Side Note: Lowes price on the steps was at or below Lumber Liquidators (LL) price, I didn't find the wood at Lowes until after I bought from LL. I had issues with LL. I thought I wrote about this previously but I couldn't find the post (must have been in my imagination). Here's the scoop. I went to LL and they were seriously understaffed. The guy who seemed like he was running things acted like he had been building wood floors for 50 years, but was most likely spouting off things he had learned at the LL employee training program. There was a couple asking about laminate and he made them sound like idiots for even considering it. He was of course pushing them to buy the more expensive hardwood (the real deal, not the hardwood laminate). In the end, this guy reminded me of the stereotype of a used car salesman. When I came back to pick up my wood, there were a bunch of salespeople and the actual store manager was correcting "used car salesman" guy in a "I'm tired of dealing with this guy" manner. Your Experience May Vary.
The sanding, staining, and varnishing paid off big time, the wood looks beautiful. My In-Laws showed up yesterday, as always my mother-in-law watched the kids and my father-in-law helped me build the new steps. First of all, I have to say, the amount of dirt that had worked through the carpet onto the stairs was disgusting. Every time I pulled up carpet, there was always a ton of dirt underneath the carpet and the stairs were no exception. Carpet is porous, so the dirt just filters down to the wood underneath. I know that's not a revelation, but the amount of dirt was startling.
As you can see, the stringers have been routed out so that the treads and risers just slide in to place. Wedges keep them aligned properly. This is known as a housed stringer-I bought a book about stairs and there was only one image in the whole book on housed stringers. These stairs were assembled at a factory somewhere and shipped to the site when the house was being built. Because they were assembled off site, We knew we were going to face some issues with the top step and riser as well as the bottom riser, we are expecting the old HVAC unit to be in the way at the top. But, as it turns out, the header holding up the stairs was in the way as you can see in this image next image.
Unless you're a rockstar, you may never get the chance to take a chainsaw to your house.
I still have the top riser to put in place, the riser I had was too short by about an inch. The top riser will get glued and screwed to the old riser to hold it in place (the same thing we did to the bottom riser).