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Old 06-04-2013, 03:31 PM   #1
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Stair remodel questions


Our existing stairs have a tall wall on the right. We are removing this wall (not structural and open on top) and extending our stairs the width that this wall takes up (about 4-4.5"). Our current stairs are carpeted and we are installing solid wood treads (not retreads, so removing existing subfloor). Attached 3-d CAD drawing shows current stairs approximately. Attached 3-d image with open rail shows where we're going. Adjacent wall in no way impacts the stairs themselves. The builders built it as a separate object entirely. The handrail is being hired out so we are not taking that into consideration at this point.

1. Do we need to add a stringer to allow for the extra width (4-4.5")? Couldn't find any code or forum questions where this is addressed.

2. The new treads will have a right return. Our plan was to buy s3 lumber and glue them up and build them ourselves. However, the return has me a bit worried. Sounds a bit tricky, though I'm super detail oriented. Any advice on this? Looks like 42" maple treads with return cost around $50/tread, so building them ourselves would be a lot cheaper. The three turning steps will need to be built by us anyway.

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Old 06-04-2013, 04:26 PM   #2
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I always installed another stringer flush with the outside of the studs, it gives the tread a place to sit firm and makes everything easier. I noticed there wasn't an outside skirt board on your drawing, that skirt board will cover a lot of thing up and also make life easier.

You can cut the 45° on the right end of your treads and make a return, you must have a router and bit, you are going to make the noise for the treads, so just make a long strip of the return and cut to length.

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Old 06-04-2013, 04:33 PM   #3
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Oh. Yes. I did forget to include it in the drawing. How much space do you allow for the skirt board including or not including the width of the return (your choice)?

Makes sense about the stringer. We were wondering if not having it would compromise stability on the end.

We have a router and cutting bit. Is that better than using miter saws? I've read both methods but we would like the method that is more consistent. Your suggestion to make a long strip and cut to length for the return is excellent. Thank you. What is tread noise?
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Old 06-04-2013, 04:33 PM   #4
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Uh.... what's with the random baluster placement? Are they just sort of drawn in there to give us the idea of about how they'd go?
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Old 06-04-2013, 04:49 PM   #5
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There is a support column that unfortunately goes through the middle of the railing. We can't move it. It's major structural, so we're just going to make it as pretty as possible. Our continuous rail will be on the inside of the stairs instead (not shown).
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Old 06-04-2013, 06:46 PM   #6
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There is a support column that unfortunately goes through the middle of the railing. We can't move it. It's major structural, so we're just going to make it as pretty as possible. Our continuous rail will be on the inside of the stairs instead (not shown).
Cool. But I hope you meant "inside" the support. Going outside will force a person to let go of the railing to get past the support, and that violates code.
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Old 06-04-2013, 07:35 PM   #7
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No. The inside of the stairs = the inside of the "U" shape (imagine a vertical line splitting the U down the middle) and is where the bottom half of the stairs is adjacent the upper half of the stairs. Refer to the image again to see what I'm talking about. There is no support column on the inside of the stairs so a continuous rail is possible. On the outside of the stairs we will break the rail at the support column and continue it on the other side then stop it when it meets the wall. This is NOT our continuous rail and will not violate code by stopping and starting again after the support column.
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Old 06-04-2013, 08:07 PM   #8
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There will need to be some trick rail work to make the inside rail work' but very do-able.
Are you planing to make whole tread or just appling the return to a ready made tread. Buying raw materials would be much cheaper if you have all the proper equipment to do it with. I always make the return the same width as your overhand. So the joint is at face of stringer
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Old 06-04-2013, 08:21 PM   #9
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We are hiring out the rail and have been told some minimum distances we need to comply with for it to be "doable" and are ok with that. That's where the existing continuous rail is.

For the treads, we were hoping to buy s3 5/4 (can't find full rough by us), laminate it together for depth, plane it down to 1", and cut as needed. Is 5/4 enough to get a full inch out of it? We have various tools and can buy one or two new ones for this project (we gift ourselves a new tool for each new DIY project). I've priced out premade treads, but if doable, we'd still like to do them ourselves since it is less than half the cost.

When you refer to the overhand, I'm assuming you mean overhang. So, the amount the stairs lips over the front edge is equal to the amount it hangs over the right or left side? Does this include the skirt width or would that be in addition to?

Any tips for constructing the return?
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Old 06-04-2013, 08:30 PM   #10
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The over hang in front is usually about 1 1/4 inch from the riser. The end where the return is, will over hang the skirt the same. From the bare studs you will have the thickness of the sheet rock plus the the thickness of the skirt board plus the 1 1/4 inch over hang. Are you going to miter the riser in with the skirt board?
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Old 06-04-2013, 09:31 PM   #11
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Thank you for the explanation. That was nice and clear. Can you please explain what you mean by "miter the riser in with the skirt board"? I hadn't thought about it, which is why I'm here asking I'm assuming that prevents end grain showing. The skirt will be painted but the risers won't. Does the riser normally end at the skirt, or would it extend slightly?
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Old 06-04-2013, 09:44 PM   #12
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Thank you for the explanation. That was nice and clear. Can you please explain what you mean by "miter the riser in with the skirt board"? I hadn't thought about it, which is why I'm here asking I'm assuming that prevents end grain showing. The skirt will be painted but the risers won't. Does the riser normally end at the skirt, or would it extend slightly?
That means the riser will will have a sharp outer vertical edge where it meets the skirt board... which also has a matching sharp outer bevel. This way, you see no board ends where they make their 90° turn into each other. It will look like a finished cabinetwork corner.

This pic shows it best.
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Old 06-04-2013, 09:59 PM   #13
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Ok. That makes sense. That might simplify some things with the trim. Any advice on how to make a return that is both consistent and pretty? I've seen the curved versions and the mitered versions but am not exactly sure how to go about it. Do you build a template first?
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:04 PM   #14
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It's a bit tricky. But you are smarter than the wood.

Assuming you are working with identical thicknesses of wood, each point of matching return is cut an extra thickness long... then both are back-beveled.

Often you have to do some notching for the rears of the treads...

The new "Multi tools" really help with much of this job.
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:10 PM   #15
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Willie is right on, there is another way which is easier but cost more. You can run the riser to the outside edge of the skirt board, this will show the raw edge of the riser which you don't want. There is a part called a stair bracket that will cover the raw edges of the risers. Do a google and it will bring up all types of stair brackets.

I was a little slow posting that time

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