Stair treads and wood movement
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TideWater



Joined: 03 Aug 2014
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 2:26 am    Post subject: Stair treads and wood movement Reply with quote

I'm replacing the treads on some exterior porch stairs. They're only 25 years old and rotten. For the first set of stairs, I used pressure treated wood, painted all sides, and used screws rather than nails - 2 screws across the width of each board, with a 1/4 inch gap between boards (2 boards per step).

But now I'm wondering if that's the right way to go. Will seasonal expansion/contraction of the wood cause it to crack due to the 2 screws? But if I only use one, will that allow cupping? And while I'm at it, this is a 200 yr old house. Did they even use nails in stairs back then?

Thanks.
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TideWater



Joined: 03 Aug 2014
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well it's been a couple years now since I posted this question. It's amazing how time flies when you're taking care of an old house. It looks like the wood movement hasn't been a problem so far. I have noticed some slight cupping but I'm not sure it wasn't there from the beginning. After doing some more repairs with the same batch of wood (from Lowes) I realized I did a bad job selecting boards. You really have to be careful. The next time I went back for more, I was more selective and realized there was a lot of chaff among the wheat.
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dtotzz



Joined: 04 Mar 2020
Posts: 6
Location: Newmarket, NH

PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2020 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funny that I stumble across this today, when I received John's compendium in the mail yesterday and just read about some advice that will help you out.

You want to choose vertical grain wood, it probably won't be found at Lowe's. Vertical grain wood is more stable and lasts longer, but is more expensive.

Here's a good overview of the differences:
https://www.jascoforestproducts.com/vertical-grain/#:~:text=Edge%20or%20vertical%20grain%20lumber,the%20face%20of%20the%20board.&text=Vertical%20grain%20has%20much%20better,the%20softer%20(spring%20wood).


My parents are restoring a 200 year old home and it has granite and natural stone steps. These would also solve your problems.

My circa 1900 home has poured concrete steps, but these were added in the 1950s/60s. I don't know what my original steps looked like.
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