Stair-Tread-to-Landing Transition

Tips on installing stair landings. October 25, 2006

How do you transition from stair tread to landing? The stairs have two landings halfway up the stairs. The all-in-one stair tread is about 12+ inches deep so they cover an entire step. What do you do when you come to a landing or the very top step? (Top step will transition into a wood floor.) Do you cut the tread short and put planks behind it? Do you leave it at 12+ inches and then put planks behind it? I assume you should router a groove on the plank side regardless if you cut it short?

Related article: Installation Tips for Stair Treads

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor B:
All you have to do is use a piece of landing tread. If the area is going to be floored with hardwood, then you put the tread down and the hardwood guys, usually the stair guys, run the hardwood up and butt to the tread, same with carpet.

From contributor J:
I think the widths are pretty much left up to what you think looks best. For instance, when the head of the stairs would end at an open balcony, I would put a wide bulllnosed board on the floor of the balcony. It would be wide enough to extend beyond the trim on the wall just beneath it and back far enough onto the floor so that all the rail spindles would land on it - not part on it and part on the hardwood flooring.

I liked to keep the top tread the same width if possible, even though the top newel generally interrupted. But I would narrow it if it would project beyond the adjacent wall on the other side of the stairs (presuming there was one). And, yes, I do dado both the balcony bullnose and the landing bullnose. I would also rip splines and tape them to something close by so the laborers wouldn't shitcan them. Most of the flooring guys used them. Some didn't. Make sure you check your rises if you are switching tread thicknesses.

From contributor R:

For a landing or the top of the stairs, you use a landing cap. It's a 5 1/2' wide piece with a groove in the back end. Don't waste money using a tread; landing cap is cheaper. It has a 1" thick nose 1 1/4" back (for overhang), then it's 3/4" thick for the balance 4 1/4". Generally I do the strip flooring on landings unless the GC has contracted the flooring company to do it. You just use a spline to start the flooring. The landing cap is also used for balcony runs. The hardwood flooring guy handles it from the top of stair run. Now, if carpeting is used for the second floor, I rip off the 1/4" of the width that has the groove, and use sandpaper to kiss the edge, to take the sharp edge off. Or you can buy landing cap that doesn't have a groove in it.

From contributor R:
A couple things I forgot to mention that are important. When bidding or starting a stair job, the first thing you do is what we call "chase the stairs." You check all the runs and rises on all the steps to be sure all are in code and allowing that the store bought treads are 1-1 1/16", and that landing caps are net 3/4" thick. Many times on framer built stair carriages, adjustments must be made to be in code.

Also, you mention that your treads are 12" wide. Treads generally need to be ripped to the right width, as max overhang by code is 1 1/4". And by code, max difference in tread width is 3/8" overall and in my state, no more than 3/16" between 2 adjoining treads. This also applies to riser.

From contributor P:
A "landing tread" and "landing cap" are different terms for the same item. You can order them with or without a groove and in 3 1/2" and 5 1/2" widths.

Contributor R, your statement, "Many times on framer built stair carriages, adjustments must be made to be in code" has to be the understatement of the year! Adjustments? Yeah right! Rebuilding would be more like it. I swear, I get so frustrated and angry I could spit nails every time I have to re-build some hack framer's excuse for stringers! I wish the builders would call me to rough in the stairs. Would save me a lot of frustration later on down the road.