary, to check the status of the steps. Damage to a stair tread is obvious in bare wood stairs but must be uncovered if the stairs are covered. If you are sure the problem is a single step, the carpet can be cut on the riser -- the vertical portion of the step -- above and below the step. The carpet can be stapled in place after the project.
Assessing the Damage
Look for cracks or breaks in the wood or rot. Rot problems are more commonly associated with basement stairs, especially if the space has experienced humidity problems. Check the nails or screws that hold the stair treads to the stringers. If the stair tread shows any level of damage that makes the board's ability to carry a person's weight questionable, it should be replaced.
Removing the Tread
Remove the tread by prying free any nails holding the board in place or by removing any screws. Remove any banister or railing support that attaches to the stair tread. Pull the board free of the stringers. You should also notify family members and anyone else who may use the stairs that there is an open step.
Replacing the Tread
Only replace the stair tread with a board of identical thickness to keep the stairs uniform. You'll need to replace the carpet, banister supports or any other stair components removed during the process in as uniform a manner as possible.
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