How to Fix a Gap Between Stair Tread and Wall?

Built a house on my own after six years of working. It was big, got stairs in it as it was a duplex. We were excited about having a stair in our house and using it to go to rooms. But one day, we saw specific gaps at the side stairs. 

It was between the wall and the stair. The stair that was supposed to remain aligned with the wall had a small gap.

Tension arose, and the focus was on how to fix a gap between a stair and tread and a wall and, accordingly, the rest. 

Consulting it with my friends, I figured out the problem: improper caulking. And thus, I had to caulk it accordingly to fix it. If you want, you can even putty the stair if it is a wooden one. It does help. 

Not clear within the lines. Let’s do it further in the article. Also, you’ll know some questions in bonus that might help you clarify this topic’s perception further.

Fix a Gap Between Stair Tread and Wall

Why Do Stairs Have Gaps?

Stair gaps are mostly left during construction to provide room for future expansion. 1/4 –inch is a standard expansion gap usually maintained for stairs. It is left between each end of the tread, nosing, and walls. 

On the other hand, stair gaps are also provided these days for easy casting. As most stairs are made of concrete, and concrete needs shuttering for casting, you must provide a minimum gap to cast them properly.

Stair gaps can also occur due to faulty installation. If the bracing of the staircase is not done correctly, you may notice a gap where the riser meets the top of the stair tread.

Identifying the Problem

Stair gaps between the tread and nose of the stair are not at all desirable. Its uneven surface is hazardous for the user. It can lead to dangerous accidents at times. 

The rough edges of the gaps can hurt you. On the other hand, the uneven surface can cause you to trip or slip if you are not being careful.

How do You Fill the Gap Between Stair Treads and Walls?

There are many conventional and effective ways to fill the gaps between stair treads and walls. Some of them are discussed below:

Method 1: Caulking the stair (Time Saving)

Things you will need:

  • Caulk gun
  • Utility knife
  • Multi-surface painting tape
  • Disposable gloves 
  • Water 
  • Paper towel
  • Caulk finishing tool (optional)

Step 1

At first, wipe the area that needs to be caulked. Take some painter’s tape and create even lines around the caulking area with it. Now, take a caulking gun and apply caulk over the gaps of the stair. 

If there is any old, cracked caulk in between the stair seams, remove it with a utility knife before starting. You can also use paintable silicone caulk. This will provide a smooth and even finish.

Step 2

Apply the caulk on both ends of the stairs. Now put on the gloves, dip a finger in some water, and smooth out the caulk. Wipe away any extra caulk with a paper towel. 

Method 2: Wood putty

Things you will need

  • Wood putty
  • Putty knife
  • Warm water
  • Piece of cloth
  • Wood finish
Wood putty

Step 1

Wood putty is used to cover holes and smooth the surface. Select a wood putty that matches the color of your stairs as closely as possible. For an even-colored finish, apply the putty after staining the stairs.

Step 2

Wipe the area that needs wood putty with a damp cloth before applying it. Now, wait for some time and let the putty dry. 

Step 3

Take some wood putty on a putty knife and apply it over the void of the stair. Smooth it out and make it as flush with the surface as possible. 

Next, wipe the area with warm water to remove any residue and apply the wood finish. Repeat the applying and wiping process throughout the stair area. 

Step 4

Once done, allow the putty to dry for 24 hours before using the stair again. If walking over the stair is unavoidable, place a piece of newspaper to prevent the putty from sticking. 

Method 3: Carpeting

Carpeting is another wise technique to hide any small gaps in your stair. This will hide the gaps and increase the area’s beauty.  

Things you will need

  • Carpet
  • Shears 
  • Carpet adhesive
  • Carpet cutter or utility knife
  • Weighs 
  • Nails 

Step 1

Cut a piece of the carpet with shears to fit the stair tread precisely. Attach the carpet on the stair tread with the help of carpet adhesive. You can also use nails to do this. 

Step 2

After the carpet is placed and attached, place a heavy weight over it for 2-3 hours. This will ensure that the carpet is attached to the stair properly. Carpeting will also provide you with a slip-free finish.

Method 4: Wood Veneer 

Things you will need

  • Wood veneer
  • Adhesive
  • Utility knife
  • Weighs 
  • Sand paint

Step 1

Wood veneer is a popular alternative to carpets. First, place a large sheet of paper over the stair. Now, use a utility knife and cut out a template of the same size and shape as the stair tread. 

Step 2

Next, you need to place the template over the veneer and cut out a piece of the veneer. Apply some adhesive and place the veneer over the stair tread covering the gaps. 

Step 3

Place some weight over the veneer and wait for it to dry. It may take around 4-6 hours to dry completely.  Once it is dried, apply a coat of clear sand paint to create a slip-free surface. 

Should I Use Caulk or Wood Putty?

Both caulk and wood putty is used to fill gaps and holes in wood. So, it can get a little confusing sometimes to know which one to use. 

Caulk is mainly used to fill in gaps and corners between two materials. At the same time, wood putty is used to cover any small holes or damages on the wooden surface, such as nail holes. 

Caulk is not designed to be a long-term filler for wood. As it is not very durable, it may chip or crack after a while. Wood putty, on the other hand, remains very malleable and does not harden over time, making it a perfect choice for extended use. 

So, wood putty will be the better option in case of long-time service. Other than that, both are good in their way and used for different purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Are Treads Made of One Piece of Wood?

Stair treads can be made of one piece of wood or multiple narrow strips of wood glued together. Most people think that a one-piece wooden tread would be better for stability. 

In reality

, a single plank wooden tread may look better, but the glued-up treads would be more stable in case of stability. A one-piece tread has a higher chance of getting warped due to the wood’s moisture. 

Whereas treads of narrow strips glued together are less likely to bend, lift, warp, or twist. However, if you are willing to use a single plank, check the moisture content first and seal all sides of it with two coats of oil before installing it. 

Here is a video link in case you are interested to know how glued-up stair treads are made:

Q: Can Silicone be Used as a Wood Filler?

Silicone might not be your best option as a wood filler. We all know it as an excellent water sealant, and its flexibility makes it popular. But silicone should never be applied on any wooden surface. 

Silicone creates a super strong bond with wood that is nearly impossible to remove without damaging the surface. Although the strong bond may seem like a benefit, you must keep in mind that you may need to replace the silicone caulk at some point. 

Even the most experienced caulkers face trouble removing silicone caulk from wood without leaving uneven residue or chipping the wooden surface. So, it would be wise not to use silicone instead of wood filler.

Q: Is Paper Tape or Mesh Tape Better?

Most drywall merchants will agree that paper tape is a bit stronger and more versatile than mesh tape. But mesh tape has a more manageable curve and better moisture resistance. 

On the other hand, paper tapes are better at preventing cracks along the drywall seams. It can also be folded very easily and applied to even the corners of a wall. 

So, as you can see, paper and mesh tape are both perfect and two of the most popular options. So, use the tape that you feel more comfortable working with according to your need.

Q: What is the Difference Between Wood Filler and Wood Putty?

The key difference between wood filler and wood putty is that wood filler gets complicated when it is dried, and wood putty does not. Wood filler can be sanded and stained once it is dried. 

It repairs the wood from the inside and helps maintain its integrity. It is mainly used on unfinished woodwork. Wood putty, on the other hand, is applied only after the woodwork is finished, as it contains chemicals that may damage the wooden surface. 

Wood putty is best for repairing cracks and small holes in finished woodwork. It can be used only for interior projects. While wood filler can be used for both interior and exterior projects.

Final Words

Be careful when you repair the gaps between the stairs and the wall. Sometimes, you might even damage the stair or fade or destroy the color of the wall. This is the article’s primary goal, to enlighten you on how to fix a gap between the stair tread and wall. 

In the worst scenario, just get a professional. You can observe and grasp the matter and later do it yourself. That should be the thing to fix your stair gaps feasibly.

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Ezekiel Mutitu

Ezekiel Mutitu is a man of many talents. He has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, which has led him to do thousands of DIY projects. He loves learning about anything and everything - especially electronics and electrical items. Ezekiel knows that by being passionate about writing, he can help people from all walks of life understand complex topics and processes.

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