Stair Tread

During a recent inspection where the builder used laminate flooring on the stairs, I found a condition that needs an answer. The question is about the 3" bullnose used on the leading edge of the tread, it was about 1/6 - 1/8 of an inch higher than the body of the tread. To me it appeared to be a trip hazard, if your heal got caught on it going down. I looked in the Florida code and IRC and could not find anything about the tread. Does anyone have more information on this issue.

Look on page 3. There is a 2% height variation that is allowed. Not sure how you would actually measure it, but it may help with your arguement.


the file was too big to upload - I sent you an email.


I think this same question was raised earlier this year. Try searching above.

This link will answer all your questions regarding stair construction…

Good one thanks David.


The slope issue may cover this but it is the tread surface that is in question. please look at link to see photo.
maybe this will help you guys understand my situation.

Here is a recent discussion on the same issue.

Did you measure the rails to see if any of the openings are wider than 4 inches??

Notify your client through report documentation of the obvious and let others figure out the remedy. No code reference necessary.

Here is the '06 IRC stair code:

"My opinion and experience has been that laminate flooring stairs are hazardous for a number of reasons. The list below is not all inclusive.

  1. The nosing material forms a deflected uneven tread surface, this is a known tripping hazard.
  2. Stairs traversed in stockings, socks, high heels, and slick soled shoes can cause slipping hazard."
    Falls in the home:


  • In 1990, nearly 1 million people required hospital room treatment for falls on stairs and steps. It is as important to keep your stairs in good repair as it is your floors.
  • Keep stairs and steps well lit and free of objects. Good lighting is cheap insurance for safety in all traffic areas, especially stairs. Make sure that light switches are accessible from the top and bottom of the stairway. See Figure 1.
  • Fasten any stair coverings securely.
  • Provide sturdy handrails.
  • Carry loads that are small enough to not block your vision and allow you a free hand.
  • Take your time when going up or down stairs.
  • Don’t use stairways to store boxes, tools, equipment or odds and ends, even temporarily.
  • Use extra care going up or down stairs when wearing high heels, house slippers, long dresses or robes.
  • Never use small rugs at the top or bottom of stairways.
  • For extra caution, paint the top and bottom steps white. Or, put white stripes on the front edges of steps.
  • Mix sand with paint for a rough, non-slip surface on basement or outdoor steps.
    *]Keep a flashlight handy when using poorly lit stairways.

The surface of the bull nose and tread* (T&G) should* be at the same level. Maybe the installer used one brand (ex: Armstrong®) bull nose and another brand (ex: TrafficMaster®)laminate for the tread. This might explain the thickness variation.

Another thought: the installer did something to raise the bull nose, either inadvertently, (e.g., too much adhesive), or on purpose, perhaps thinking this would prevent *slipping. *

This is a case where the cure is worse than *the disease. *The installer could remove the material used to *build up *the bull nose, thus making the tread surface level. [Lots of luck removing the construction adhesive!]

Finally, the installer may have used *over-the-top step edge *on the individual treads. This is to be used for a step down or landing, not individual treads.

It appears to be a safety issue, even if the codes don’t specifically address this.

Thank Guys
I’ve only been Home Inspecting for just over a year. You guy’s scare the hell out of me with all the talk of law suits and I don’t need more problems.

Be afraid, be very afraid.:smiley:
Happy Inspecting


Write it up in your report.
The Builder would be crazy not to address this situation on his own, much less when you write it up in your report.
Builders get lazy thinking some time, especially close to “Closing a sale”.

If you’re thorough with your inspections, befriend all your clients and have an (attorney approved) contract signed by your client, and don’t mention or annotate codes…there’s nothing to be afraid of. Observe and Report and stay out of Court.

I remember being a newbie and very nervous. I simply noted every defect that I observed and kept my clients well informed of their prospective home. I’ve yet to see an unhappy client.