By Ela Schwartz

Even the most seemingly simple staircase is a model of fine craftsmanship. Staircases consist of treads (the horizontal pieces you step on) that are connected to risers (the vertical toe kicks). Treads and risers connect to stringers along the sides of the staircase.

With all those pieces of wood working together, there are bound to be some problems over time. Nails loosen, and wood shrinks and expands due to seasonal fluctuations in temperature. Squeaks usually come from the front of the tread rubbing against the adjoining riser below.

Luckily, a squeaky stair is easy to fix.



Carpenter’s glue

Two to three 1-inch by 3-inch wooden wedges, also called shims

Thin pry bar

Six 2-inch brads (or finishing nails, to make the repair less visible than a regular nail)

Thin drill

1/16-inch drill bits (diameter of the drill bit must be smaller than the brad)


1.    Open a gap.

If the stairs are carpeted, remove the carpeting. Use the pry bar to pry open a gap between the tread and the riser. With a hammer, lightly tap wooden shims into the gap to open it further.

2.    Add glue.

Apply carpenter’s glue into the gap between the riser and the tread of the squeaky stair. Remove the wedges -- either by tapping side to side with the hammer or pulling out by hand.

3.    Drill pilot holes.

Drilling pilot holes first will prevent the brads from splitting the tread. You will be drilling three pairs of pilot holes at the left, center and right of the tread. Drill directly over but not into the riser. Drill one hole at a 45-degree angle leaning to the right. About 3 inches away, drill the adjacent hole at a 45-degree angle leaning to the left so the two holes form a V. Repeat the pattern with the next two sets of pilot holes.

4.    Nail it down.

Nail a brad into the first pilot hole, following the same 45-degree angle so the brad goes through the tread and into the riser. Repeat with the next brad in the adjoining hole. Repeat, tapping two more nails into the next two sets of holes so there are three sets of two nails forming a V.

Ela Schwartz is a writer specializing in home furnishing and remodeling for such publications as Kitchen Portfolio, the New York Daily News and At Home Long Island. She has written the book B&N Basics Home Renovation and has been the proud owner of a high-efficiency washer for several years.

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