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Old 07-05-2009, 12:34 AM   #1
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Questions about building stairs.


I just bought a house and tomorrow is "D" day for the basement. I'm tearing down everything. the previous owner built the house from the ground up. he built a really nice house but he did cut some corners and I'm just not cool with that.

Anyways, About the stairs. Im pretty sure he knew ahead of time that he was going to carpet the stairs because he did a very sloppy job building them. I dont want carpeted stairs because basements are usually moist. I am shooting for nice solid wood stairs.

He used two different types of wood, pine(i think) for the stringers and treads and partical board for the risers. The stairs is falling apart. The partical board is shot from moisture. The stairs need to be torn down.

Now. I am very new to building anything. I only have simple questions. I have done a good amount of reading on building stairs. But I do have some questions.

#1: Im building the stairs along side a wall. From the videos and pic I have see online. It's appears that the stringer closest to the wall is not fastened to the wall/ beams. Why? The skirt board get nailed to the wall why not the stringer?

#2: What is the purpose of the skirt board? More visual the structural? I am thinking that it's sole purpose is to cover up the gap between the treads/ risers and the wall and thats it. I read that a few people like to use it for both. Whats ideal?

#3: For creating solid hardwood stairs whats better,... using a single thicker piece of nice hardwood for the treads and risers or build the stairs using a cheaper everyday woodand then just cap the tread and risers with maybe a thinner piece of nice hardwood? Maybe use a 3/4" pine with a 3/4" something nice on top of that for the tread and risers?

#4: Typically, how thick should the treads be?

#5: How do I fasten the lower end of the stairs to the cement? Is there nails for cement like whats found on tack strips for carpet?

#6: how many treads at a typical angle before I need to brace the center of he stringers?

Thanks in advance guys. Oh real quick,... the previous owner glued carpet to the concrete. I remove the carpet but a lot of the glue was left behind on the cement. I bought a 1 gallon container of goof off and tried to remove it witha spackle knife. I was only able to scrape off the bulk top surface and that 1 gallon container only covered a small area. I have to wire brush what the spackle knife doesnt get and I have to use more goof off to do that. I will need several several gallon of that stuff and loads of time to get it all. Is there an easier way?!?!?!

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Old 07-05-2009, 08:22 AM   #2
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Questions about building stairs.


There's no need to nail the stringers to the wall or the floor. Stair treads are a standard 1 1/8" thick. For a 36" wide staircase I would use 3 stringers so no need for middle bracing unless you intend to carry very heavey items up and down. Skirt board is just a visual ascetic.
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Old 07-05-2009, 08:36 AM   #3
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Questions about building stairs.


You said you were "very new to building anything". I would caution you that stair building is somewhat of a specialty carpentry task and unless you consider yourself an "expert" DIYer I would suggest you hire a pro.

If you want to do it yourself Ron pretty much ansered your questions.

I would caution you to consult your local building codes to determine if a third stringer is required. Use a good hardwood, not pine, for the threads and risers. If painting you could use poplar.

Good luck.
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Old 07-05-2009, 12:42 PM   #4
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Questions about building stairs.


Here's how to fasten the bottom of the stringers. Secure the PT 2x4 (the red piece) down to the floor first, then fasten the stringers to the 2x4.

These heights are not too accurate, but you can see the idea. (And, yes, there any number of ways to accomplish this with the 2x4 never showing at all..... that's one of the reasons you do need some carpentry skills to do this sort of thing. Consider this rough drawing just a guide to getting an understanding of how to lock in a lower portion of stair stringers.... NOT a working drawing to try and emulate.)
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Old 07-05-2009, 02:09 PM   #5
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Questions about building stairs.


Well,... I read about a lot of the codes online. I dont know how many apply to my area but I figure I would just follow all the codes to be safe.

I plan on using a thrird stringer regardless of whether of not I need too. I like the idea of supporting the center of the stairs.

I dont plan on carrying anything heavy up or down the stairs because I can easily access the basement with a sliding door I have down here. My house is on a slight hill.

Hiring a pro is out of the question. I would rather do it myself. That usually how I am. I am very good with my hands.

So there no reall neeed to fasten the string to the basement floor or walls? I guess the weight of the stairs is enough to keep it in place.

So for the tread and risers I should just use good soild hardwood with a standard thickness of 1.25" instead of using .75" thick cheaper wood and then gluing/ nailing a better .75" thick hardwood to that?

Thanks for your help guys. I will post some pics of my progress if you want. everyone loves pics
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Old 07-05-2009, 02:50 PM   #6
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Questions about building stairs.


I have never not fastened the outside stringers to the studs, except on decks. (old school, 36 years experience) When you fire-block the stud wall at the stair plane line, you don't want a gap there (stringer/stud). Also, the stringer would move with use and not the skirt.

The stair skirt's main purpose is to protect the wallboard from shoe marks, secondary is looks.

Protect the stinger's bottom seat cuts with felt or plastic from wicking moisture out of concrete.

Add a 2x4 sistered to side of center stringer,for added rigidity and strength.

Yet another code book: http://www.stairways.org/pdf/2006%20...C%20SCREEN.pdf

Look for "limited preview" at the bottoms: http://books.google.com/books?ei=8h0...G=Search+Books

Be safe, G
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Old 12-19-2012, 02:31 PM   #7
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Questions about building stairs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by GerryinBelleRiv View Post
You said you were "very new to building anything". I would caution you that stair building is somewhat of a specialty carpentry task and unless you consider yourself an "expert" DIYer I would suggest you hire a pro.

If you want to do it yourself Ron pretty much ansered your questions.

I would caution you to consult your local building codes to determine if a third stringer is required. Use a good hardwood, not pine, for the threads and risers. If painting you could use poplar.

Good luck.
Building stairs can be challenging for sure. I'm using a code approved stair bracket system that is a really easy install. They're super strong and I'm using them all the time now for my stair jobs. I highly recommend them for diy folks too.

Last edited by BigJim; 02-20-2013 at 06:43 PM. Reason: Link deleted
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:04 PM   #8
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Questions about building stairs.


There are different types of stringers, and the treads are usually 1" stock or 5/4". Stringers are usually made with 2x12 but single stringer is usually not enough, because a lot of wood is cut out for tread and riser. A wall on the side or beneath must support the stringers. If current stringer that is against the concrete wall is standing by itself, it is not adequate.

When cutting the tread and risers, you must account for the total height (taking into account finish material of existing upper landing), required tread width and riser height, and especially the kind of finish material for the basement floor, because it changes the riser height. You have to plan for hand rail as well, and having the blocks in right places for the rail bracket to screw into.

I would recommend going to the library, get a book on building stairs, and draw a plan that includes all rough and finish material. Only then you can start the cutting.

I learned by apprenticing for carpenters and them showing me how to build one. I had forgotten half when I built my own, but careful planning can overcome inexperience.

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