What you don’t know sometimes can surprise you.
I was discussing with a distributor colleague the other day about how amazed I was with the cost of the stair treads that you can purchase at Home Depot and Lowe’s. He informed me that the treads are a veneer and not solid oak and I was blown away.
Take a look at the profile from the side and you will see exactly what I am talking about. The tread on the left is solid oak the one on the right is an oak veneer. My other issue is with the China factor regarding material quality and sustainability.
Regarding sustainability: Oak doesn’t grow in China so the oak veneer had to be be shipped to China for manufacturing (for cheap) and then the tread is shipped back to the US for purchase. How GREEN is that?
Regarding longevity (life-cycle analysis): The veneer tread can likely be sanded 3 times before you burn through the veneer. My other issue is that poorly glued veneer can de-laminate and who wants a staircase that is falling apart. Let’s call the tread on the right what it is… JUNK.
The cost for a high quality staircase is in the labor for installation and finishing. The treads really only represent about 20-25% of the cost on average. If we were to estimate installing a standard staircase with the veneered treads, then the savings would be about $250-300. That’s a rather paltry number considering that an average staircase starts at about $2500 and goes up from there depending on what features you want.
Please investigate your projects from all dimensions, from the contractor to the materials used for the project.