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Old 10-11-2013, 11:57 AM   #46
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Stair stringer question...


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Originally Posted by Millertyme View Post
They should have a curve to match the curve of the stringer. That you will have the same overhang
I understand what you mean, however I just don't see that in pics of other staircases which confuses me even more. Is it because my stairs were built to have a metal handrail instead of wood balusters?

That curve will also make it difficult to measure for when I will eventually put in wood balusters and a wood handrail. I think I need to build up that exterior stringer a bit to make it thicker.

I just wanted to mention I do have some background in woodworking and plenty of tools (router, planer, table saw, jointer). Although I know not all of them are used when working on a staircase.

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Old 10-11-2013, 01:23 PM   #47
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Stair stringer question...


Most radius stairs have a return on the end of the treads and most installers don't take the time to make the returns a radius to match the curve of the stairs. Your stairs do not have a return, who ever installed them just cut the end of the tread off and made a curve then routed a nosing on it leaving the end grain exposed.

On the squeak, it looks like there is a gap between the riser and the bottom of the treads on your stairs, using the syringe idea, you could insert the syringe under the tread as far as you could and us Gorilla glue between the stringers and treads. Gorilla glue expands so it may stop the squeaks then go with the trim screws.

If the squeak is between the inside skirt and tread you may be able to angle the trim screws into the skirt. Be sure to have someone stand very close to the area you plan to screw, that way you don't have to depend on the screw to pull the tread down only, the extra weight will help.

Millertyme, I don't believe I have ever seen spindles painted and stained like that.

Another thought, when you do install wooden spindles (some of us real old timers call balusters spindles), the outside edge if the spindles should be flush or directly above, with the outside of the skirt. Just use a tri square to locate the edge of the spindle.
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Old 10-11-2013, 01:44 PM   #48
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Stair stringer question...


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Most radius stairs have a return on the end of the treads and most installers don't take the time to make the returns a radius to match the curve of the stairs. Your stairs do not have a return, who ever installed them just cut the end of the tread off and made a curve then routed a nosing on it leaving the end grain exposed.

On the squeak, it looks like there is a gap between the riser and the bottom of the treads on your stairs, using the syringe idea, you could insert the syringe under the tread as far as you could and us Gorilla glue between the stringers and treads. Gorilla glue expands so it may stop the squeaks then go with the trim screws.

If the squeak is between the inside skirt and tread you may be able to angle the trim screws into the skirt. Be sure to have someone stand very close to the area you plan to screw, that way you don't have to depend on the screw to pull the tread down only, the extra weight will help.
Thanks Jim, I will give that a try.

So what would be the proper way for the stairs to look better? Do I remove the treads and cut the ends straight? Or simply buy new treads and install them?
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Old 10-11-2013, 05:07 PM   #49
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Stair stringer question...


This is JMHO, if they were my stairs, I wouldn't do a tear out and replace. If I were going to spend that kind of money, I would hire a really good painter who knows his business, to come out and have him strip the stairs and refinish them.

Those stairs don't look that bad, at least from what I see. I agree they do need refinishing and the squeaks stopped and maybe even install new spindles/balusters and rail but a tear out is a big job and expensive but you know better than anyone what you want and how you want it.
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Old 10-11-2013, 06:22 PM   #50
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Stair stringer question...


Unless you really love pain and suffering leave them as is.

I mean leave them as is, after you dress them up with nice moldings and fix the squeaks
etc...as previously discussed.

Refinish them yourself. All you need is a hand sander.

Then you can either stain them or leave them natural.
Then apply the poly.
Stairs are not hard to refinish, we re-did ours ten years ago,
when we refinished our old floors. We stained them
to match the existing floors.

Are you leaving the risers wood or are
you painting them?

Are you going to install a carpet runner
up the middle?

What are your floors like in the
rest of the house/foyer?

What kind of new wood rail are you doing?

Big Jim, I call the balusters --spindles...Does that
mean I'm old??? Oh, never mind, I forgot, I am old.

Last edited by Two Knots; 10-11-2013 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 10-11-2013, 08:38 PM   #51
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Stair stringer question...


The rest of my floors are oak, which I will be refinishing soon. I plan to leave them natural which is what I would want to do with the stairs as well....just a nice clear varnish.

I plan on using General Finishes Enduro Var, maybe some of you have heard of it before. It has an amber color like the traditional oil based finishes.

I spoke to my wife, she would prefer to have the stringers in oak.

I will take your advice and not rip everything apart, however the big question is...can I put an oak veneer along the wall stringer and make it look good without removing the treads?

I also plan on installing a wood rail. What is the general approach when making a curved one? From what I see it is thin strips which are glued and clamped together to make a curve. How thick do they need to be 1/4" or less to make them bendable?
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Old 10-11-2013, 10:39 PM   #52
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Stair stringer question...


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The rest of my floors are oak, which I will be refinishing soon. I plan to leave them natural which is what I would want to do with the stairs as well....just a nice clear varnish.

I plan on using General Finishes Enduro Var, maybe some of you have heard of it before. It has an amber color like the traditional oil based finishes.

I spoke to my wife, she would prefer to have the stringers in oak.

I will take your advice and not rip everything apart, however the big question is...can I put an oak veneer along the wall stringer and make it look good without removing the treads?

I also plan on installing a wood rail. What is the general approach when making a curved one? From what I see it is thin strips which are glued and clamped together to make a curve. How thick do they need to be 1/4" or less to make them bendable?
It is going to be one tough job veneering either skirt but the inside one will be the hardest, all it takes is one slip and you have wasted a lot of veneer. It is going to be hard to cover that skirt without removing the treads but it depends on how bad you or your wife wants it.

The rails can be bought, they are called bending rail. You are right they do come in strips but they aren't just strips, they are made to glue up without sliding all over the place. If you were to glue up just strips you would have a tough time keeping them from slipping out of place because the rail just don't bend it twists also.

One thing you may want to think of when thinking of building the rail yourself. I don't know how other stair builders build their rails, I can only tell you how I did. On a 8 foot ceiling stairs it will take 64 "C" clamps to build the rail. You will have to buy the mold that is used on the outside of the rail to clamp without ruining the rail.

This is how I built the rails, make 2X4s in and "L" shape, the bottom leg is 10 inches or so, the upright leg is approximately 4 or 5 inches. You will need to make them very strong as they will have some pressure on them. You will need one bracket per tread. The brackets are clamped flush with the front edge of the riser. The inside of the upright leg will flush with the outside of the skirt. The mold that is on the outside of the rail won't make any difference if it pushes the rail a fraction of an inch inward away from the face of the skirt.

Once you have the brackets clamped in place, the fun part starts, once the rail is all glued up you have about 20 minutes to have the rail clamped in place. It wouldn't hurt to have a couple of folks to help. Use a roller to apply the glue because you need to get it glued as soon as you can.

Once you have all the strips glued, wrap the rail in wax paper then apply the outside mold. Start at the bottom, clamp the rail so it runs wild as to have enough to attach to any fittings or to the post you have to add.

Work your way up the stairs, and make sure the rail is down against the "L" brackets, they can not ride up, they have to touch in the inside corner of the bracket. Clamp snugly not so tight as to starve the joints of glue. Continue on up the stairs until all is clamped in place. Go back and make the clamps a little tighter and make sure the rail didn't ride up anywhere.

When all is clamped in place tear the wax paper off the top and bottom as well as you can. Be sure there is something to catch any drips of glue that may want to hit the treads. The paper needs to be torn away so the glue will dry. Remove as much glue as you can while it is wet, you will be glad you did.

Let dry over night. Before you unclamp the rail, now is the time to make your marks and figure where your fittings will go or the cut to fit your posts, top and bottom. Once the rail is removed it is pretty tough to mark the rail as it should be, clamped in place sure does make it easier, at least for me it did. I made my marks right on the forms or mold on the outside of the rail. I made sure I re clamped the molding or form on the outside so I could move the rail to the miter saw to cut. Do clamp the form or mold so it doesn't move, so the cuts will be accurate. In other words, clamp the form or mold to the rail before you take all the clamps off the brackets.

Now for some more fun, using a paint scraper, scrap the excess glue off the top and bottom of the rail.
Be careful not to damage the rail while scraping the glue off. Once the excess is removed, then it is time to sand and get ready for the fittings. I hope I remembered this right, it has been a while since I build a radius stairs. Sorry for the long post.
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Old 10-12-2013, 08:55 PM   #53
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Stair stringer question...


All sounds pretty good to me Jim. Bending rail works really well and I think is a great product and easy to use. Even though the rail locks together be mindful of it sliding slightly out of square particularly on the ends of a right radius. When clamping try to either start on one end and work your way up without skipping a clamp, or start in the middle and work down and then up. Putting on clamps in random order can often leave gaps that you can't get tight. I use a clamp every 6 inches.

It doesn't look like a prefab bed stair. I'm wondering how well those treads will come up. If they screwed or nailed through the back of the riser into the tread it will be difficult
To Remove. If they used a lot of adhesive under the treads it will be tough too. Without removing those treads veneering will be tough. Now that I think of it you would need to remove the risers too to make it easy, or you would have to scribe around it all.
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Old 10-12-2013, 09:26 PM   #54
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Different strokes for different folks, but if this were mine, I would simply paint the stringers, a contrasting dark color and get rid of that butt ugly wrought Iron railing in favor of a curved oak wood handrail and spindles. The spindles coulld be gloss white or color matched to the stringer. I think this would look much classier. I see people putting in wrought iron nowadays, but I think wood is much warmer.
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:33 AM   #55
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Different strokes for different folks, but if this were mine, I would simply paint the stringers, a contrasting dark color and get rid of that butt ugly wrought Iron railing in favor of a curved oak wood handrail and spindles. The spindles coulld be gloss white or color matched to the stringer. I think this would look much classier. I see people putting in wrought iron nowadays, but I think wood is much warmer.
The wrought iron is not butt ugly. Wrought iron is making a big comeback.
Painting the stringers a dark contrasting color, would in my opinion
not be the best choice, but I wouldn't characterize it as 'butt ugly' because
I don't agree with your suggestion.

If you re-read the thread you may catch on the second read -- that changing the
rail, newel post, and spindles to wood is actually the OP's intention.

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Old 10-13-2013, 12:13 PM   #56
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The wrought iron is butt ugly. Wrought iron is making a big comeback.
Painting the stringers a dark contrasting color, would in my opinion
not be the best choice, but I wouldn't characterize it as 'butt ugly' because
I don't agree with your suggestion.

If you re-read the thread you may catch on the second read -- that changing the
rail, newel post, and spindles to wood is actually the OP's intention.
You may be correct. Maybe its the wrought Iron that's bothering him in the first place. He will have plenty of Grain to look at once he replaces the rail, spindles, and posts.
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Old 10-13-2013, 12:30 PM   #57
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You think it looks ugly now...when we moved into the house a few years ago..the iron railing was painted GREEN. We painted it black for now so it's not as much of an eye sore.
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Old 10-13-2013, 03:44 PM   #58
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You think it looks ugly now...when we moved into the house a few years ago..the iron railing was painted GREEN. We painted it black for now so it's not as much of an eye sore.

Oh boy, a triple dose of pain and suffering for sure...
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Old 10-13-2013, 07:34 PM   #59
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My thoughts on wrought iron: very popular now yes, not my favorite look personally. I just feel it will go out of style quick then your stuck looking at it like those avocado toilets
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Old 10-13-2013, 08:11 PM   #60
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Lots of things that go out of style, suddenly come back in.
Remember when wrought iron kitchen sets were in style?

We had the head knots Grandpas wrought iron table in my
secret garden in the backyard for years, one day I took a
second look at it...dragged it out, sanded it, spray painted it,
then we made a new walnut top for it, and it looks so nice,
a timeless look -- in my humble opinion.

Things go out of style, come back in, then go out of style again!
Think about it, things have to go out of style, so that people have
go out and replace things, in short order the new stuff will be
out of style...then the cycle starts again...

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