Should You Nail or Screw Stair Treads?

Should You Nail or Screw Stair Treads?

Deciding whether to nail or screw stair treads? Explore the benefits and drawbacks of each method to choose the best option for your staircase.
What Screws to Use for Stair Treads Reading Should You Nail or Screw Stair Treads? 4 minutes Next How to Attach Stair Treads to Stringers

Deciding should you nail or screw stair treads is more than a matter of personal preference—it's a decision that impacts the installation's ease, the staircase's durability, and its maintenance over time.

Screws provide a more durable and secure attachment, making them preferable for high-traffic areas and for easier future adjustments. Nails, on the other hand, can be quicker to install and less visually intrusive, suitable for lower-traffic staircases and where budget is a concern.

For those using carpet stair treads, this decision is crucial because the right fastening method ensures the carpet remains flat and secure, enhancing both the safety and aesthetics of your staircase.

Using Nails or Screws   

While both nails and screws provide strong support, screws tend to offer better long-term stability and are easier to adjust if the treads need to be removed or replaced. Nails, however, can be quicker to install and slightly less visible.

Should You Nail Down Stair Treads?  

Nailing down stair treads is a traditional method that many find sufficient for their needs.

Pros of Nailing Treads     

  • Speed: Nailing is generally faster than screwing, which can speed up large projects.

  • Cost: Nails are typically less expensive than screws.

Cons of Nailing Treads     

  • Less Durable: Nails may loosen over time under heavy foot traffic, requiring more maintenance.

Can You Screw in Stair Treads?     

Screwing in stair treads is an increasingly popular choice due to its advantages.

Pros of Screwing Treads     

  • Durability: Screws hold more securely and are less likely to work loose over time.

  • Adjustability: It's easier to remove screws than nails, which is helpful for future renovations or repairs.

Can You Use a Brad Nailer for Stair Treads?     

While a brad nailer is great for lighter trim work, it is generally not recommended for securing stair treads due to the smaller size of the nails, which might not provide adequate hold for heavy-duty use like foot traffic.

What Kind of Nails to Use for Stair Treads?     

Choosing the right nails is critical if you opt to nail your treads.

Best Nails for the Job     

  • Finishing Nails: These can be used for wooden treads and are usually enough for residential staircases with moderate use.

  • Spiral or Ring Shank Nails: These offer better grip and are ideal for high-traffic areas.

Do You Install Stair Treads or Risers First?   

Understanding the proper sequence in stair construction can greatly influence the outcome of your project.

So, do you install stair treads or risers first? Typically, risers are installed first, allowing the treads to overlap them, which helps in creating a cleaner, more secure finish. This sequence is particularly important when using carpet treads, as it ensures a snug fit with no edges to trip over.

How to Attach Stair Treads to Stringers   

To attach stair treads to stringers effectively, it's important to first ensure that the stringers are level and sturdy.

Then, position the treads on the stringers and secure them by driving screws or nails through the tread into the stringer at both ends and the middle, making sure to maintain alignment and prevent any movement as you go. This method provides a strong and lasting attachment that can handle regular foot traffic.  


Whether to nail or screw stair treads depends on your specific situation, including the type of tread material, the expected foot traffic, and whether ease of future modifications is a priority. For carpet treads, ensuring the fasteners do not cause the carpet to bulge or shift is paramount, making the choice of whether to nail or screw even more significant.