When I bought my house the basement was unfinished, and the stairs to the basement are a “minimal job”.
I finished the basement in 2000 and had carpet professionally installed and they covered the stairs. Over the years the stairs got squeakier, but the basement was mostly a music room and playroom for the kids, so we didn’t worry much about the squeaky stairs.
fast forward to the recent past, my wife is starting a longarm quilting business (she has a giant motorized sewing machine on a 12-foot long frame) and we closed off half the basement to create a quilting studio.
Since most of her business is quilting for customers, she regularly has clients coming to our house and her basement studio. So this is where the ugly and squeaky stairs started bothering us.

I’ve done a bit of research on fixing stairs from above (can’t access the underneath without taking the drywall off the roof of the closet space underneath the stairs). I think I can easily screw the treads into the risers at the front of the tread (pilot hole, countersink, wood putting to cover the screw head). I could even add screws on the stringer side of the treads, not sure how to tell if it’s necessary.

The back of the tread is where I’m not sure what to do. you can see how the riser and the tread have separated over the years and there is a 1/4″ gap or so on most steps (picture). Peeking into the gap I can see the riser was secured to the tread with “staples” (picture). If I had access to the underneath I would probably screw the riser into the tread from the back to force the gap closed. But what do I do from the top?


My first thought was to glue wedges into the gap, then fill the gap with either construction adhesive, to simply calk them. But am I making the problem worse by forcing the gap open? I can’t think of a good way to pull the riser back to the tread from the top.

Those are “crappy basement stairs”, I’m not even sure what the material is, from the rounded nose of the treads it looks like some kind of manufactured wood. We’re not ready to invest in a full stairs replacement, so looking for a “quick fix”. We looked at covering the stairs with wood laminate like the rest of the basement, but covering stairs is very expensive compared to floors, and my wife doesn’t want to incur the expense when she is trying to recoup the startup costs and turning a profit. We think that simply painting the stairs with a heavy duty paint and using individual tread “carpet” covers (not sure what they’re really called) will work fine for now, but we want the squeaks gone.

I may post another tread about how best to go about painting the stairs once I figure out the squeaking, but mostly mentioning that wer’re not talking about a showpiece grand staircase in oak or anything like that.