How To Fix Gaps Between Riser And Tread?

Gaps between the riser and tread do not only make your stairs ugly but also make them unsafe. Are you looking for ways to repair your stairs? You don't have to redo your stairs to correct these gaps. We have researched ways to fix this issue to help you out.

Typically, you can fix the gaps between treads and risers using the following methods:

  1. Add Quarter Round, Shoe, Or Cove Moldings
  2. Use Wood Inserts Or Trims
  3. Use Retro Fit Stairs
  4. Put Wood Fillers

Large gaps may not be as easy to repair, but it is doable. This post will discuss how to properly fix those openings between the stair tread and the riser. Continue reading to find more details on this topic.

Professional installation of a flight of stairs, How To Fix Gaps Between Riser And Tread?

1. Use Quarter Round, Shoe, or Cove Moldings

Here are the steps in adding moldings to cover and fix the gaps on your stair's tread and riser.

Sanding the Stairs

worker hand sanding wooden stairs using powertool

If your stairs used to be covered with carpets. The imperfections will show when you remove the cover. Sometimes, carpets are not only used to avoid slippery stairs but also to cover installation defects.

Before you can do anything, you have to sand the surface first. Hand sanders will be good for the nooks and crannies of the stairs. However, using a random orbit sander for sanding treads will be better.

Click here to see this random orbit sander on Amazon.

Prepare Your Shoe Molding

Roll of self adhesive gold decorative moulding

Shoe moldings are often used to conceal transitions on floorings. But you can also hide not-so-wide gaps between the stair riser and the tread.

You can buy moldings of different sizes from hardware stores. This is a good fix for gaps between treads and risers because you can choose from various lengths and widths.

There are wood moldings and flexible ones that scissors can cut.

Click here to see this molding on Amazon.

Measure the width of the stairs and cut the molding to fit it between the tread and the riser.

Attach The Molding

There are some moldings with adhesive, like the sample above. In this case, you just need to peel and stick the molding to the gaps. Since you're sealing a gap between the stair tread and the riser, it will be better to strengthen the hold by adding glue.

Let It Dry

When the molding is dry, you can repaint it and the other parts of the stairs, and the issue is fixed. 

Some quarter rounds are stainable and paintable, so you can get those if you don't want the usual white ones.

Attach The Molding On All Steps

Take note that if you decide on using shoe molding to cover the gaps, use it on all the steps of the stair, even those without gaps, to create uniformity.

2. Use Wood Inserts Or Trims

A wider gap between the tread and the riser may not be solved by simply adding shoe molding or caulking. In this case, you can buy plywood to serve as a new riser.

Measure The Inserts

The thickness of the plywood will depend on the thread nosing. The new riser should not be thicker than the tread nosing.

Measure the height and width of each riser. The aim is to add these risers on all your stairs, even those without gaps.

Cut The Insert

When you have the correct measurements, you can now cut the plywood or the trim that you'll attach to the riser. A miter or table saw is good with precision cutting, so if you can get a hold of any of these, it'll be better.

Fit Each Cut Plywood On Each Riser

Remember to put the inserts on all the risers of the stairs, whether there is a gap or not. This will create consistency on your stairs.

Glue The Insert

Use wood glue to attach the new riser. You can also reinforce this with nails or screws for better adhesion, but you have to use wood fillers to hide the screw and nail heads so they won't be an eyesore.  

Paint The Stairs

Hardwood Floor Installation On Stairs, Caulking Gun On Step, Baseboards Being Measured

Paint will beautify the newly installed riser and hide any other imperfections the stairs may have.

3. Use Retro Fit Stair Parts

Retrofit parts are used to be placed on top of the existing stairs. Usually, these are used for remodeling. Those who want to upgrade their stairs often use these. Of course, retrofit stair parts are also useful to fix gaps between the riser and the tread.

Choose A Retro Fit Stair Part

When you go to hardware stores or even online, you can choose various colors of retrofit stair parts. Look for something that will match your flooring if you do not intend to paint the stairs.

Click here to see this retrofit tread on Amazon.

Take Note Of the Measurements

An important aspect of choosing a retrofit stair part is taking the measurements. If the size is correct, you don't have to worry about buying too little or too much.

To install these parts, measure each tread and riser. It is helpful to have a stair tread template as it helps in laying out treads and risers perfectly.

Click here to see this stair tread template set on Amazon.

Mark And Cut The Nose Of The Tread

Use a measuring tape to take the depth of the overhang and mark it on top of the tread, so you know where to cut. With a ruler or even a straight piece of wood, draw a line on the surface of the old tread.

With a circular saw, cut the old tread's nosing. A circular saw has a depth guard with helps you cut along the lines. The retrofit tread already comes with a bullnose, so it won't fit if you won't cut the part. 

Clean The Stairs

Once measurements are completed, clean each tread and riser. Make sure that there is no debris or any staples left if you have carpets before. This ensures that the new thread and riser will fit the old ones.

Put Adhesive

Use wood adhesive to glue the parts, and then reinforce the adhesion with screws or nails. Naturally, the nail and screw heads will be visible, so use a stainable wood filler to cover them.

Click here to see this wood glue on Amazon.

If there are small gaps on the seams, use caulk to seal them.

Advantages Of Retrofit Stairs

Wooden staircase, Solid oak wood flooring

Retrofit stairs come with some advantages. These are very convenient because they are premade, and you must measure each piece correctly to fit your stairs. Sometimes you just have to cut a small portion for fitting.

If you don't want to tear out the stairs entirely, you can go with premade or retrofit stair parts. These will save you time, as you don't need to remove the stairs.

Installment is also easy. You don't have to hire a professional, so you can also save on professional fees.

These parts are sold separately or in a set. So if you only need to buy the riser to cover the gap, you may do so.

4. Put Wood Fillers

A worker applying wood filler to the wood to remove holes from a wood surface

Wood fillers are strong enough to cover big holes or gaps, but not all types are good for filling large gaps. 

You can make your own wood filler so you know which sawdust to use and match your wooden stairs, or you can conveniently use a two-part epoxy wood filler.

This type of wood filler does not shrink, so you won't see the voids again in case the wooden stairs shrink.

It is also stainable, so that you can conceal it after the repair. When it sets and cures, it is hard enough to hold a screw.

These steps will guide you in using wood fillers to seal the gap between the tread and the riser.

Prepare The Area

Clean the stair of any dirt or debris. Wipe the stairs with a damp cloth. These specks of dirt hinder the wood filler from doing its job.

Apply Wood Filler

An epoxy wood filler has two parts, the resin and the hardener. On a non-porous material, mix these two together. Be careful not to mix too much.

Epoxy wood filler hardens fast, and if you don't apply then within minutes, they're not pliable anymore.

Click here to see this two-part epoxy wood filler on Amazon.

Let It Dry

Wood filler's drying time differs from each brand, so consult the label for this. There are also instructions on how to dry it. These are all included in the label.

Sand The Filler

For a smooth surface, sand the filler before you paint or stain it. 

Why Are There Gaps Between Treads and Riser?

Sometimes those gaps between treads and risers may result from poor installation. Most of the time, it is caused by the shifting of wood.

Small gaps may be repaired by using wood fillers or even caulks. Larger gaps will need inserts to be fixed.

In Closing

Professional installation of a flight of stairs

Gaps between the stair tread and the riser are unsightly. They can also cause safety issues, so fixing those gaps are necessary. 

Good thing you can do the repair without having to get a professional. Follow the methods and steps above to ensure your stairs w look new.

If you found this post helpful, check out these other posts: 

How To Fix Squeaky Stairs In 5 Simple Steps

10 Types Of Stairs To Know

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