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Choosing batles - shallow landing vs slightly steeper stairs?

Choosing batles - shallow landing vs slightly steeper stairs?


  #1  
Old 01-02-11, 05:29 PM
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Choosing battles - shallow landing vs slightly steeper stairs?

I have a problem with a potentially shallow landing at the base of stairs going into the to-be-finished basement. It's almost at the floor, only 1 step on either side of it down to the slab.
Currently it is only 29.5" from the stair to the cinderblock wall, not counting 1.25" nosing. Stairs are a nice 36" wide, but only 8.25" run (w/o nose) and ~7.25" rise.

I'm doing 2" XPS + full framing (5.5" total) elsewhere, but around the stairs plan to do only 3/4" firring strips w/ XPS between, that way I only lose 1.25" after drywall on the landing.

But that's still only 27" from the stair nose to the wall. I'm worried that this may not only "feel" shallow when walking down (faceplant against the wall, lol?), but there will be times when moving furniture etc that it could be a pain.
Note I plan for at least the last 5' of the stairs to be "open" into the rooms on either side so there is at least wide open air space.

Now, one option would be to rebuild the stairs and remove, say, 1/4" or even 3/8" from each - there's 10 between, so that'd add 2.5" or even 3.75" to my landing... but that leaves a run of only 8" (9.25" if I keep the same nose).
I worry about this being a little too short on the tread. though. It's not steep now, and that'd only change the total angle a little - but don't have a sense of how much is "too short" on stair tread before it gets dangerous/uncomfortable.

The local inspector has assured me that the shallow landing can be overlooked 9'as long as its reasonable") since it is 'pre-existing condition", changing the stairs isn't in my work plan... although it could be added, or, ahem, done so that it still looks like it was old...

So - which would you consider the lesser evil? The landing a little shallow (27" nose to wall), or the stair treads a little short (9.25" incl nose)?

For the time being I've thrown up a temp "dummy wall" of the planned thickness at the bottom just to see how much it bugs me while I'm doing the other things...
 

Last edited by RatLabGuy; 01-02-11 at 06:16 PM.
  #2  
Old 01-03-11, 12:54 PM
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RatLab,

Have you considered making that last bottom step a full flatform. Thus when you reach it you turn (left, right or either depending upon the location of the stairs) & take 1 more step down. This way your landing is roughly 36" wide by 38" deep (27" + 9.5") & 7.5" high. Your handrail would then end at the current 2nd step, rather than the 1st. This all depends upon head room above, specifically right where the 2nd step & 1st step/landing are and the step down from that landing to the concrete. If you have a full 8' or better yet a 9' basement wall, then you will be fine. If you are using carpet in the basement, then you would carpet that landing the same as the rest of the basement. Doing this would open-up that bottom area even more & you could do something decorative if you wanted.

I would much rather have a small headroom clearance issue on the bottom than have the entire staircase very short & steep. Staircases that are short & steep cause more falls & trips than standard ones and as you noted, make moving furniture more difficult. good Luck. Mike
 
  #3  
Old 01-03-11, 01:02 PM
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I believe a landing is the only out. Keep in mind your total run/rise measurement needs to fall between 17 and 19 united inches. ie. rise=7 run =11.....conversely rise =9 run=9 or rise=4 and run=15 (common on outdoor patio applications). The sharper you go up, the narrower the tread and taller the rise. You get to a point, however, where it is impractical, so you would need to find that threshold.
 
  #4  
Old 01-03-11, 01:05 PM
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Thanks for the idea - unfortunately, that's not an option (I already considered it).

I already have a headroom issue, the joists right now are only 7' 4.5" from te hslab, and the landing is not the last stair (there is 1 on either side of it)... so when you go to make that last step down, the joist is close to head height (something like 6'8" now)... I'm only 5'9" so it dosn't bother me but I have a tall feiend that will have to look out. Technically it's over the last step and not the landing so it clears code, the inspector also OKed that under "pre-existing condition", "its better to leave it and be glad you're short than going cutting into your joist to make room" etc.
 
  #5  
Old 01-03-11, 01:21 PM
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Just for clarification - the landing is already there, and serves as the second-to-last step. The current landing is 29.5" from the cinder wall, 28.25" if you consider the current nosing on the stairs.

Yes, I'm already outside (short) of that magic ideal 17-18" total. Does that typically include the nose as well?

Now I know I am getting into really small fractional details, but I do wonder - the current nosing is round, so really the last 3/8" is not usable tread/standing space anyway. If the tread boards were replaced with square so the edges were sharp, shouldn't that functionally extent the tread length by about that much?
They will be carpeted once it is all said and done anyway.
 
  #6  
Old 01-03-11, 01:59 PM
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I had a similar problem when finishing my own basement. I've linked a couple of pictures of what I ended up doing just to give you another option. The basement is finished now and this has worked out quite well. Its still a bit difficult to get things around the corner and up the stairs, but not impossible.

On the wall that is on the left side of the stairs as you are coming down I did end up doing what you proposed with the furring strips, except I used 1.5" strips with XPS, so I ended up with 2.0" total thickness after drywall. I pulled a permit for the basement and the inspector in my area did not have a problem with that. I think he would have let me use 3/4" furing strips if I had wanted to. The only problem with doing the furing strips is that it makes it hard to put electrical wires or plumbing behind the wall if that is a concern.

http://i604.photobucket.com/albums/t...19-2010026.jpg

http://i604.photobucket.com/albums/t...5/100_0322.jpg
 
  #7  
Old 01-03-11, 02:31 PM
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I would not shorten the treads. 3/8" may not sound like a lot, but your feet will notice the difference. Given the lack of options for your situation, this might be one of this "live with it" deals. I think leaving the wall exposed block where that landing is will be the best solution. You don't have the ceiling height to do anything else.
 
 

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