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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I purchased a house built in 1987. It was in very good condition but dated and dark. I'm hoping to change that, but for various reasons I've found myself doing almost every remodeling project myself.

I know quite a bit, but I don't know everything. That's where you all come in (hopefully) - to help me fill in the blanks of my knowledge.

First issue: there is a simple pine-box staircase from the first floor to the second floor (living room to bedrooms). I've removed the carpeting. The top and bottom landings are tiled (that's going to be removed, too, replaced by hardwood flooring).

The staircase runs along one wall, then there was a half-wall on the other side. I say "was," because I already demo'd the half wall. There will eventually be balusters and a railing.

There's a video of someone who modified a staircase with a bit of carpentry. He took some kind of staircase and added extra wood, sheetrock, partial risers, and partial treads to make it into an open staircase. It's very interesting and inventive and I like the result. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pSoGcyFpCk

I don't know what kind of staircase this fellow started with, but I was wondering:

Question 1: Can this be done with a prefab box staircase?

Now for Questions 2: I'm including photos here so you'll understand what I'm talking about:

These photos were taken of under my staircase. The jutting part is a continuation of my lower landing. What is the relevance of this material jutting so far from the landing into the under-stair space? Can I remove some of it once I determine whether or not it's integral to the structure?

I would like to utilize all of the under-stair space. I intend to build storage compartments/drawers with access(es) from the side of the staircase. I didn't expect to find this platform under here, so I'm curious as to my options. I had plans for even this little corner of the under-stair space.

That's all for now, but I'm going to be throwing questions at this forum like nobody's business.

Thanks very much in advance for any help rendered.
 

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Looks like you got a lot going on. First of all the video was of a conventional stairs and the guy was making his own end caps. You can buy the end caps but for what they cost you could add a little more and buy the real tread.

You can do the end caps on your stairs but it is going to take some work because you have a mortise stairs where the treads and risers are mortised into the skirt/stringer. You can not just cut the part out of you stringer/skirt, it will not be structurally sound. If you decide to go this route you will have to cut a stringer to support the end that is opened to the room. Once you have the new stringer installed under the stairs then you can cut the skirt/stringer to accept the end caps.

The end caps in the video did not member into the sheet rock, it is a little hard to see but he membered it into a skirt board made from a 1X12.

Oh, the platform under the stairs can be removed as much as you like up to the carriage. You may have to add some support under it but that shouldn't be any problem.

If this were my stairs, I would remove all you have there, cut new stringers and build the stairs from scratch, you will have less problems building new and at this point you would not be out a whole lot more money. If you modify what you have there you will pay in frustrations and time compared to a rebuild. JMHO
 

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Mike we must have posted at the same time. LOL

I had another thought, if you wanted to build the stile of stairs below you would have way way less problems and expense. Not talking about the stile of posts and spindles (newels and balusters) and rail but the base. In the first picture you can see you could go with ends of wood then carpet. The second picture is what I envisioned you wanting to do. Let us know which way you might want to go and we can go from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
oh'mike, yes you're correct that my treads and risers are let in to the stringers. It's all on display there from the under-stair closet.

BigJim, you're the bomb. I appreciate that you watched a bit of the video and the extensive, thoughtful feedback you provided. In particular, "If this were my stairs, I would remove all you have there, cut new stringers and build the stairs from scratch, ..."

I couldn't agree more and have spent hours watching every YouTube video from reputable builders I could find on measuring and cutting stringers. I've downloaded tons of photos and diagrams and read everything I could get my hands on. I think it would be awesome to build my stairs from scratch.

But, this is my main concern: the stringers are made from say 2x12x16's - how on earth would I, a woman, be able to heft around a board that big, not to mention upend it to fasten it in place? (I'm not a short woman, but I still don't have the upper body strength of a dude.) This is the issue that most keeps me from plunging in to this project. You should see me trying to carry in a piece of sheetrock - I look like a circus clown.:jester:

I agree that it would be a whole lot less headache to build what I want rather than modifying and constantly reapplying lipstick on a pig (my ol' pine box staircase). LOL

My current stairs are 36" wide, but there is lots of padding with thick shim boards shoved in along that former half wall I demo'd. if I built a new staircase, the new treads and risers could afford to be a tad wider, too. That'd be nice.

If I decide to go with the "build it myself from scratch" scenario, would you guys help me out if I encounter unforeseen circumstances?
 

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oh'mike, yes you're correct that my treads and risers are let in to the stringers. It's all on display there from the under-stair closet.

BigJim, you're the bomb. I appreciate that you watched a bit of the video and the extensive, thoughtful feedback you provided. In particular, "If this were my stairs, I would remove all you have there, cut new stringers and build the stairs from scratch, ..."

I couldn't agree more and have spent hours watching every YouTube video from reputable builders I could find on measuring and cutting stringers. I've downloaded tons of photos and diagrams and read everything I could get my hands on. I think it would be awesome to build my stairs from scratch.

But, this is my main concern: the stringers are made from say 2x12x16's - how on earth would I, a woman, be able to heft around a board that big, not to mention upend it to fasten it in place? (I'm not a short woman, but I still don't have the upper body strength of a dude.) This is the issue that most keeps me from plunging in to this project. You should see me trying to carry in a piece of sheetrock - I look like a circus clown.:jester:

I agree that it would be a whole lot less headache to build what I want rather than modifying and constantly reapplying lipstick on a pig (my ol' pine box staircase). LOL

My current stairs are 36" wide, but there is lots of padding with thick shim boards shoved in along that former half wall I demo'd. if I built a new staircase, the new treads and risers could afford to be a tad wider, too. That'd be nice.

If I decide to go with the "build it myself from scratch" scenario, would you guys help me out if I encounter unforeseen circumstances?
I apologize, I didn't realize you were a lady. Don't feel bad, many of us can't handle the heavy stuff now days. Knowing you can't handle the heavy 2X12s really limit you to working with what you have now, unless you can get someone to help you install three new stringers.

If you were to leave the stairs in place and wish to modify, you will have to install at least one 2X12 stringer to support the open side, because once you modify the stringer/skirt it will be way to weak to be of any use structurally. Even if you can get the one stringer installed (which is hard to do) you will need a support for the stringer at the half way point, unless it is fastened to a wall or other support.

We are here to help you in any way we can, several of us have years experience building stairs.

Edit* Just had another thought, if you can get the 2X12s on a set of horses, that would be the heavy part, putting the stringers in place isn't so bad because at least 1/3 of the weight of the 2X12 will be cut away to make a stringer. Just don't get wet 2Xs, they are really heavy. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hmmmmm, BigJim, now you've got my mind in a whirl. That's a good point that the stringer will be lighter once 1/3 is cut away. Hmmmmm.

Welp, I believe I'm going to start planning out a new, open-on-one-side staircase with three stringers. This pine box staircase is very flimsy, so if I've got to go through all the trouble of refacing all the risers and treads, I may as well just build a solid, well-made new one, eh?

Thank you again for your time.

And please allow me to allay any fears by saying I'm not a hypersensitive chick waiting to be offended. (I was a pumper offshore, so I can handle myself pretty well, even though my steel-toed work boots had pink laces.)
 

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Hmmmmm, BigJim, now you've got my mind in a whirl. That's a good point that the stringer will be lighter once 1/3 is cut away. Hmmmmm.

Welp, I believe I'm going to start planning out a new, open-on-one-side staircase with three stringers. This pine box staircase is very flimsy, so if I've got to go through all the trouble of refacing all the risers and treads, I may as well just build a solid, well-made new one, eh?

Thank you again for your time.

And please allow me to allay any fears by saying I'm not a hypersensitive chick waiting to be offended. (I was a pumper offshore, so I can handle myself pretty well, even though my steel-toed work boots had pink laces.)
Cool, when you get ready just let us know if you need any help.
 

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Chucker...you have I have something in common....I'm doing stairs right now as well......except I'm a guy....

I think your going to have some issues. When you took out that section of wall you impacted the strength of your stairs. Hopefully someone will correct me, but I think the max spacing on stringers 12". Here is what mine look like.



I'm working on my kneewall now.....



Here is my newel post....



And this is what is inside of it....I have kids....it needs to be strong.

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks dawg for jumping in with your comments. Yes I have only two mortised stringers on the sides right now, but I will be moving along to three when I commence this project and make a heavy-duty, open-tread-on-one-side staircase.

I did have intentions of reinforcing the current stairs but in a different way. Since I want to build under-stair storage, I was looking at reinforcements along the lines of this video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQcr8XHjJCA

I have yet to design the storage space that I want, but here are some samples among the hundreds I've collected from online searches. Perhaps with children and toys, you may consider the same, dawg, yes?

A home can never have too much storage.:thumbup:
 

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The carriage is the stringer/skirt. After watching the vidio in your link, you may like using a kreg Pocket Hole Jig instead of using biscuits. Here is a link showing how to use one.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF6DkNOwZ6M
You won't need as many tools with the pocket hole jig.

On your stairs, if you tear out what you have now and install a conventional stairs you will have less room under the stairs than you have now. The conventional stringers will protrude down into the space under the stair more than what you have now.

You can make the stairs you have now look good by using caps and a carpet runner. I don't know if your stairs are in code right now or are in code with carpet. The reason I say this is you may be able to cap the entire tread if it doesn't make the rise on the first and last step to be a different height.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Dawg, as far as the studs I removed from the outside wall of the staircase, there was nothing attached to them except the sheetrock. I kid you not. So that wall wasn't strengthening my staircase one whit.
 

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