Ottawa contractor John Baschuk, a trusted provider of construction, renovation and remodeling services for a home reno, addition to a home or a complete custom home construction project.

Top construction contractor John Baschuk answers your questions about staircase recapping

Why are so many home owners interested in staircase capping (also known as stair recapping and stair resurfacing)?

John: Home owners see staircase capping as a win-win. It adds beauty to a focal point in their home, which they get to enjoy while they are living in the home, and when they decide to sell their home, having hardwood stairs adds value to the home.

What options are available for anyone who is considering upgrading the look of their staircase?

John: There are many options. One of the most affordable is to use a combination of hardwood and softwood. For example, the treads could be in hardwood and the stair riser could be softwood or you could have the reverse. At the other end of the budget scale is a luxury staircase reno, involving the construction of an entirely rebuilt staircase with new treads, risers, spindles, posts and hand rails, all constructed with quality hardwood.

What are the options in terms of building materials?

John: The options are almost endless. Some home owners are even using exotic woods that come from the rainforest.

What is the typical budget for staircase capping?

John: There are many cost variables, so it is not possible to provide an accurate quote without a site visit to inspect the existing staircase. As a rough guide, I would say the most affordable option would be a project using both hardwood and softwood, and that can be done for $3,000 to $5,000.

An all hardwood project could cost three times as much – or even more depending on the size of the staircase, the construction issues and materials used. The important thing is not to be guided by what your neighbors tell you about their project as there are just too many variables.

How long does it take to complete a staircase capping project?

John: For a relatively simply project involving the resurfacing of a straight staircase, the entire project takes about a week, with one day to come in to do the measuring and create templates, a couple of days in my workshop to construct and stain the steps and one day for the installation.

Does the homeowner have to put up with a lot of dust and the odour of the stain?

John. No, because all the construction and staining is done in my shop. However, there is cutting and sawing with other staircase construction projects. For example, onsite construction is necessary if we are changing a carpet tread to a hardwood tread, but we take care to protect the areas around where we are working by putting down tarps, and, of course, we do a complete clean-up when we are done.

Can you create a custom design for a customer who wants a luxury staircase?

John: Yes, but it is important to get me involved right from the beginning as I can often offer staircase design and construction tips that the home owner finds very helpful. The tip might be something that enhances the design or it could be something that reduces the cost and timeline. Or it could be all of those things.

If the homeowner is planning a staircase rebuild and also wants to change the flooring at either end of the staircase, what should be done first: the staircase or the flooring?

John: It really doesn't matter what comes first, but let's assume the flooring comes first and it involves tiling. I would draw a line on the sub flooring showing where the tile should end, and that would allow me to come in with the nosing and make a clean transition from the hardwood to the tile.

Does a staircase rebuild have to include the railing, spindles and posts?

John: No, it is not necessary to replace everything. However, the existing railing, spindles and posts will have to be removed to put in new treads. Once that is done, the railing, spindles and posts can be reinstalled with no change or the customer could opt to change the finish. For example, they may want the finish of the railing to match the finish of the hardwood on the steps.

Example of stair renovation by John Baschuk, who delivers workmanship associated with the best stairs renovation companies in Ottawa or Toronto.

Staircase capping in older homes

Some staircase capping projects in older homes require extra work because the existing staircase design does not meet current building standards.

For example, in homes built before 1993, there may not be enough head clearance or the railings may not be high enough. In other homes, the existing staircase installation is off code. This can be corrected, but typically involves significant repair and reconstruction to bring the staircase to code. It is well worth the effort, however, to ensure your home can pass an inspection prior to selling your property.

"These issues are not show stoppers," John says, but bringing the stairs up to current building standards will have implications in terms of the project timeline and cost."