17 Dec 2022
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United Kingdom
Hi there, I'm laying a solid herringbone floor and have reached a tricky area - the base of the stairs.

We are thinking about undercutting the stair stringers, newel post and riser by 6-8mm to allow for an expansion gap, so that when completed, the wood floor will look like it neatly touches the edge of the stairs.

(We are removing the carpet and keeping the stair wood visible, and aren't keen on using a scotia bead or cork to cover fill/cover the gap - would love to avoid it if possible.)

But, is this advisable?

I've read lots of contradictory advice online:
Some people say not to undercut the stringers and newel post as it may affect the structural integrity, and/or possibly lead to creaking. Other people seem to say it's fine to do this. Other people say that as long as you've got an expansion gap along all other perimeters, you don't even need one around stair base.

I'd love to know the the correct way to do this!

Attached is a photo of the stairs in question.


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Not sure what the proper way is, but a neighbour has a floor similar... albeit some kind of old teak/mahogany.

He doesn't look to have left and expansion joints on the his floor around the staircase, although there is at the wall sides (under skirts).
If you are tempted to have a gap, I'd reduce to something like 4mm, then fill with either matching sealant or cork expansion strips.

If you were going to undercut the newel post, if you could make the cut small <8mm, can't see any structural issues, looks like a meaty bit of timber. Undercutting the riser, may add a squeak.

It's going to look good when finished.(y)

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