Space Under Stairs - Is this a support beam?

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  #1  
Old 12-27-08, 12:19 PM
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Space Under Stairs - Is this a support beam?

Dear doityourself community,

I just started my very first home improvement project (besides painting some walls): I am on the way to extend the little room beyond the stairs.
I already removed one drywall and I am planning to put new drywalls all over the room / put a carpet in.

After having removed the drywall (the room used to be approx. 5 feet deep, now its 12 feet) I encountered my first challange. There are some beams behind this wall and I don't know whether I can remove these or not (I would love to get rid of these). I am afraid that these are somehow needed to support the stairs / some kind of code requires these to be in.

Is there anybody who has an idea if these beams are needed or not? (I am referring to the ones which have been behind the drywall I removed (5 Beams: 3 vertical, 2 horizontal)

Here some pictures:

Overall project:


Getting a little bit closer:


Zooming in:


Here's the middle beam (front):


And the very same from the back:


And here how the left beam is being fixed on top:


These are already a lot of pictures (so I decided not to upload anymore if not somebody is asking for it)and I hope somebody can point me in the right direction.
Btw: I already checked and wasn't able to find the building plan for the stairs. My father recommended to take the beams out and 'check' if the stairs somehow can stand the load (by us walking the stairs up and down) - as he has given this advice via phone and as he's not too familiar with US built houses I look forward hearing from you.

All the best,
Kevin
 
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  #2  
Old 12-27-08, 01:25 PM
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Welcome to the forums! Let's clarify things a little. Beams are large horizontal pieces of wood that need minimal support. Studs are vertical members that hold up walls and things. So I am assuming you are talking about the studs. The ones to which you refer under the staircase are not supporting the stairs, which is evident with the 1x piece of lumber, which cannot support anything. The studs are there mainly to hold sheetrock. Is it your desire to remove the middle one to open up the area? If so, I would leave the two on the sides so you will have a stud to which you can attach your casing. The 1x on top can be cut out as well.
Your father's advice would work on a barn, but not your house. Never test support items you are not sure of by removing them first then walking on them. It can lead to a disaster. Just for information, your staircase is supported by the framing on the side and a massive header above the studs you have exposed. You can probably see the header system by sticking your head in there and looking.
So with that said, don't remove anything above where you stopped as it is part of the support system.
 
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Old 12-27-08, 01:56 PM
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Hello Chandler,
Thanks so much for the quick reply.

My plan is to remove as many of these studs / beams as possible (the beam on the floor, the one on the ceiling and the studs which are holding the beams together (left, middle, right)).

Here's a more detailed picture (I marked red what I would like to remove):


Right side details:


Left side details:



I don't think that I'll need any of those for the new drywall's as I can use the studs which are supporting the stairs.

What do you think?

Best,
Kevin

PS: And yes - I didn't feel fully comfortable with removing these studs even though it came from my Dad.
 
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Old 12-27-08, 03:27 PM
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First off, Chandler is much more knowlegable than I. That said....

I'm not sure where the mention of 1X material came from. Maybe I'm missing something in the pic's. (Ahh...wait, maybe its the 4th pic labeled "middle beam front"? Thats a 2X with a real bad edge, I think.)

I don't think you should remove anything more that the center STUD. I think that angled horizontal piece is being used as some support. If you remove the center STUD, I would double the angled piece at the top and add jack STUDS on each side.

I did a similar thing under the stairs at my last house to make a concealed cat bathroom (cat boxes, motion activated light and vent fan, flush door magnetic latchs and concealed hinges), and found I did needed to add the extra support after I removed the center STUD. There was visible and audible movement evident after it was removed. Thats why I added the reinforcment.

Your stairs may go much higher and have plenty of support, I don't know.

As I said, I'm no carpenter and don't claim to be. I've never built stairs either.

I know you may want to expand the room, but why not make it a great storage closet for off season clothes and othe items.
Your new pics show bad angled cuts on the one support stud, so I might be concerned about how the rest of the support is done.
 
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Old 12-27-08, 04:58 PM
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Dear Gunguy,
Dear Chandler,

Chandler: So I am assuming you are talking about the studs.
Yes correct.

Chandler: The ones to which you refer under the staircase are not supporting the stairs, which is evident with the 1x piece of lumber, which cannot support anything.
So does this mean that I can get rid of it?

Chandler:The studs are there mainly to hold sheetrock. Is it your desire to remove the middle one to open up the area?
Yes, and the others attached to it (sides, top and bottom)..

Chandler: If so, I would leave the two on the sides so you will have a stud to which you can attach your casing. The 1x on top can be cut out as well.
Is it neccessary to keep these in? There are plenty of studs which I can use to nail/screw the drywall on even without using the two studs on the both sides.

Gunguy: Your new pics show bad angled cuts on the one support stud
Yes I saw this - it seems that only those studs I am referring to as 'I would like to get rid of them' are put together poorly.

I guess that in a few days I'll have collected all the information I need and then I'll post my solution.

Thanks a lot for your help,
Kevin
 
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Old 12-27-08, 05:42 PM
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Actually Kevin, I was referring to the stud that is turned 90 degrees to the stair stringer (the angled wood that goes top to bottom) beside the one you have marked for removal in the 2nd pic. It's not cut very well and has poor contact. It may be inconsequential, but it just made me wonder about workmanship.

The horizontal angled wood just above the opening may be nothing, if the top of the stairs is just above, but if you have 5-6 more steps, there may be some flex if you remove that support. JMHO

Hope you got my drift with the caps (STUD) in the first post. Terminology is important in this kind of stuff, so everyone is on the same page.

Its a great first project btw, its just lost space otherwise. Always made me wonder why builders didn't use it for something. Not the best place to try and drywall (hard to get pieces in there), but mistakes will be well hidden...lol.
 
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Old 12-27-08, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
Always made me wonder why builders didn't use it for something. Not the best place to try and drywall (hard to get pieces in there), but mistakes will be well hidden...lol.
Builders don't like to do this as such spaces have to be finished per R311.2.2 "Enclosed accessible space under stairs shall have walls, under stair surface and any soffits protected on the enclosed side with 1/2-inch (13 mm) gypsum board...." and it makes extra work and expense for them.
 
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Old 12-27-08, 05:56 PM
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That's right it's a very nice project- I really enjoy this.

but if you have 5-6 more steps, there may be some flex if you remove that support
Yes, there are additional 6-7 steps.

but mistakes will be well hidden...lol
hehe, this is why I did pick this location

Tomorrow a neighbor of ours will stop by and will have a look at this little project. Let's see what's the outcome.

Thanks a lot for all the responses.
Regards,
Kevin
 
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Old 12-27-08, 06:04 PM
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Oh, and as Chandler said..Welcome to the Best DIY site around. I've learned a lot in my time here, and hopefully contributed as well. And yet my wife and neighbors think I know it all..HA!!

btw, no need to be so formal, we're all close friends here(not geographically of course). lol
 
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Old 12-27-08, 06:10 PM
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btw, no need to be so formal,
I didn't realize that my writing style is so formal - must be a language issue (I am from Germany)

PS: Sorry - this is now off topic - I know
 
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Old 12-27-08, 06:10 PM
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@MT...but you'd think it would be such a good selling point, or at least a little bonus point. No wasted space. Good storage.

Mine was much smaller than Kevins, worked great for a cat bathroom, you could put all your Xmas decorations and stuff in his.
 
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Old 12-27-08, 06:14 PM
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Kevin, no prob, I prob should have PM'd you with that.
 
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Old 12-28-08, 10:24 AM
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I've lost all the pictures so I can't comment further without wracking my memory, but I'll try. GG may be right on the ill milled 2x, but I just thought it looked like a 1x. You will need to leave as much vertical support on the sides as possible to prevent sagging. I don't think you will have too much of a problem if the stairs were installed with a proper header under the stringers that spans the entire width. You are not looking just for support of the sheetrock, but vertical support of the staircase.
 
  #14  
Old 12-28-08, 06:24 PM
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It seems that it has been just a frame for the drywall which was not intended to support anything but the drywall itself (a neighbor of mine who is quite experienced in this matter had a look at this ).

I now removed the frame and will attach a new frame further behind for the new wall.

Pictures will follow.

Cheers,
Kevin

PS: And yes - I'll follow the R311.2.2 requirements
 
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