|Ask Norm: Close up A Stair Gap|
David: Question: All along the stairway on one side, a big gap has open up between the cap molding and the angled baseboard below it. The gap wasn't there when we moved in 10 years ago. What can I do about it?
Thom Weller, Ringwood, N.J.
Norm Replies: An even gap above the skirtboard (the angled baseboard-like trim beside the stair) probably means that the skirtboard, the stair stringer (the framing that supports the stair), or both dried out and shrank after they were installed. If that's the case, and the gap has stayed the same for the past few years, then the wood has probably stabilized enough for the gap to be closed. That's a project you can do yourself. But if the gap keeps getting wider, there may be a structural weakness that needs to be fixed. Call a remodeling contractor to come have a look.
Assuming that the stair doesn't have structural problems, I think the best solution would be to gently pry the cap molding off the wall and reinstall it tight to the skirtboard. To do this without damaging the wall, put a wide putty knife behind the cap and slip a molding pry bar between the cap and knife?s blade. Now use these tools to work the cap free a little at a time along its entire length. Once the cap is off, you'll see that it is studded with finishing nails, which you can remove by pulling them through the cap with a pair of nippers. After you reinstall the cap, fill the joints with latex caulk.