How to Properly Picture Frame Stair Treads

When build­ing a stair tread, the typ­i­cal method is to sim­ply cut the end to the appro­pri­ate length and mount the piece onto the stairs. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, a com­pos­ite prod­uct can leave an unat­trac­tive appear­ance at the cut edge. Leav­ing this edge expos­es a slop­py, unpro­fes­sion­al appearance.

Stair Treads 2

This prob­lem can be solved using the pic­ture fram­ing” method. With this tech­nique, deck stairs made from com­pos­ite mate­r­i­al can hide their cut edges and main­tain an ele­gant appeal that shows pride in craftsmanship.

Step by Step: How to Build a Better Stair Tread

To start the process, you first need an impact dri­ver, a drill (prefer­ably cord­ed), screws made for cap com­pos­ite deck­ing mate­r­i­al, a miter saw, and a tape mea­sure. You’ll also need stan­dard safe­ty equip­ment, includ­ing safe­ty glasses.

Note: Through­out the process, check the video from Gray Daley for visu­al demonstrations.

Step 1: Cut the Stair Pieces

First, you need to cut two deck pieces to the exact length. Cut the pieces at a 45-degree angle on each side. The pieces should be cut so the result is one length short­er than the oth­er. When both pieces are placed togeth­er, there should be a tri­an­gle-shaped notch in the mid­dle, on both ends.

Next, cut two tri­an­gle pieces with a 3/​16th sur­face on the top corner.

Pro Tip:

  • Take care to cut the pieces to exact match­ing lengths to cre­ate a flush, sym­met­ri­cal appearance.

Step 2: Prepare for Connection

Before con­nect­ing the four pieces, drill a small hole for the screws. With a small drill bit (to match the screws) drill a hole at an angle of 15 to 20 degrees, point­ing the hole into the larg­er deck pieces. Now bring the pieces togeth­er and drill a hole, fol­low­ing the orig­i­nal, into the larg­er por­tion of the main board.

Pro Tips:

  • Keep a firm grip when drilling both pieces to pre­vent them from shift­ing out of place.

  • Scrape out debris as soon as possible.

  • Take a screw and push it through the holes to clear any remain­ing debris.

  • It’s impor­tant to drill the holes one at a time to remove any debris that will cause the pieces to sep­a­rate and pre­vent a clean, flush, tight connection.

Step 3: Connection

Now it’s time to con­nect the pieces. Line the small tri­an­gles at the end of the two longer pieces so they come togeth­er to form a rec­tan­gle that cov­ers the stair. Hold firm­ly and screw the four parts so your pic­ture-frame stair tread is ready for place­ment on the steps.

Pro Tip:

  • Dri­ve the screw until the head sits just below the sur­face. Don’t leave it stick­ing out.

Step 4: Placing the Tread

To secure the pic­ture frame stair tread, secure block­ing at each end of the steps. This will cre­ate a plat­form to secure the pic­ture-framed stair tread. Now ori­ent the tread to the struc­ture of the stairs and fas­ten it down with screws.

Stair Treads 1

Pro Tips:

  • Fol­low the screw pat­tern shown in the video (rough­ly 4:25) to ensure that the cor­ner of the tri­an­gle (at the end of the stairs) sits flush with the longer boards.

  • Do not dri­ve any more screws on the end. The pieces have already been attached to cre­ate the pic­ture frame and will hold firm­ly together.

Once com­plete, you have a stair tread that will make a home­own­er proud!

Discover the Best Fasteners for Your Project with FastenMaster

Pic­ture frame stair treads are a fan­tas­tic solu­tion for your project, but it takes the right tools, meth­ods, and fas­ten­ers to see the dream come alive. If you need more tips on deck build­ing, or need the best mate­ri­als for your next project, vis­it Fas­ten­Mas­ter today.