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Old 01-29-2014, 11:57 AM   #1
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Home theater riser, step - no step


I posted this on the woodworking forum but wanted to get your thoughts also. My local building code allows for an 18" deck or platform without steps or railing. If I include a step, in this situation it is not considered to be a stair case so it is not disallowed by code. My question is more ergonomic than legal as I have already verified either way there is no code violation.

I am building a riser for a 2nd row of home theater recliners. It will be 66" deep and 112" wide approximately 8 1/4" tall plus what ever padding and carpet add to the height. So, finished height is probably 8 3/4" to 9" high. The material is 2x8 lumber and 3/4 plywood screwed together and setting directly on a carpeted cement floor.

Is it necessary (ergonomically) to incorporate a step? If so, what should the maximum height of the platform be to safely/comfortably step up on the platform without a step? I am trying to avoid a step because it would require adding a 6 or 8 inches to the width or the platform making the walkway only 24" because otherwise you would stand up from the chair onto the step. Space is tight. One option is to keep the platform at 7 1/2" finished and raise the seats 1 1/2" - 2" inches. Folks under 6' would not be able to touch the floor making the upright position uncomfortable.

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Old 01-29-2014, 02:37 PM   #2
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Home theater riser, step - no step


Most often the rise of a step is somewhere between7.5 and 7.75. I would stick with that in a home theatre .It may be dark at times and people are used to a step of this size.There are reasons for the codes.It would be easy to adjust to get the correct rise.

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Old 01-29-2014, 05:35 PM   #3
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Home theater riser, step - no step


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Originally Posted by RegeSullivan View Post

I am building a riser for a 2nd row of home theater recliners. It will be 66" deep and 112" wide approximately 8 1/4" tall plus what ever padding and carpet add to the height. So, finished height is probably 8 3/4" to 9" high. The material is 2x8 lumber and 3/4 plywood screwed together and setting directly on a carpeted cement floor.
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Won't the same carpet be on the lower floor? Thus keeping the finished height the same as the rough?

People who live in the home will adjust to whatever they are really quickly. For sure at 8.25" I would not consider adding a step. For something like this I might even push that a little.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:56 AM   #4
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Home theater riser, step - no step


Colbyt - It will be built on top of the existing carpet so the pad and carpet will add some height to the finished surface. I am inclined to agree with you... push it a little and just build it with a height approximately 8 3/4".
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Old 01-30-2014, 08:53 AM   #5
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Home theater riser, step - no step


Usually the risers will be a 8" high platform. As for the deck height, that is outdoors. Majority of the AHJ's, would never know that you had something in the basement like that.

All of the ones I have seen, are two tiered. The highest deck was over 16" from the wood deck or concrete slab if in the basement. I have also seen them, where people have just layed down a bunch of CHEP Blue Pallets, and laid 3/4" plywood over those, secured the plywood to the pallet's and made that their platform.

Post a drawing and 3D rendering of what you are looking at. www.hometheatershack.com has some good info. AVS has a book on Home Theater Design, that was put together by Erskin design's. If you can afford it, I would contact Erskin, or a local Home Theater design company and go over your plan with them.

It would cost a little money to consult with them, but they can show you points that you missed, and also help you in placement of equipment and furnishings, so that you have the best acoustics.

How far are you on this project, or is it still in the beginning design stage.
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Old 01-30-2014, 09:22 AM   #6
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Home theater riser, step - no step


I guess you would call this a remodel... and I am pretty happy with everything but the second row height. We had been using a couple of easy chairs in the front row and a couch in the second row accommodating 5 people comfortably. The couch was on a 6 1/2" platform which was just short of being just the right height. I have replace the old and well worn seating with 6 new power home theater chairs which are just about the same height as the old but the riser really needs to be higher to make it right. I have not mentioned this yet but my third row, is a bar height table with high bar chairs so I also need to be careful not to block that view.

Do you usually see a step on the 8" risers?

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Old 01-30-2014, 10:19 AM   #7
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Home theater riser, step - no step


I think stepping up/down to a 8-9" platform would be less disorienting in the dark than a 4" step. A 4-5" step seems like a trip hazard more than a help. I vote no step.
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Old 01-30-2014, 12:56 PM   #8
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Home theater riser, step - no step


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I think stepping up/down to a 8-9" platform would be less disorienting in the dark than a 4" step. A 4-5" step seems like a trip hazard more than a help. I vote no step.
They place the lighting in the steps, that you see in movie theaters, to show where they are.

The lights are low lum LED lights, so that they do not interfere with the show being played from the projector on the screen, but they are bright enough, that you know where the steps are.

Also the steps should be longer, so that you have a good platform to step on, when going up or down to & from that upper platform.
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Old 01-30-2014, 05:28 PM   #9
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Home theater riser, step - no step


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Originally Posted by RegeSullivan View Post
Colbyt - It will be built on top of the existing carpet so the pad and carpet will add some height to the finished surface. I am inclined to agree with you... push it a little and just build it with a height approximately 8 3/4".

Before I got around to redoing it, I had one house where the concrete steps settled. That top step must have been 12". In longer than I am willing to admit none of the tenants ever complained.

On another house I decided that 8.75" of rise was better than a shorty at the top or bottom. Again never a complaint. Within reason people adjust.
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Old 01-31-2014, 10:45 AM   #10
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Home theater riser, step - no step


Any step higher than 7 & 1/4" is, in my book, a no-go. The solution is to make both steps as close to standard as possible, and adjust the final platform height accordingly.
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Old 01-31-2014, 03:16 PM   #11
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Home theater riser, step - no step


RegeSullivan,

You mention a third row at the rear and comment that you don't want to obstruct the view from this row, but you haven't told us how much higher the second row could get without obstructing the third row.

It sounds like the best option might be to raise this platform higher than you are currently planning and build a step that splits the difference between platform height and finished floor height.
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Old 02-08-2014, 09:07 AM   #12
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Home theater riser, step - no step


It finished up at about 8 3/4". I seems comfortable to step up on but I will hold of carpeting it until others try it. I think adding a step would be more of a hazard than no step.

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