My wife is terrified to walk up and down the steps going into our basement because there are not any backs on the steps. Is it easier to take up the top of each step and put a back on it and then recut the top of the step? Or do you recommend another method.
I would not take up the treads to put the risers in; it will just diminish the integrity of the steps. I would put risers on the top of each step going up to the underside of the next step. If that leaves the risers protruding further out than the edge of the step (nosing) you could consider a thinner riser or adding a nosing to each step.