Quite often, we are asked what saw blades to use when cutting prefinished stair treads to achieve the best cut.  Proper saw blade selection, along with a few basic cutting techniques will save a lot of touch-up work during installation.

Cutting Stair TreadsFor starters, to cut a full 11-1/2" stair tread, a 12" sliding miter saw is best.  This will allow you to make a full 12" cut in one pass.  Using a 10" or smaller saw that doesn't slide means you'll have to make two cuts on each side of the tread and is very difficult to achieve a quality cut. There are more and more store-brand inexpensive 10" sliding saws available now that do a nice job of making 12" cuts at 90° as well.

Diablo Fine-Finish Blade
In the field, you'll be making a much more precise cut, so we strongly recommend using a finer finish blade, with a greater tooth count, such as the 100 tooth blade for 12" saws
90 tooth Saw Blade
The smaller diameter blades will have a smaller tooth-couth to be considered a "Fine Finish Blade"

The higher the tooth count of the blade, the slower the speed of cut needs to be to maintain a quality edge.

In the shop. we do A LOT more cutting than even a high volume installer so we have to balance the speed of the cut with the quality, so we use a little more aggressive blade than what you may want to use in the field.

In my experience, the Diablo line of saw blades seem to perform well and maintain their sharpness for a while so, in our shop, we use 12" 80-tooth Diablo combination blades:

Diablo Combination Blade


We have found these to make an acceptable quality cross-cut, while still giving us some minor rip-cut capability. (Cross-cutting is a cut perpendicular to the grain whereas rip cut is with the grain.) With the 60-tooth blade, there is still some chipping and grain tear-out but all our cuts are over-length (by typically around 3/4") so we can afford some minor chipping or tear-out.

Cut slowly, and don't force the blade through the wood; let the saw do the work and remember:

Measure Twice, cut once

Happy installing!