In many period homes, the staircase is a reflection of the style and status of the owner. They are often highly detailed with complex construction. The style may vary, with the most ornate section near the entrance, to be seen clearly by visitors. The next level may be simpler, intended for use only by the family. And the topmost level may be completely plain, meant to be used only by domestic staff. Whatever the décor and embellishment, the staircase is integral to the character of your home.
- Creaking treads can often be fixed by screwing through the tread into the riser to tighten it. If required, they should also be re-glued. If the creak is due to loose-fitting joints between the tread and string, you need to use wedges and glue to tighten them. If the treads are badly worn, they should be replaced.
- If powdery deposits are seen on the stairs, it may be due to beetle or termite infestation. Have the pests removed by an exterminator before checking for damage to the wood and doing any repairs.
- Spindles and balusters can become loose with time and use. Besides the danger of falling, the looseness could cause the wood to split or crack. Do not delay repairs.
- Besides increasing the risk of tripping, worn or damaged nosing on the front of the treads expose to damage the wood below it. Replace them immediately.
- Staining on the wood, especially near any metal components, could be a sign of rusting. Remove the stains and check for worn metal and damage to the wood.
- Any dampness around the staircase could cause the wood to rot. Locate the source of the moisture ingress, and ensure it is fixed before examining the staircase for any damaged wood.
- If a wooden staircase needs to be repainted, remove all the old paint before applying new coats. At times after removing the old paint, it may be seen that detail has been lost due to the buildup coats over the years. In such cases, the layers should be stripped to allow the true wood the show.
Wood is a wonderful material, but it does show the ravages of time. If you live in an old home with a classic wooden staircase, you need to care more for it. If you do not, it may become unsafe and unusable. Replacing it will be a major project – an expensive one.
The signs of deterioration are often hard to identify, and only an expert will be able to spot and fix problems in time to save wood. And if you should decide to replace it as part of a remodeling, an expert is again the best person to do the job. He will be able to build a new staircase that blends into the new look of your home.
Builders and remodeling contractors can repair and make new staircases. But when staircase construction and repair specialists are available, why not use the best? It will not cost more and you will be assured of a staircase that looks great and will last for a long time.