Restoration Journal

Building the Stairs and Railing
1. Building Shop
2. Building Stairs and Floor
3. Build Loft Railing
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Building the Stairs

There are a lot of formulas and math to building stairs. I took a look at them and decided that I wanted my stairs to have a 7" rise and a 9.5" tread so I'd have plenty of room for my feet going up the stairs and wouldn't have to lift my old feet too high carrying a load. Of course when you're doing that math you have to keep in mind that you'll be adding the step on top and I used 2"X10"X12" boards to make my steps. One board would make three steps that way with a four foot stairway. Of course, they always cheat you with lumber! You never get 2"X10"; what you actually get is 1.75"X9.5" so my actual steps are 9.5" instead of 10" and I had to adjust for 1.75" of thickness instead of 2" when figuring for the height of the step. But, if you ever do this you'll figure it out. If not, just give me a holler and I'll help ya out a mite.

Not, like I've said before, I like to make sure everything is strong so I used four stringers instead of three like they said I could at the lumber place. And here is another little fact; your lumber is NOT going to be perfectly straight unless you're willing to go through about 100 pieces to get four good ones!! I tell you that the lumber business is in a sorry state these days. I remember being able to buy straight wood without too much problem. But, I regress.

When you lay out your first stringer make sure you use a carpenter's square and those little special stair clamps you can get to put it that are made just for measuring stair treads. I put one at 7" and the other at 10" and drew a line and measured it and, of course it was off so I went back and made adjustments until I had it right. Then I started marking my 2"X12"X16' board. Now, how did I know I need a 16' board? Well, my room is 8' (96") plus the 10" joist (9.5") plus the 3/4" decking (floor) so that makes the floor of my loft where the stairs need to go 106.25". Divide that by 7 and that gives you 15.18 steps. If they are all 10" then you need a 16' board; simply! After you lay out the first board AND BEFORE YOU CUT ANYTHING, haul that heavy sucker up and set it in place to see how it looks. Check out the bottom and make sure that you can cut it off horizontal so your steps will be level with the floor and your first step will be 7 inches from the floor (if that is your choice). If everything looks good then cut it and use it to cut the rest. Be sure to always cut each board with the crown (or bow in the wood) UP and always use your first piece as your pattern. DO NOT use the next piece as your pattern. Errors will multiply! OK, here are my stringers and a picture of the 4"X4" posts I used for added strength in the center and for the hand rail support. I also included a picture of the floor anchor for the posts. The posts are anchored to the floor and then anchored to the stringer with lag bolts.

webassets/Four-Stringers.JPG  webassets/4X4Anchor-Concrete-Floor.JPG 

webassets/Master-Post.JPG  webassets/Base-Post.JPG

webassets/Kickplate.JPG  webassets/Center-Support.JPG

As you've noticed I've added Three 2"X4" at the bottom for a kick-plate. This will make sure the stairs will never move forward. I designed it so that there will actually be a 2"X10" step glued and screw on top of these when I'm finished for better looks and added strength and security. Those stringers are not going anywhere! Also, if you not in the picture on the above right, I placed a center support that spans all four stringers and is supported by a 4"X4" post. That is a 2"X10" board nailed to the top of the post and then nailed to the stringer and anchored to the floor. I love added strength and security!

Now it is time for the stairs. I cut them all at the same time to 48" and secured them to the stringers with"Locktite Power Grab" and three 3" screws in each stringer. If one of your stringers has a bow in it just put a clamp on it before you screw it down and you'll be fine. After all the steps are on it is time to take a well-earned break because the next thing is to try to get that heavy 3/4" flooring up those steps. Here is a final picture of the steps. Gene



 Installing the Floor

The biggest problem with installing the floor is getting that heavy stuff from the floor of the barn to the top of the loft. I can pick it up and carry it to the stairs but really didn't want to try carrying it UP those stairs so I decided to lay it down and slide it up the stairs. It worked great! Now, remember that I said that I ran the joists on 16" centers starting with the first wall I built? Well, I started installing the flooring from the other end because it butted up against the existing structure on two sides. Oops! As you can tell from the picture below I had to add an additional 2"X4" to one of my joists for the flooring to screw in to. Oh well! All flooring was installed with screws.

webassets/Flooring1.JPG  webassets/Flooring3.JPG


Now it is on to the next project of adding some rails to the stairs and to the loft. I don't want to fall of this baby and get hurt. It might be a while before someone checks on me and it is COLD outside. Gene

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