Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rough Stairs Finished!

Here's the last part of the staircase build. Once I can afford to cap it in the finished wood, I'll be making more posts about it, but for now, it's "done".

To secure the three "floating" ends of the stringers at the top step, I custom made 3 metal brackets. These are made from 1/8" mild steel (7$ from any hardware store). I cut the length into 3 sections, marked them, and drilled them. They were bent roughly to shape with a vise and hammer.

I could maybe have tried some sort of "joist hanger" hardware on these, but the 1/8" steel will be much stronger than the thin metal versions. Making these myself was probably cheaper as well. They are secured directly to the structural beam.

After I had the top secured (in the correct spot for my measurements) I then nailed the staircase to the walls on either side. I used large 4" nails for this.

This morning I cut and installed all the rough steps (nine 3" screws each, and also secured on the revers with 4 screws in the risers).

This shows the 4 horizontal screws on the back sides.

I'll also point out that I put all the "nice sides" on the back part of the staircase, since I probably won't finish the back. This is why the front part of the stairs already look especially cruddy (paint drips, scuff marks, etc).

For the top step, I simply installed a 2x4 filler block at the top, and made a taller riser. The riser is then screwed on the front, and on the back.

The top "step" (floor edge) will need special detailing/moulding work, and it's basically going to get a 3 sided rim (painted the floor colour), and hollow columns on the ends to continue the illusion of the door frame down to the step. A bit hard to explain, but you'll see this in detail when I eventually put it together.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Stairs Continued

Here I've started to install the risers. These are 5/8" thick scrap plywood (I believe this was subfloor material I removed from one of the rooms. Possibly the living room or dining room). I fastened these with nine 1.5"screws per board. Everything on the staircase will be screwed together, but the staircase itself will be nailed in place. Nails are important in case the house needs to shift slightly. The nails are actually stronger than the screws (screws can snap while the nails will just bend).

In this photo you can see that 2x8 that I laid down across the opening to hold the stringers. Without this board, 2 of the stringers would have been basically floating in the air over the hole. Originally there was some subfloor here, but it was cut back at some point. You can also see how short the bottom step looks, but remember that the final height will be 2 1/4" taller than this.

Same as above, the top step looks much too tall, but there will be a 2 1/4" height difference. Once everything is done, ALL the steps will be 8.5" tall.

Looking down (looks neat!)

Everything seems to line up really nicely.

That's as far as I've got for now. Today I went and bought some large nails, and I shimmed and nailed the stairs in place. I also added 3 metal brackets to support the 3 stringers at the top. I still need to cut and install the rough steps.

Removing The Old Staircase & Drywall Repairs

Before starting to demolish the old stairs, I laid two large old boards (2" x 12") over the basement stair opening. This made it easy and comfortable to work, and I was able to have a step ladder over these as well.

Removing the old shitty stairs (I don't normally curse, but these were absolutely awful) was probably the worst part of the entire project. It was messy, and none of the steps came off easily because they had been nailed as well as screwed down. The screws were puttied-over and painted so I didn't bother trying to find them. I used heavy prybars and a large crowbar.

I had started the demo late one evening, and I did the other half the following afternoon.

Another thing that made the demo worse was that the contact glue used on the rubber tread sections was still gluey and sticky, and any kind of contact with the glue meant a gross and difficult to remove mess. It was like honey, and the only thing that removed it was lacquer thinner. I was very careful to pile the old pieces carefully, and to completely avoid skin contact.

A lot of the rooms throughout the house (wherever they changed the drywall) have insulation in them. Kind of useless on interior walls, but I suppose it helps block sound a tiny bit, so I've left all of that there (and patched where bits were missing).

About 6 of the 12 old stair "points" broke off during demo.

This was an "exploratory hole" done years ago, but some of the framing will need to be fixed now.

This is the wall that makes up the hallway (where I have the coat hook shelf with clocks on it). This wall was a later addition, which is why the construction is completely different.

This is where I started to notice I had a big problem.

Illustrated below, is the height issue with the stringer. Basically, it needed to drop a good 2 or 3 inches, around the spot where the arrows are pointing. One thing I didn't really calculate earlier was that because of the adjustments, the height of the top stringer step had to land at 10 3/4" down from the finished floor. Again, to recap the math: 10.75 + 2.25 (my 2x10 rough step plus 3/4" hardwood) gives me my final 8 1/2" step.

That said, the nice drywall "angle" that I had done years ago, and that I was pretty sure would have AMPLE clearance was definitely going to have to go.


Bye-bye all that hard work and planning.

At least I got a good shot.

Also note that this was a "controlled demo". All the edges (tape) were cut to minimize the mess, and make re-patching easier.

The stringers had to be notched. I didn't like doing this, but I had no choice, and I did NOT, repeat *N-O-T* want to redo the entire doorway and arch.

Rough fitting seems to work out really well.

On this side, I even had to notch the inside 2x4 a bit.

I am really lucky that the notched area landed in a good area of the steps, otherwise I would have been royally screwed (I would have needed to rebuild the entire basement doorway - AGAIN). The blue line is 3/4" that I removed later on to make the angled ceiling piece (the drywall angle over the basement door) land in a nicer spot.

At this point, everything was good to go, except that now all the drywall was messed up due to the new (correct) location of the stairs. Part of this would be covered with mouldings, but a lot of it wouldn't.

I decided to fix ALL the drywall all in one shot for the best finish. This was a real pain in the butt, and it involved a lot of creative recycling and planning, since I had a very limited stock of drywall (old and new), and I also wanted to fix some of the existing problems on the staircase walls at the same time.

First, I finished the framing for this upper right corner. All the arrows point to new framing pieces. The plywood with pocket hole screws is a good trick for very tricky areas like this.

This is one of the only shots I took from upstairs. I luckily have the other rear staircase I could use during this project.

I believe this was end of day 2.

One of the complicated drywall patch pieces.

Middle of day 3, with most of the drywall done.

I don't normally show the mess, but trust me, there's always a mess.

The last sheet!