Open Staircase To Finished Attic, No Rails, And Ledge Issue At The Top - Carpentry - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum
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Old 03-12-2016, 12:16 AM   #1
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Open Staircase to Finished Attic, No Rails, and Ledge Issue at the Top


The previous owners had an attic refinished, but left the stairs not up to code. You can see what I'm talking about in the attached pictures. I was wondering if you guys had any interesting ideas of what you would do to make the stairs not look too ugly but also keeping it safe.

Currently, there are 3 issues:
1. Stair is open on side, needs to be closed off
2. No handrails at all, need to add something for safety
3. Builder/owners made ledges on each side at the top of the attic with carpet and metal edging strips, need to close off for safety


I've never built anything with balusters or posts, but have attached handrails. Here are my thoughts so far on this project:

- Add post and balusters to close off the open stair side, need post since max height is 52" at highest point, and standard balusters are usually max 44" tall I think. This may be tricky to work around this, but the stairs are steep enough I think to compensate.. Do I need to add a ceiling trim or moulding to attach the ballusters, or just drill through the ceiling directly?

- I may be open to metal baluster ideas. They look nice, but I'm not sure yet.

- Upstairs is a headache. I was thinking about just adding some posts& balusters and a rail perhaps, but posts go for $80 minimum each, so I'm leaning away from that idea, unless there is something I'm missing here.

- I'm now thinking about some way to close off the wall, maybe just build a new wall and drywall it out on both sides up to the edge. That will make it easier to attach the handrail all the way up one side. It's a lot more work though, but if there is no other way I think I'm up for it. This requires me to spend way more time for this house than I anticipated (just bought the house, thought it might take like a week or two).

Some questions:
- Do you think building the sides up like 3-4' and making higher ledges would be a feasible idea? I'm just trying to see which way would save me time and money, since this is just a rental.
- How hard is it to match the thickness of the drywall to the current wall? I noticed they put some trim at the top as well, I may just keep that trim there.


Thanks a lot for your input,
Mike

p.s. Sorry if pics are not rotated correctly, something is wrong with the new Windows 10
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Last edited by BigJim; 03-12-2016 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 03-12-2016, 08:21 AM   #2
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Re: Open Staircase to Finished Attic, No Rails, and Ledge Issue at the Top


Hi Mike. " I'm just trying to see which way would save me time and money, since this is just a rental." Being a rental increases your obligation to follow all codes, and in my town limits what I can do vs hiring a licensed contractor, like electrical.

In your case, being a rental means everything needs to meet codes and be covered by permits and inspections. A finished attic space will have some requirements all by itself.

Before you start spending money to get this train moving, make sure it is on the right track.

Bud

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Old 03-12-2016, 07:52 PM   #3
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Re: Open Staircase to Finished Attic, No Rails, and Ledge Issue at the Top


Yup, checked the codes. They allow a homeowner to do minor carpentry work like this in the home without pulling any permits. The only thing I am not sure of is the ledges, since it states it nowhere in the code at all. Except for one part where it says safety rails are required anywhere where an adult can walk normally. This ledge is way too narrow for an adult to walk on normally, so I can just ignore this part.

I drew up a little of what I was thinking to close off the wall. Either add a rail or not, basically. Any thoughts or ideas yet?
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Open Staircase to Finished Attic, No Rails, and Ledge Issue at the Top-design-1-railing.jpg   Open Staircase to Finished Attic, No Rails, and Ledge Issue at the Top-design-2-only-balusters.jpg   Open Staircase to Finished Attic, No Rails, and Ledge Issue at the Top-ceiling-rail-600x450.jpg   Open Staircase to Finished Attic, No Rails, and Ledge Issue at the Top-dsc_9817.jpg  
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Old 03-12-2016, 08:40 PM   #4
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Re: Open Staircase to Finished Attic, No Rails, and Ledge Issue at the Top


Mike,
I like the second last pic best. Keep in mind though, the reason the previous owner left everything open was to fascilitate getting furniture upstairs. I don't know how feasible it would be to somehow make that section of railing removable, but would maybe make it easier on the renters with less damage every time someone different moves in.
Mike Hawkins
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Old 03-13-2016, 10:27 AM   #5
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Re: Open Staircase to Finished Attic, No Rails, and Ledge Issue at the Top


I vote from the full length as well. Those little buggers are short and steep. If that were me in that home, I would put a net at the bottom as well.
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