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Q: One visitor asked, "I saw on one site a before and after of construction grade stair treads and risers covered simply with wood veneer plus three coats of poly. It looked fantastic on the website but is this a practical application for durability? What steps are involved in covering stair treads and risers in veneer?"

A: The first problem I see with using veneer on treads is this: If for any reason there is need to sand the tread (s) then you can't do it. If you ding them, dent them, chip them etc., how can you fix it? Veneer is ok for the risers.
There are 2 ways to have hardwood steps when the existing is construction grade pine. You can install solid hardwood strip or solid slabs. In either case the existing outer lip must be cut back flush with the riser below. If you cut veneer for the risers, you may have to install a small cove mold under the new tread overhanging lip. (depends how close of a cut you are able to make, whether there is a tiny gap or not). If you did the hardwood method (which is good but looks very busy) you need to cut off all the existing overhang from the current treads. then, start by installing the hardwood on the bottom riser from the floor to the top edge of the tread above. (in this case don't forget to add the thickness of the wood that is going on the tread). then install an appropriate nosing and install hardwood on the first tread. Then the riser and on up until you reach the top.

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