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sdba 02-08-2010 12:55 AM

Staircase help please!!!
I am trying to renovate my staircase and have several questions on structure and finishing that I hope someone will be able to answer. Iím sorry that my letter is so long and my questions kind of stupid. Iím a newbie at DIY. I still have all my husbandís tools and Iím willing to learn. If you could please be as specific and detailed as possible on what you think I could do I would really appreciate it.

So far I have removed both half walls that run beside the stringers on the lower half of staircase. A person at HD just told me that the walls I removed were necessary to support the staircase. I canít understand why that would be right but should I rebuild those 2x4 walls?
A metal railing person is going to weld the pickets to a 1 Ĺ" iron bottom rail and handrail and attach the bottom rail to the stringers. I have to have the stringers ready for him to template.

The 2x4 and drywall under the stringer (form basement stair wall and ceiling) are about 5/8 inch proud of the stringer. The stringer is 1 Ĺ inch wide (2x10) What is the best way to build out the stringer so that I can trim it nicely and economically? Should I glue and screw 5/8" plywood or solid wood along the whole length of stringer and add molding at the join or just use spacer strips to make the stringer flush with the drywall and then drywall the whole area with ľ"? What would be the best way to cap the stringer so the unfinished edge wonít show under the bottom rail?

I would also like to cut back the stringer to give the look of the curtain step as shown in my Ďvision pictureí but Iím afraid that this might jeopardize the structural integrity of the staircase. My treads are inset into the stringer.

The horizontal cut line would be level with the first step. I plan on buying a hardwood tread that could be fastened across the extended width of the first step. The 2 vertical cuts would be even with the first riser, and 3-4" in front of the second riser. This would allow me to set the newel back about half the depth of my new curtain step tread. I assume the railing guy will bolt the iron newel post to the new front edge of the stringer or screw a base plate under the tread cap. Will removing this section of the stringer affect the structural integrity of the staircase?

Could I reinforce the stringer by gluing and screwing a piece of plywood either to the whole length of the stringer or just to this area, or screw a metal plate or L bracket to the stringer and/or subfloor, or should I forget about building a curtain step and just cut back the stringer to the edge of the bullnose on first step and attach the newel post at that point?

Can I make the curtain step by extending the width of the first step by about 2-3 inches on each side by gluing and nailing 2x6ís on edge to the side of the stringer or would a plywood box be better? I would have to add another 1" to make this extension level with existing tread, and then add the new tread and MDF riser and trim.

I also need help on the best way to trim out the staircase and prepare the stringers for the railing.

That area between the stringer and the vertical 2x4 at the winder box is just a dirt collector and the spindle at the winder is broken because a piece of the stringer has broken off. Would it look better if I built out the stringer to the same height and width as the 2x4 with a solid piece of pine? If the 2x4 was cut straight across the bottom rail could be bent, mitred at the 2x4 where it changes direction then bent again to make a continuous rail from top to bottom. Or would it look better to have wood trim between that vertical 2x4 and the wall rather than a continuous iron rail.

The last picture is the top of the stairs. The railing person will be elevating the railing on the second floor with metal newel posts attached to the subfloor with metal plates. Is it possible for the top of the stringer on the outside to be cut off flush with the subfloor? It looks to me as if the stringer is notched for attachment to the joists rather than attached to the joists with a hanger board. However I donít see any nails.
Thanks for any help.


Dairylander 02-09-2010 05:47 AM

Shannon, the multitude and complexity of your questions on this project don't lend themselves well to getting advice over the internet.
I'd suggest you shop around for a carpenter that is a good teacher and wouldn't mind showing you what he's doing while he works on your stairs.
Be sure to ask if he will work on an hourly basis, and be clear about your involvement in the process.
Good luck.

Blondesense 02-09-2010 12:47 PM


A person at HD just told me that the walls I removed were necessary to support the staircase.
And be very skeptical of anything told to you by the "big box" people. They are rarely experts and often know just enough to be confused and confusing.

Bud Cline 02-09-2010 12:58 PM

I would agree with Dairylander, that's some pretty good advice in this case. I will tell you that the walls you removed appear to have been only cosmetic and the stairs integrity appears to rely on the original stringers that are still in tact. Try not to ask any more questions of the HD folks, doing so can only get you into trouble.

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