Floor Talk With Wayne Highlander

Installing Boxed In Stair Treads

The method I’m going to talk about allows you to easily cut and install on site or take templates home to cut and finish in your own shop. After following these steps, you should be prepared to bring your treads back to the jobsite and accurately install them in a matter of minutes.

How to make custom treads:

  • Start with 1/8” inch Masonite and rip it into 2″ wide pieces on the table saw.
  • If your treads are roughly 39 1/2″ inches then cut the Masonite about an inch shorter. This step does not have to be accurate and you can cut several at once with a chop saw.
  • Next, cut several more Masonite pieces about 12″ in length.
  • Place one of the long pieces to the back of the tread, and place a 12″ piece at each end on top, following the angle of the wall.
  • Take a hot glue gun and apply a little glue to each 12″ piece where it sits on top of the longer piece.
  • After you give the glue a few seconds to set up, you’ll be left with perfectly accurate templates.
  • When gluing your treads down, you can also help prevent cupping and increase adhesion to the substrate by adding a kerf cut along the underside of your treads.

Landing strip or bull noses usually come in either 3 1/2″ or 5″ widths, but there are situations where it may help to create your own widths. For those situations, follow these steps:

How to make custom bull Noses:

  • Start by ripping 1/4″ inch stock into a 1 ½” inch wide piece.
  • Epoxy it to the end of a board and clamp it down until it adheres.
  • You can put pin nails in it, but keep the nails away from the ends.
  • When the epoxy sets up, take a router with a 3/4” inch round over-bite and make a couple passes.
  • Flip it over and do the same on the other side.
  • Once you’ve done this, make a couple passes with an oscillating sander.
  • You have now created a custom bull nose to the exact measurement you desire!

Helpful Bonus Tips:

  • Be sure to label your templates accordingly before taking them home.
  • If treads are prefinished, use a rubber mallet to tap them in.