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Old 06-13-2013, 07:23 AM   #1
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


Hey there guys. The wife and I are doing a lot of renovating/remodeling in our house. We ripped up the old carpeting in the living room and are about to put down laminate flooring. In fact, you guys helped me with another thread I had on that.

Now I need some help and advice regarding my open-riser staircase. We tore off all the carpeting and were trying to think of ways to change the look of the stairs. The wife got a little ahead of me and sanded and primed the stringers, but now I'm really not sure the best way to approach this.

The stairs are cheap treads mortised into the two stringers. A basic, one-piece metal baluster piece is screwed into the outside string with a handrail attached on top. The handrail and stringers are stained and don't look all that great. The space beneath the staircase is open with only a single wall outlet in the middle of the cove beneath. There is a closet located beneath the top three stairs with the door located in the hallway through the passthrough. There is a thermostat on the outside of the closet wall beneath the outside stringer in the living room. The living room is about 21' x 14' and has a tall, asymmetrically vaulted ceiling. The stairs are on the tall 18' wall, the opposite wall of the room is 8' tall.

We would like to install risers (white) and hardwood treads and a handrail that will match the laminate flooring. We would also like to have the stringers painted white to match the trim in the room. As for the balusters, we would like to replace with individual metal balusters, some of which would have the twisted accent piece. We haven't decided whether we want to build a closet under the staircase or just insert a fitted bookshelf.

There are a number of issues with the staircase as it is which I'll need to fix if I proceed with the changes as described. However, I can't help wonder if it would be better to just replace the whole thing. We really like the look of true, white skirtboards against a taupe-colored wall...either with an open or closed staircase.

Any and all advice would be appreciated, and I'll probably have additional questions along the way. Thanks!
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Old 06-13-2013, 07:24 AM   #2
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


Bottom of Staircase
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Old 06-13-2013, 07:26 AM   #3
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


Top 4 Closed-Riser Steps
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Old 06-13-2013, 07:27 AM   #4
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


Landing
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Old 06-13-2013, 07:50 AM   #5
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


I'm not sure the stairs you have now would even meet minimum code.
Ballister spacing is to wide and most inspectors now frown on open treads, and having the underside of stair cases left open like that.
If it was mine I would replace the whole thing and enclose the underside as you suggested.
FYI, I believe you'll find your required there be 5/8 fire code sheetrock on the underside of the stairs.
Building a set of stairs like that is not a great first time DIY project and there's a lot of codes that will need to be met, and you will need a building permit for sure.
I might suggest you hire this one out or even concider a set of factory preassembled stairs so you know they will pass inspection and could be done faster.
I'm sure any of your local real build supply companys would have the info you need. Also check the local yellow pages.
Here's a few local iron railing companys.
http://www.manta.com/mb_55_E031F83O_...ginia_beach_va
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:00 AM   #6
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


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Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
I'm not sure the stairs you have now would even meet minimum code.
I kinda worried about that as well since the house was built in '84.

Ballister spacing is to wide and most inspectors now frown on open treads, and having the underside of stair cases left open like that.
I'll have to measure the baluster spacing once I get home but I want to say their about 6". I truly don't like the open-riser look.

If it was mine I would replace the whole thing and enclose the underside as you suggested.
FYI, I believe you'll find your required there be 5/8 fire code sheetrock on the underside of the stairs.
I've heard about this and will have to check. I'ver heard different things like that only applies to multiple family homes or whatever. I assume this would only be an issue if we chose to close the bottom off completely or like a closet.

Building a set of stairs like that is not a great first time DIY project and there's a lot of codes that will need to be met, and you will need a building permit for sure.
I might suggest you hire this one out or even concider a set of factory preassembled stairs so you know they will pass inspection and could be done faster.
You're probably right, but I know the cost would be a bit much for us at this time. I was hoping it was something we could do prior to putting down the new flooring, unless it wouldn't be too much of a hassle to have it done later. I guess then, it would only be a matter of cutting out portions of the flooring where the stairs meet the floor (concrete slab) and possibly the wall underneath if that's the route we go.

I'm sure any of your local real build supply companys would have the info you need. Also check the local yellow pages.
Here's a few local iron railing companys.
http://www.manta.com/mb_55_E031F83O_...ginia_beach_va
Thanks!
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:14 AM   #7
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


http://www.discountqualitystairs.com/
This site is just something for you to look over to get some ideas.
Stairs need to go in before any flooring goes in.

Anyway to talk you out of laminite flooring?
Is sure is never going to increase the value of the home and not a great selling feature if you ever decided to sell.
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:19 AM   #8
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


If you totaled up all the material cost and time you would be without a set of steps while your tying to figure how to build them, the cost of premade stairs wins hands down.
They can be installed in a few hours not days like a stick built and there all prefastened and sanded for you.
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:26 AM   #9
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


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Anyway to talk you out of laminite flooring?
Is sure is never going to increase the value of the home and not a great selling feature if you ever decided to sell.
Thanks Joe. Unfortunately, we've looked at so many different options and it just came out that the laminate worked out better for us. It also worked with our budget considering everything else we have to do to the house. With every thread I've read here and elsewhere, it seems as though there are pros and cons with just about every type of flooring. So when we decided on the laminate it was because it's not meant to be a permanent solution but should last a while and at least has a 25 years residential warranty. I'm sure we'll end up changing it by then, and we're only talking 2 rooms (living room and dining room). If you look in the pics, it's already stacked up under the stairs, lol.

But out of curiosity, what type of flooring would you have recommended?
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:48 AM   #10
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


Real prefinished hardwood, or a quality engineered flooring, then tile in the entrance way.
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Old 06-13-2013, 11:51 AM   #11
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


If these were mine I would go with what is there. I like the pine look, when cleaned up and finished they don't look bad at all. If you don't want the pine you will have to just about start from scratch, or put carpet strips like in this thread. While your stairs aren't radius like in the pictures in the thread, they would look good. Here is the link to the stairs.
Gulf Island Building.

As Joe said, you will need to replace the rail as the spindles aren't close enough. I would also install paintable risers. You will need a landing tread on your landing, that will cover the gap in the decking also. JMHO
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Old 06-14-2013, 06:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Real prefinished hardwood, or a quality engineered flooring, then tile in the entrance way.
I already have the tile planned for the entrance way at the front door. I'm sure this will help in terms of water and dirt possibly being tracked in from outside. It will be layed in a diamond pattern just like I did in the open kitchen/den and the downstairs bathroom. It took so much longer planning out, cutting, and laying that pattern...but it turned out amazing!

A quality engineered floor is definitely a possibility, but we wanted to go with something temporary for now to see how we like it compared to carpet. We just needed a change and the carpet really needed to be replaced. If we can get 5-7 years out of the laminate, which is a good one from what I've learned, then I'll be happy and we can decide on something a little more permanent at that point. Either way, we know we're gonna be here for quite some time to come and have no intentions of selling.

I do appreciate your input about the flooring though and will probably go that route a little ways down the road. Thanks.
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Old 06-14-2013, 06:54 AM   #13
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


BigJim - Do you mean you like the look of the pine that is already that or do you mean or good, new pine in a quality-built staircase? We definitely would like to have finished wood treads in a color that will match the flooring, and white painted risers. Aside from ripping this staircase out and building from scratch, the only options I can come up with by working with what I have would be to (also see picture):

1. Cut off the front and back nosing of the treads.
2. Install a riser backer attached through the back edge of the lower tread and though the top of the upper tread.
3. Install a paintable riser with liquid nails and finishing nails
4. Top it off with a hardwood tread cover with nosing

I did originally look at regular thickness hardwood treads to go over the top of the old treads (they look like very cheap construction grade wood). But the thickness would cause the first tread to be at a nearly 9" rise, and the last tread at the top would shrink to about a 7" rise. All the others in between would still have a rise of 8".

For the spindles, I imagine I can pull of the one-piece railing to begin with. Then, I should have enough space on the outside stringer to drill holes for the spindle lower ends, right? How else could I dress this up since it's really nothing more than a plain 2"x12" board? I've seriously considered attaching about 1/2"x2" trim around aligned around the outside perimeter to give it a recessed look and then paint the stringers white.
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Old 06-14-2013, 09:08 AM   #14
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Open-Riser Staircase Help - Convert or Rebuild?


I did a lot of Restoration work in my career and learned to love the look of old pine treads but I can see you want something a little more formal. Just speaking as if I were doing this for myself: Since you are building a wall under the stairs you could fully enclose under the stairs and use the wall to support the outside stringer. Cut the outside stringer to be an open stringer instead of enclosed. Remove the treads and install red oak, or what ever you like, in place of the pine treads now. Let the treads extend out past the open stringer. Here are a couple of pictures of an open stringer stairs with stair brackets.

You could also do as you are planning with the caps, I am just not a big fan of them.
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Old 06-17-2013, 11:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
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I did a lot of Restoration work in my career and learned to love the look of old pine treads but I can see you want something a little more formal. Just speaking as if I were doing this for myself: Since you are building a wall under the stairs you could fully enclose under the stairs and use the wall to support the outside stringer. Cut the outside stringer to be an open stringer instead of enclosed. Remove the treads and install red oak, or what ever you like, in place of the pine treads now. Let the treads extend out past the open stringer. Here are a couple of pictures of an open stringer stairs with stair brackets.

You could also do as you are planning with the caps, I am just not a big fan of them.
That's part of the issue is that I haven't fully decided whether I want to build a wall under the stairs and fully enclose it (like a closet) or if I just want to slide in a custom-built shelving unit. Still trying to get the wife to decide

If I were to do as you suggested, just so I understand correctly, I would remove the current outside stringer and leave the current inside mortised stringer? I assume I would have to cut the new outside stringer to match the run of the mortise slots.

I'm not exactly a fan of the tread covers/caps either. I was surprised to see how much they were gonna cost and was wondering if replacing the whole staircase would just the better route. Costwise for what I want to do to "remodel" the current staircase (install risers and paintable risers, new treads, balusters, & handrail), it doesn't appear that I would end up spending too much more in the long run.

I really think they just built the crappiest set of 80's style stairs in some of these homes in our neighborhood. I hate these things.

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