Filling the Gaps: Stair Remodel

If you remember the last time we talked “stairs”, we were left with these huge gaps on the side of each stair- ugh!  I have seen people handle theses gaps in a number of ways.  One that sticks out in my mind is covering it with moldings and sort of wrapping the molding around the stair nose etc.
But I have to admit, I was not a huge fan of the finished look, and I usually LOVE moldings.  But wrapping them just seemed like an after thought, and one of my main wants for our stairs, is that they look like they had always been done properly.  Which means we had to do a little more deconstruction before hand.  (You don’t call me Remodelaholic for nothing!)

When we cleaned up the stairs, we took off each tread and sanded and routed the nose.  Then put them back in place with some screws for a temporary hold.   Later as we finished the project they would be easy to remove when necessary but we could still walk up and down safely -just a little tip in case you are trying this at home, until you are DONE don’t re-glue and nail yet!

Anyway, to fill the gap we started off by adding a diagonal molding that runs just above the nose of each stair tread from the bottom stair to the top.  This created a triangular space above the stair support.  Which meant all we had left to do was fill that space.  We (meaning Justin- good thing someone is really patient in this family!) carefully measured each triangle that was left below the molding and cut out a piece of MDF to fill it up.

Nailed in place it looked like this(below).  We also traded out the molding we had in the pictures above to a simple basically rectangular molding to simplify the profile.

We had to trim or straighten the cuts on some of the treads, but for the most part, this little triangular molding, just filled the existing huge gaps.

When they were all nailed in place, I caulked any gaps, and we installed the risers (even though they will be covered) and painted a few coats of white paint.

Then we screwed the treads back in place  (so we could still move them later if we needed to!)
Finally it looked like this:
And do you want to see a preview of the next post or two?  I am just giddy to almost have this done after 2 years!  By the way, in the picture below, Etta does this new thing.  When I say “Smile”
she closes her eyes really tight it is pretty funny!

In case you want to follow along, check out these posts too:

the plan

post 1: Starting the project!

post 2 : Demo & Rebuilding

post 3: More Rebuilding

post 4 : Filling the gaps

post 5 : Walnut Stain… at last!

post 6 : Adding the Stair Risers, Finishing the Runners

Post 7 : Custom Built Newel Posts

Remodelaholic is written by Cassity and Justin.  Cassity has a degree in interior design and Justin is a landscape architect, so we adore everything that makes up a HOME!  We love to share home remodeling ideas and projects we’re working on. From huge kitchen renovation ideas to small bathroom remodels, there isn’t anything we won’t try to tackle (at least once!).  We are in the midst of our third whole home renovation, so there should be a lot more inspiration coming your way.  We hope that you will stop by often for home design inspiration, tutorials, interior design tips, delicious recipes and what is going on in our family life.

If you like this post please check out these other project updates:


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Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

We love hearing from fellow Remodelaholics, so let us know what you like about this and leave any questions below in the comments. If you've followed a tutorial or been inspired by something you've seen here, we'd love to see pictures! Submit pictures here or by messaging us over on Facebook.

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  1. I am so thankful to have found your ideas on filling stair gaps! My husband has been trying to problem solve this for two weeks. Thank you!!!!