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Structural or Decorative?????

1806 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  clemon03
Hi folks. I'm working on a basement reno and have got the drywall stripped out of the basement stairwell. I'd like to remove the two vertical 2x4s shown in the pics below, but want to make sure I'm not compromising the structure here.

I'm 99% sure these are merely decorative (in the sense that they were installed to support the original drywall and not the staircase above) as the verticals terminate directly under a star tread and not the stair stringer. My assumption is that if these were carrying a load in my 30-yr-old house, the stair treads would have buckled long ago, not being designed as structural elements themselves. This being the case, I should be able to remove the 2x4s and open up the stairwell considerably.

Can anyone confirm this for me? BTW, there are no supporting members on the other star stringer that I can find, which leads me to conclude that the staircase is self-supporting, being tied into the structure at top and bottom only..... Sorry for the HUGE pics, btw. Not sure how to scale the darned things!
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No way to definitely make that determination with the information that picture provides but from what I can see I think you're on the right track.
I agree with Kc. It wouldn't hurt to put a couple of small (6d) nails into the bottom of the P.B. riser into the tread. It looks like backing, as we all agree.

Be sure to drywall the back of the stair set, as per fire code. Be safe, G
Thanks guys. I did go ahead and remove the uprights, and as suspected, they were only there to hold drywall - I just couldn't imagine a stair tread taking the weight of the staircase in any event, so I felt safe removing the 2x4s.

As suggested, I will be touching up the stair construction while the bottom is exposed - the risers on this staircase are made of particle board (!) and several have gotten wet (carpet cleaning?) and expanded/gotten brittle. I'll be adding screws where I can to pull it all back together before closing it up again, which is actually my next question:

The upper staircase is rounded (90 degree helix shape) while the lower staircase is a standard 2-flights and a landing square construction. The original framing was quite low (ceiling height) which caused some trouble with getting furniture in and out of the basement. I'd like to recover as much of the headroom as possible when closing it back up. Any suggestions for framing in? My idea is to run 2x2s across the bottom of the stringers, extending beyond the upper staircase to tie into the wall studs framing the basement stairs. It might make an interesting chore for the drywallers, but I think it will maximize space in the lower staircase. Thoughts?
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