You’ve been going up and down those stairs in your house for years, so it’s tempting to think they’re just the same as they always were. But nothing lasts forever, not even the things we mostly take for granted. If you’re starting to hear creaks or seeing cracks in the wood or discoloration, it might be time to change out the treads.

Not to be confused with tire treads, stair treads are the boards across the top of the stair that your feet steps on as you walk up or down. The vertical kick plates between stairs are known as risers, and the saw-tooth shaped pieces supporting the stairs from beneath are stringers. All these pieces need to be fitted tightly together to avoid creaking as the stairs are being used.

If it’s time to address some squeaks, cracks, or other stair problems, it’s a great opportunity to increase their beauty as well. Hardwood stairs with a decorative runner can increase the graciousness of your home. Ranging in price to fit any budget, stair treads can be matched to any decor.

Economical Hardwood

-Poplar Stair Treads: Lightweight, and somewhat soft for a hardwood, poplar is fine-grained in white to yellow-brown. It paints well and is easy to cut.

-Beech Stair Treads: Stronger than oak or maple, beech is typically a reddish-brown wood that is fairly straight-grained.

-Ash Stair Treads: Quite strong, ash is grayish-brown in color and grows all over the USA and Canada.

-Red oak stair treads: Hard, strong, rigid with a pronounced open grain, red oak resists warping. Its reddish color finishes well but is moderately hard to cut.

-Hickory Stair Treads: Very strong, hickory is known for its distinctive look and sharp contrast in light and dark color.

Mid-priced Hardwood

-White Oak Stair Treads: Hard, strong, white oak is open-grained, but not as pronounced as red oak. It resists shrinking and warping, has a golden color, and finishes well.

-Hard Maple Stair Treads: Extremely hard, hard maple pieces with bird’s-eye or wavy grains are highly prized. Its color ranges from reddish to nearly white, and it finishes well.

-Cherry Stair Treads: The beautiful markings in cherry have long fascinated woodworkers. The heartwood varies from light brown to a reddish-brown and will gradually darken over time with exposure to light.

-Walnut Stair Treads: Hard, heavy, extra strong with a fairly pronounced, straight grain, walnut resists warping and shrinking. It is light to dark brown and finishes well.

Luxury Hardwood

-Mahogany Stair Treads: Durable and fine-grained, mahogany resists shrinking, warping, and swelling. It finishes well and is easy to cut.

-Birch Stair Treads: Hard, strong, and fine-grained, birch resists shrinking and warping. It is similar in color to maple and finishes fairly well.

Some other issues to consider in choosing your stair treads:

Turn those irritating squeaks into an occasion for more beauty with restored stair treads. The ‘ups and downs’ in your life will suddenly become a lot better!

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