Is There Anything I Can Do To Prevent Stair Treads From Warping, Twisting or Cracking?

Yes, don't build the stairway or use any type of material that will twist, warp or crack. Let's face it, lumber contracts when dry and expands when wet and building materials that do this, could end up twisting into a variety of different shapes.

Now for the good news, there are a few tricks you can do to reduce the chances of your deck staircase treads warping and suffering the consequences mother nature has laid in front of you.

When selecting lumber for your stairway and stair treads, make sure you find the best possible pieces of lumber to use, by following these rules.

1. No large knots, anything larger than an inch and a half in diameter, could become a problem in the future. Anything larger than 3 inches, has a better chance of becoming a bigger problem and should be avoided at all costs.

2. Use kiln dried lumber or lumber with a low moisture content. Most construction standard lumber hasn't been dried thoroughly and can twist, crack and warp, once it dries.

3. Look for lumber that isn't cracked or damaged. Now what if you find a nice board, but it has cracks at the end that can be cut off? Then get it, as long as it meets the other lumber selection qualifications. Cracks at the end of lumber that can be cut off, usually won't be a problem. I know plenty of stair builders who need 12 foot lengths of lumber and end up purchasing 14 footers instead, to eliminate this problem.

4. Try to avoid using center cut lumber. This would be any lumber that was cut from the center of the tree.

Now for the biggie, after you have installed your stair treads, they will need to be maintained. Any type of sealer, additive or paint that will be applied to the exterior stairway, should be maintained.

Most of the warped, twisted or cracked stair treads I've either removed or replaced have more to do with poor maintenance and lumber selection than anything else.

Back To - Building Stair Questions
Back To - Deck And Porch Stairway Questions And Answers

Feel free to email us with your questions. (Go to bottom of page and click on contact for email address.)