DIY NuStair Staircase Remodeling System Review
By Eric Shapin, Customer & Do-It-Yourselfer
I recommend the NuStair system wholeheartedly and enthusiastically. Let me try and count the ways…
Quality of Packaging
Excellent. Products arrived tied to a skid. Within each box, proper cardboard fillers were utilized such that the wood was secure with no opportunity for scratches or other inadvertent damage in shipping and handling.
Quality of Tread
Exquisite! The wood is clean, the color, grain, and finish are gorgeous. The nose and scotia molding are bonded so well to the main tread that it is almost possible to believe that the entire tread is of a single piece of wood. Few if any chatter marks on Scotia from the cutter. Well-done, NuStair (my treads were Red Oak, Natural finish).
Not much to say here, as I ordered primed risers for greater customization (my wife chose the paint color). The wood is a ¾” laminate, primed on 1 side.
Basically watch the installation video, and do what it says and in the order it directs. I, being a little paranoid of squeaks, used much more glue than shown in the video, and spread it with a across the tread with a ¼” x ¼” x ¼” notched trowel to assure a full and even coverage. As far as the shims were concerned, the thicknesses packed with the NuStair risers were correct for most instances; however, there were a few existing riser/tread combinations on the original stairs that required a thinner size. I initially ripped my own wood to the required thicknesses, until I happened on the discovery that paint stirrers from the Home Depot were exactly the stock that I needed.
Cutting the Risers and Tread to Width
I used a stair measurement jig from Collins Tool due to what I saw as optimal utility and functionality for the buck, but I do believe that the NuStair model would have been superior in its ease of use. Research the various stair jig options available and decide for yourself. I had slight gaps in a few pieces that I filled with wood putty after installation and, as a testament to its effectiveness, even my discriminating has trouble seeing that there had been a gap. As my progress continued, my cutting became even more accurate, to the point that the gaps were at or near zero. As a tip, after each attempt at dry fit, realign the cut-down tread or riser with the stair jig in order to determine the location of a too-tight fit and recut accordingly.
Neatness of Applying Glue
I used 10.1oz cartridges of Bostik’s Best purchased via Nustair (and Nustair Distributor Grass Elements in St. Louis, attn: Jennifer Zilka) at a very reasonable price. This single component urethane adhesive is odorless and provides more than adequate working time. The key is keeping the adhesive from inadvertently contacting surfaces adjacent to the piece being glued (although even the cured clue can be easily removed from finished wood via a rag wetted with mineral spirits). My work routine consisted of newspapers placed on the tread immediately above that which I was gluing, and this is where I would place a 2nd caulk gun with an unopened Bostik cartridge, the glue trowel, an awl for puncturing the cartridge’s seal, and a rag wetted with mineral spirits. On the tread immediately below the piece I was working on would be another sheet of newspaper, the caulk gun with the opened Bostik Best cartridge, and a scrap piece of tread and/or riser for rechecking fits to the just-installed piece (in the case of the riser, for instance, I would place a scrap piece of tread on the underlayment tread above that newly installed riser to assure that it latter is fully seated against the shims). Two or three treads down from where I was working would be placed a nailer to secure the backs of the treads and/or the tops of the risers. Note that, in a couple of instances, the bottom of the riser would tend to pull away from the bottom shim. In these instances, I would drive a brad or finish nail sub-flush, cover with a bit of wood filler, and hide with a dab of paint (worked like a charm).
Steve Mott, the NuStair inventor, responded to my every email promptly. His answers to my questions were detailed and, in the case of his support for his product and my project, I received far more than my investment’s worth.
The NuStair Distributor
The nearest distributor, referred to me by Steve Mott, was Jennifer Zilka of Grass Elements in St. Louis, MO. Jennifer was always prompt in her responses to my sales/delivery related inquiries, provided clear, easy to read quotes, and quick confirmation of order placement and shipment. She is committed to good service and customer satisfaction and, if her company can be of service for the bamboo flooring and related products that it specializes in, I couldn’t recommend her highly enough as a professional who is a pleasure to do business with.
In my home, the main staircase has an outsized influence on the perception and “feeling” of the overall quality of the entire interior, as it is the first thing one sees when walking through the front door. Well done, NuStair and Grass Elements. Through my basic do-it-yourselfer skills and the excellence your product and service, it is now an increased pleasure for my wife and I to walk inside and spend time in our ever-more lovely home.