On this page:
- How Do Pros Estimate the Cost of Repairing Stairs?
- Do I Need a Pro to Repair My Stairs?
- What Affects the Cost of Repairing Stairs?
- How Much Will My Repair Project Cost?
- Preparing for Stair Repairs
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
- Find a Pro
Whether indoors or out, keeping stairs and railings in good condition is important for both the appearance and safety of your home. There are a number of repair options for a stairway, and several factors that can affect the cost to repair stairs.
How Do Pros Estimate the Cost of Repairing Stairs?
No matter what the job, every repair project is unique and will have to be evaluated before a pro can provide an estimate for the work. The nature of the repair will help determine the skill level and materials required, and when it comes to stairs there is a surprisingly wide range of repair scenarios.
For example, making basic repairs to the railing on the stairs of an outdoor deck typically calls for basic carpentry skills that a general carpenter and most handymen possess, while restoring or replicating the trim details of an interior railing system or staircase requires the expertise of a finish carpenter or even a furniture restorer. The difference in skills is demonstrated by labor rates; an experienced finish carpenter may charge twice as much per hour as a general handyman.
Pricing the Job
Since the difficulty of repair work can be hard to predict, a lot of professionals provide estimates for this type of work, rather than firm bids or quotes. When this is the case, the job is generally priced at “time and materials,” or the cost for the actual time spent on the job and the materials used. Even if your contractor cannot provide you a set price for the work, he or she should be able to give you an idea of the time involved so you have something to base your budget on.
Do I Need a Pro to Repair My Stairs?
The Difficulty of the Job
Many types of stair and railing improvements can be made by a DIYer with the right tools and carpentry skills. But since the safety of stairs is paramount, it’s important not to overestimate your skills when it comes to making structural repairs. If you don’t have what it takes to do the job right, leave it in the hands of a skilled professional to get the best results.
The Importance of Proper Repairs
Due to their significance for safe entry, exit, and passage in a multi-level structure, the requirements for the overall dimensions, tread depth, riser height, and railing systems of stairs are specified by local building codes. If the repairs needed for your stairs are more than cosmetic, it’s important to make sure the work is code-compliant, so if you are not sure how to do the work to spec, it’s best to call in an expert who is familiar with local codes, will pull a permit if needed, and is backed by a license and liability insurance.
What Affects the Cost of Repairing Stairs?
Your location is always a factor in the cost of home repair and improvement work, since the cost of labor is directly related to the local economy. In addition to the whereabouts of your home, though, the location of the stairs that are in need of repair can be a significant concern. In most cases, the materials used for repairing exterior stairs is less expensive than that used for similar repairs on interior stairs and railing systems.
Style and Material of Stairway
The material and type of staircase involved in your repair may be an important aspect of pricing the job. If yours is a straight, wooden stairway with standard railings that is easily accessible, it will probably cost less to repair than concrete entry steps, since the latter may require several pros to get the job done, such as a concrete contractor as well as a carpenter or mason. The complexity of a staircase of any material will affect the cost of repairs; it takes more time and skill to work on stairs or railings that are curved or have multiple landings than it does on straight stairs.
Nature of Repairs
The overall type and scale of the repair project may be the primary consideration in pricing the job. If your repair just involves tightening a wobbly railing on an interior staircase, it will probably be much less time consuming, disruptive, and expensive than leveling a set of masonry steps outside or removing carpet and replacing every tread and riser to renovate stairs indoors.
How Much Will My Repair Project Cost?
Many common stair repair jobs involve railings, whether installing an entire system, replacing a few damaged balusters, or just tightening up a shaky newel post. The length and style of the railing, as well as the method of repair are the most important details to consider on a job like this; it may cost less than $100 to have a carpenter or handyman shore up an exterior railing that leads to a deck, while replacing an entire interior railing could cost several thousand, depending on the type of materials involved.
Wooden and metal stair systems are supported by stringers that are secured to the top and bottom of the stairway opening, and may also be supported by a framing structure. Repairing structural damage in any setting is fairly complicated since access is often limited, and when dealing with an interior staircase, some demolition of drywall, trim, or other surfaces is usually required, increasing the scope of the job considerably.
Poured concrete and site-built masonry stairs are typically solid structures, filled with either concrete or gravel fill, while pre-formed concrete steps are hollow. Though these types of stairs are typically located outdoors and are more easily accessed, extensive demolition or the use of heavy equipment may be needed to correct their position or to rebuild a damaged or degraded foundation. If your project involves improving or rebuilding the structure of your stairs, plan on the job taking at least a full day and costing $500 or more.
Treads and Risers
Treads are the horizontal components of steps that create the walking surface of a staircase and risers are the vertical pieces that separate them. While most are easily accessed for repairs, the type of materials involved often define the price range of the job. Replacing a damaged tread on an outdoor wood staircase could call for about $10 in materials, compared to $40 or more for an interior oak stair tread.
Trim and Finishing
Interior stairways may have intricate trim details, and repairing, replacing, and refinishing them is often more complex than standard trim around windows and doors. The nature of working from the surface of a staircase complicates any job, but if your project involves trim, paint, or refinishing, you can expect the work to cost at least 50 percent more than a similar project on a different surface.
For example, replacing a skirt board on the wall along the bottom of a staircase could take several hours and cost $300 or more. Having a pro install a piece of baseboard trim of the same length might only take a few minutes and cost less than $50.
Preparing for Stair Repairs
Understand the Job
If you are planning to make repairs on your own, be sure you understand the scope of the job as well as any related building codes that relate to the repair. If you aren’t sure whether or not you need a permit for the work, contact your local code enforcement office or building authority for details. If you hire a pro for the job, make sure your contractor will do the work to code and with permits, if required.
It’s always good to shop around when hiring for a home improvement job so you can get the recommendations of several local pros and compare pricing. Remember that the lowest estimate isn’t always the best one, and the highest isn’t the worst; compare the methods and materials cited in each estimate and hire a pro with the right skills and experience for the job.
If your repair involves finish work, don’t be afraid to ask contractors to provide photos of previous jobs so you can see examples of their work. If you aren’t sure what type of pro you need, check with general or remodeling contractors who are familiar with all aspects of home construction and repair.
If the work on your stairs will put them out of service, be sure to find out ahead of time how long they will be off limits. If the project will prohibit access to your main entrance or an entire level of your home for more than a couple of hours, be sure to plan ahead for everything from entry to the house to finding alternate sleeping quarters and stashing items that you may not be able to get to later.
|$300 - $600||$750 - $1,400||$1,200 - $2,400|
Repairing a set of stairs could be a simple DIY project, a professional overhaul, or something in between. If you plan to hire an expert for the job, our examples may help you see how the features of the project will contribute to the price.
Steady As She Goes: $300 - $600
- • Type of Repair: An exterior railing helps ensure safe access to the home, and this example allows for installing a new railing that leads from the ground to a deck or entry door.
- • Skill Level: A project like this is perfect for most carpenters and handymen, but whoever does the work must be sure it is done according to local codes.
- • Materials: Pressure-treated pine is an economical material for a job like this, whether using pre-cut railing components or dimensional lumber that is cut on site.
A New Spring In Your Step: $750 - $1,400
- • Type of Repair: If redecorating plans are halted by the discovery of simple plywood beneath an ugly carpet, rather than beautiful old hardwood, installing new treads and risers is in order.
- • Skill Level: This job calls for advanced carpentry skills and could take an hour or more per step, especially if the staircase is open and existing trim elements must be removed or replaced.
- • Materials: Finishing the staircase with stain-grade hardwood makes the materials the greatest portion of the budget on this job; about $50 to $80 per step.
It’s All In the Details: $1,200 - $2,400
- • Type of Repair: When it’s necessary to replace a loose and damaged railing, it’s the perfect time to upgrade to a whole new style or type. Removal of the old balusters, posts, and handrail, plus site preparation, installation, and trim work make this a complex project.
- • Skill Level: Since this work must be done to code and involves finish carpentry, an experienced trim or finish carpenter is best suited for the job. The job may take two pros a full day or two, making labor the largest share of the cost.
- • Materials: The components for an entire new wood railing system, related hardware, fasteners, and trim commonly cost between $400 and $800.
Level of Difficulty
Some basic stair repair projects require only beginning to intermediate-level skills, but the requirements of the job may depend on the type of staircase, the materials involved, and the nature of the repair. Most common repair tasks can be completed by a handyman, carpenter, or contractor, but you may need a specialist if your project involves masonry, tile, or restoration work.
Stairway Repair Services
If you have decided to leave your stairway repair job in the hands of a capable professional, connect with a trusted Stairway Repair Pro to get the job underway. The experts in our network of providers have been background checked, and have verified credentials, experience, and service offerings so you can be assured you are hiring a contractor who is not just qualified for the job, but is properly licensed and insured as required by your home state.