Monday, April 29, 2019

Building a Staircase

Initial Stairway
Stairs are something we normally don't think much about.  They are tasked with the purpose of getting us from one level to another and we don't really think about them.  But building even the basic staircase can be complex.

There are a few things you need to decide before you begin the building task: where to place the staircase, the depth of the treads and the height of the riser and whether you want a straight stairway.  In this case we wanted a straight staircase; in other words no landing until the top. That being said, we allocated space for a 48" staircase on one side of the condo. You enter through a door in the garage to walk up the stairway. 

As soon as we were finished building the garage level, we needed access to the second floor and the initial access was a ladder secured to the 2 x 6 studs.  Going up and down a ladder can be hazardous,  so I was glad when construction of the temporary stairs began.
Temporary Stairs

Stringer construction

  The picture to the left begins the staircase building process. A stringer is a foundation on which the threads and risers sit. It's the first stringer and because our staircase is over 36" wide, we needed three stingers. In the older homes treads, which is the part of the stair you step on, was around 8" or 9", but after the Arts and Crafts period the depth was increased.  Our tread depth is 12" and the riser is 7" high.  The increased depth makes the stairs easier to walk on.

On the right is the completed temporary staircase. The temporary stairs were made out of plywood and various other wood around the garage.  They lasted several months but as you can see they are only one grade better than a ladder. Before we could proceed with anymore work on the upstairs, we  needed a more sturdy staircase. The staircase pictured below is the 48" wide permanent oak staircase. 


48" wide Oak Staircase
Our next big task will be installing drywall.  We protected the stairs from the constant wear that could occur when carrying drywall and other materials up the steps.  Hence, we got a rug and stapled it at various points on the steps and  we have a small rod that lays across the back of each thread.  Once the drywall is in place in the stairwell, we will replace the protective padding with a runner.  Until then though, the stairs need  to be protect

As a K&B designer I don't usually have to calculate space required for a staircase, so I just loved the challenge of this task.  It brought back memories of my days in drafting classes.  So much fun.

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