Ask a Pro

Ask a pro: Covering concrete stairs



My home has concrete stairs leading to the basement. We're renovating the basement, but so far I'm at a loss for a way to upgrade the look of the stairs, which are in very bad shape.

I have been looking for a reasonable solution to covering them but have not had any luck finding anything. Can you suggest a fix? — Ross Miller, via email

A solution is to apply a plywood skin or veneer over your old concrete stairs. It’s a simple fix that can be completed in a few hours.

Follow these five steps for a perfect finish:

1. Measure the tread of your existing stairs, and cut 3/4″-thick veneer plywood to the same size as your treads, adding 3/4″ in depth. (For example: a 10″ x 36″ stair tread would need a piece of plywood cut to10 3/4″ x 36″.)

2. Measure the stair risers and cut more plywood to size; only this time, subtract 3/4″ from the riser height.

3. Attach the risers to the treads with screws driven up through the bottom of the treads.

4. Apply a generous amount of construction adhesive to both the treads and the risers and then glue them to the concrete steps. You can set them into place by gently stepping on them.

5. Finally, apply a piece of shopmade or store-bought 1″-wide x 3/4″-deep bullnose trim to the exposed plywood edge with some wood glue and finishing nails. To finish it all off, give the plywood a sanding and apply your choice of stain, then top coat with polyurethane.


Ryan Shervill

Ryan Shervill is a field editor and contributor to Outdoor Canada, as well as an avid hunter and shooter. He is also Canadian Home Workshop’s online Ask a Pro and contributing editor.


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Oct. 13, 2012

8:12 am

Actually they are indoor stairs. This would be a great Idea. However, someone in the floor department at Home Depot gave me a great idea which I used. I covered the treads with slate tiles and used leftover laminate flooring from the basement floor fro the risers. I used metal tile edging for the ends of the treads. It turned out great. And because I used rough slate there is no slipping worry.

Lawrence W

Oct. 13, 2012

7:49 am

Ryan... that is an outdoor walkout-- verneer ply doesn't work so well out doors. He's looking for something that can be applied....stone, tile, epoxy... lots of things work, but you have to be careful not to change the risers and end up with something dangerous.

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