Wait for spring to replace wooden steps

Douglas fir treads should be carefully selected, dried before installation

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Q: I read (and kept) your column about how to restore a Victorian's front staircase. I, too, own a Victorian house, in Oakland, Calif., with wooden stairs that need to be restored. Your article was very helpful, but I have a couple of questions about replacing them. What is the best new lumber to replace the old 2-by-12s? I would expect to paint them. Also, should I use wood screws to fasten the treads? A: The rainy season is upon us. We strongly advise against installing new wooden steps until drier weather and warmer days arrive. If you install any kind of exterior wood during the winter it will absorb moisture. This increases the chance that the paint will fail when the wood shrinks in drier weather. Wait until spring. You'll give the new treads and risers the best chance to withstand the inevitable expansion and contraction and hold the paint. We doubt that your steps are original to the house. Someone in the past has replaced them with 2-by-12s that did not match th...