We Install Staircases
The staircase is a focal point of any home and I treat my staircases as if they are a sculpture, and my finished treads & risers are of furniture quality.
Great care is taken in the selection of material for treads. The material is special ordered from the mill to suit the length and character for the treads to be built. Each tread is one board reversed on its self so the tread appears to be one solid board, rather than the obvious appearance of 3-4 boards glued together with differing grain patterns and colors.
Stair treads should reflect the same appearance or look and feel as your floor does, but many times this is not the case, even with high end flooring, as mills are not set up to distress treads or follow the same character that is given to the floor, so the stairs in many homes are polished and don't appear the same as the floor. This is not the case with my stairs, as I have a small mill and can replicate the texture, color and finish.
As important as the stairs are, I am amazed when I walk into a home and see a floor that was installed correctly and then examine the stairs, wikes! Stair installation is more a task for a finish carpenter, as the tolerance for error is a 64th of an inch, to not draw undo attention. Dissimilar tread preparation is another common mistake made, as installers employ a sanding method different then the method used to sand the floor, resulting in a difference in shade after the application of stain. This most commonly results in stairs that appear darker then the floor. It's very common and unfortunately, homeowner usually just live with it.
Another thing to think about is the use of stair nose, or bull nose, which is a molding piece that is used with flooring planks to make treads. Treads need to be clean, with no but joints of flooring and no molding pieces, as the butt joints and the joint that joins the nosing and flooring tends to clutter the stair space. The space in which your stairs occupy is small and needs to be as open and clean as can be made possible.
My treads are installed tight with a 64th of an inch tolerance; it takes more time with more attempts to achieve this, but that is what is necessary for what is acceptable. If we are installing wood risers, we dado a groove in the bottom of the tread for the riser to join, for a solid finished product, with no squeaks and no possibility of cupping or crowning treads due to extreme climate conditions.
The craftsman approach to stair tread & riser installation is to avoid the use of nails, to eliminate the need for nail hole filler. This is achieved with the use and a 4 minute cure, 3M industrial hot urethane glue, which is used in the nails stead, and coupled with slow curing urethane glue for maximum strength. When you are walking on stairs, your eyes are mostly at your feet, so you see everything, so it's necessary that they are perfect. Because I don't use nails, I don't have to finish them on site, which allows me to have total control of my environment for the finishing process. Because they are finished in my shop, the treads are installed fully cured.
The result of all this meticulously detailed work is a staircase that stands out, and is a work of art to be admired.