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Old 09-05-2008, 05:45 PM   #1
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


Hey all -- we're in the midst of converting our basement into a recording studio. The original entrance is an outdoor staircase that leads around to the back of the house, but we wanted quicker access and decided to make a "hatch" system from upstairs.

The hole is cut and we're using a ladder -- however, after using it for awhile, we're considering some kind of stairway. The widest point between the house supports is 21", and the corner we selected allowed the other dimension to be 20" (thanks to a nearby fireplace), so the final opening is 21"x20". The top of the hole is about 8' high, and the bottom of the beam 7.5'. The opening starts at about 1.5' from one wall and 1' from the other (from downstairs).

My question is, is some sort of staircase possible here? We're thinking about a very compact spiral, but we're wondering if this is even an option considering the space. We're not terribly concerned about aesthetics, and we're fairly versatile builders. What can we make here?

I do appreciate your help and input!

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Old 09-06-2008, 01:23 AM   #2
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


T Bunson, a spiral stair will not work in this small space as you would not have enough head room as you ascend or descend. I cannot think of a way right off hand that would help you out, I wish I could.

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Old 09-06-2008, 06:34 AM   #3
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


you can go online and look up either Salter Idustries or the Iron Shop they both make custom stair cases and will be able to tell you for sure if one will fit and give you a price
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Old 09-06-2008, 10:19 PM   #4
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


How about a fireman's slide pole?
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Old 09-06-2008, 10:39 PM   #5
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


Bat poles! They had rockets to shoot them back up.

I don't even want to think how they changed into thier "super hero"
outfits while sliding down those poles.

Do you have room to make a "switch back" set of stairs?

This may seem a bit crazy. but a freinds house is 12 feet up on
pilings, for flood reasons (in on the Crystal River in Florida.) We
made a "dumb waiter" out of a garage door opener. That was pretty
easy becasue of the start/stop switches already being part of it.

You'd have to use something with more power, but an elevator would
be pretty neet.

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Old 09-07-2008, 01:47 AM   #6
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


Use an electric winch and make an elevater. http://www.amazon.com/Cummins-Indust.../dp/B000FLX6IM
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Old 09-07-2008, 04:32 PM   #7
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


No, it is not possible or code-legal to install a spiral stair in an opening that small. It just isn't close to large enough.
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Old 09-08-2008, 07:01 PM   #8
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


I appreciate all the helpful and interesting replies!

Would small treads and perhaps a "quarter-turn" setup work? We're more than willing to lean our heads forward a little if it means the convenience of stairs.

thekctermite, is there any "code legal" situation possible here? Maybe not a spiral, but any kind of "walk up" construction? (If not, does our ladder & hatch situation even meet Seattle code in the first place?)

Other than legal concerns, I'm a laid back guy in my 20s, so I'm pretty flexible when it comes to layout. Unfortunately we don't have the budget for an elevator, but I love the fire pole idea... I'll look into it if we can't do stairs.



P.S. Some ideas that look like they might work for us:





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Old 09-08-2008, 10:12 PM   #9
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


The problem with spiral stairs is that you'll never have the headroom. It would create a real problem for you if you decide to sell the place.

That ladder thing in the last picture sure is wild! Honestly, there is no code that I know of that prohibits or governs ladders in residential structures.

Why not make the opening larger to facilitate installation of a well-made, solid, code compliant spiral stair?
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Old 09-09-2008, 02:31 AM   #10
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


Hi thekctermite -- unfortunately we can't make the hole any bigger.... Not only is there an old asbestos vent to the left and a fireplace to the right, but we'd have to cut into support beams. It's a very old cottage and somewhat small too, another reason why we're trying to keep compact!

I forgot to mention that the hole actually begins at about 18" from the wall, so there is a little room for tread diameter. For fun, here is a photo of the actual opening (top and bottom) as well as our "dream" setup:





Is this really impossible to pull off? I know it's not suitable for selling the place, but we could always tear down when that time comes... Hmm!
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Old 09-09-2008, 04:03 AM   #11
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


if you can get 2 more inches in width you could put in an attic stair system.The openning must be at least 22x30 then you would only need to put headers in
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Old 09-09-2008, 04:54 PM   #12
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


What about a slide!



I like the look of your drawing and you have a bigger area for the stairs than you listed in the original post, it looks like that is your hole size.
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Old 09-09-2008, 06:18 PM   #13
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Spiral staircase possible with 20" x 21" opening?


We used a garage door opener for the dumbwater becasue it had everything all built in. The top off switch made it stop inside of a cabinet in the kitchen.

A winch with enough power to lift one or 2 people is not that expenive. WIth the small hole size it would be a one person vator.

You'd want the manual up/down switch like in the old movies when they actually had people running the elevators for you.

The only other thing you'd have to rig up is automatic shut off switches so someone doesnt go too far. Whinches are geared low,for pulling boats onto trailers and the like so you would have to worry about getting shot through the roof.

Harbor Frieght has a 2,000 pound winch that already has the up/down controler built into it, with a nice long cord for all of $69.99. Any electrician could set you up with the auto shut offs. The way they gear whiches you wouldn't drop liike a rockif the power went out, you just get lowered back to the basement.

You could build something a hell of a lot more interesting than a 1/4 turn spiral staircse, that would be a ***** to climb up anyway.

You could change it around. One of those Halloween fog machines would make it look recket powered. Some lighting effects and you could do the proverbial "Beam me up Scotty."

Four uprights and I guess railings on 3 side to keep soemone from flling off, not that it's a major drop.

GO FOR IT!

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