The division into ‘first fix’ and ‘second fix’ comes from the number of phases needed to finish a job. About Oliver Gibbs is a carpenter and joiner in Shrewsbury who provides ethical carpentry and joinery services throughout Shropshire. To post questions, help other DIYers and reduce advertising (like the one on your left), join our DIY community.
I've recently purchased a home that has quite a few loose stair treads in the stairway connecting the main floor to the second floor. The backside of the stairs are finished with drywall so I am not able to access them from under.
Also, there are cracks and gaps between the treads and the side stringers, what is the best way to fill these up? After you're finished a new coat of enamel trim paint will be needed to cover the new caulking and freshen up the woodwork.
In my opinion, a true fix would call for the removal of drywall on the back of stair and taking out the wedges, shimming the stringers back into contact with the treads and risers by installing plywood strips at framing points to apply inward pressure until the stringers are in contact withe the treads and risers.
If you do go this route you should make sure you clean out all accumulated debris that may have gotten into the dados like years worth of dust and dirt.
While doing some further investigation today I discovered that the riser boards are made of some type of particle board. I suppose you could try it, but be forewarned to drill a long pilot hole (smaller than the screw obviously) and maybe use a little longer screw than you would have otherwise.
I found this thread helpful so I thought I'd post my similar question within it, rather than starting a new thread. This didn't fix the problem but I learned that the root cause is one side stringer that flexes, causing loud creaks where the treads butt up against the skirt board on that side. You can also try shaking some baby powder into the crack between the treads and wall to lubricate it. Blocks between the stringers probably won't do much, your options will depend largely on what sides of the staircase you have access to. This is probably overbuilt somewhat since the existing stringers sound like they're sufficient to carry the load that's needed, but it's what I would do in my own house assuming access to the stringers and the gap from at least below. Connecting the flexing side stringer to the wall studs on that side seems like the best way to immobilize the stringer. This plan seems like what you suggested, bmgreene, but using the existing spacer instead of adding blocks. Also, if you've got the tread removed, and have access from the top, then I'd recommend putting in a second block above the spacer, aligned with the stud would be best and put another screw or two (if possible) through that one as well. Alternately, or in addition you could add some buttresses onto the wall beneath the underside drywall, cross-bracing underneath would give even more strength and visual symmetry if your wall studs are aligned on either side of the area.

The only new problem I caused is that when removing the three oak treads that I had recently glued-and-screwed (plan A for fixing the creaky stairs - didn't work), one of them split. If you're carpeting, then it's probably not worth the work involved to do that since the non-matching treads will never be seen anyway and a couple pine treads cost less than the value of time involved.
With house prices on the up again, many homeowners are sticking with their current property and instead choosing to extend to gain extra space without the need to sell or move. Neoteric Contracts undertook the carpentry package on behalf of Faithdean PLC at Opus 2 office building in Leatherhead.
Neoteric Contracts undertook the carpentry and dry-lining package at this 3 bedroom house in Henley. Neoteric Contracts took on the first and second fix carpentry at this new modern 5 bedroom detached property, as the job progressed we also supplied plastering and tiling trades. We are a professional building services company based in Southend, Essex and covering all of the Essex area into London and the surrounding counties.
We take pride in all aspects of a project whether it is a small domestic job or a large commercial build. In carpentry, the first fix usually refers to structural work, which is done before the plastering of a property. After the first fix, a carpenter would normal stop work to allow other trades people to work.
However, at Oliver Gibbs Carpentry & Joinery, we do first fix and second fix work, and we can help project manage other professionals in the different phases of the work.
My original thought was to hammer some nails into the center stringer to tighten up the boards but to be sure the placement of the stringer I went to look at the basement stairs, which I have access to the underside, with the thought that the builder probably had both sets of stairs fabricated the same. I believe I will attempt the methods you've outlined since it seems more practical of a project for me to take on by myself. I am going to try to take the lip molding piece off the riser and see if I can spot any screws coming in from the front, in the event they built them different than the basement :\ . Since I can't access the underside of the stairs my first choice was to screw that stringer to the wall.
It sounds like you both agree that tying the stringers together with blocks won't do much - that's helpful feedback. The orientation of the 2x4 spacer (see diagram below) makes this kind of a long distance to drill and screw through, but after some communication with Greg Vanden Berge (Stair Building Guide For Home Owners And Contractors) I'm thinking I'll try it. I used 8" timber screws with two washers and hand-tightened them with a socket wrench for the last few turns. The screw into the stud nearest the bottom of the stairs made the biggest difference: the movement I could feel when stepping on that stringer is gone. I think I'll just replace those two broken treads with unfinished pine treads since we're carpeting over these stairs.

What’s more, under many circumstances, a typical single-storey, ground floor extension can be built without planning permission. We built 3 large dormers and 8 large skylights into the existing roof and formed the glass atrium, finishing off with fitting new metal pressings around the perimeter of the roof, transforming a previously unusable space into a large modern office. We removed most of the existing roof and all the interior walls, constructed a loft conversion with 3 dormers, rebuilt the interior walls, installed new door linings, doors, architraves and skirting boards throughout and fitted a new staircase from ground to the second floor transforming the old 3 bedroom house into a new 5 bed with 2 en-suite bathrooms all in a 16 week time-scale.
Working alongside the client we helped design the unusual round gallery landing and contemporary staircase forming a spectacular entrance to the building. This would include building the wall studding, roof struts, door frames and floor joists, for example. For example, the electricians may lay cables or the plumbers may fix pipes in the roof, walls and floor. Well the basement stairs have no center stringer (see image) so now I am concerned that the main stairs might not either so how can I tighten them up from above? You can also add some 2x material screwed and glued between the stringers or cover the back of the stair with plywood glued and screwed to the back edge of the stringer.
Greg kindly made a video showing his suggestion: How To Fix Squeaking Stairs a?? Stair Stringer with Framing Spacer - YouTube.
I also added the 2nd blocks above the spacer like bmgreene suggested, to better distribute that load.
Although an extension can look expensive on paper, compared to the costs associated with moving house (including the cost of upsizing, estate agent, removal and legal fees, etc.), it can prove more cost-effective to stay put! Completing all carpentry from structural joisting to laying oak floors and building the 200 square metre decking in under 8 months. To discuss your building project in Shropshire or for a free carpentry and joinery quote, do contact us at our Shrewsbury office.
If these can tie the flexing stringer to the center stringer and the opposite side stringer (which are both more solid) it may reinforce the flexing stringer and make it more rigid. What’s more, it’s an ideal way of creating extra living space and adding value to your home in both the short- and long-term. This may be done by the same or a different carpenter and would include fixing architrave, window boards, floor boards and skirting. However, on big projects, they will often stay on site and do alternative carpentry work while the other trades finish their tasks.

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