There are many types of stair tread wood available to use with any do-it-yourself stair installation. Each type has benefits and advantages as well as drawbacks. Choose your stair tread wood based on several factors that include style, function and environmental factors.
The solid hardwood stair treads are all-natural treads made from solid wood. There are many varieties in this category including maple, oak, pine and birch. More uncommon varieties include mahogany, walnut and peach wood. Any species of wood used for a stair tread, as long as it is solid wood, falls into this category. The solid wood stair treads are susceptible to expansion and eventually rot over time, but their distinctive natural character appeals to many homeowners. These stair treads require staining and finishing.
Engineered Wood Stair Treads
An engineered stair tread includes pressed fibre board, wood chip boards, MDF and melamine treads. Any combination of wood and fibreglass, or manufactured wood boards, fall under this category as well. These treads combine some of the natural qualities of wood, and have other advantages that are engineered into the board. For instance, fibre board tends to be more resistant to heat and moisture and melamine is easier to stain. It is also ready to use unfinished and does not require stain.
Standard and Return Treads
Treads with returns are another variety of stair tread. They have mitred edges that are called "returns." This design allows them to be installed in a staircase that is "open," or not closed in on either side by a wall. The finished return edge is an aesthetic addition to the wood stair tread. It is typically bevelled with a router. These treads are used only on open staircases. A standard finished tread has a bevelled edge which runs all the way around the stair, as opposed to a straight, flat end which would sit flush up against a wall. Each tread style is common in wood stairs.