Quick questions about basement stairs


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Old 06-21-12, 08:02 AM
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Quick questions about basement stairs

Hello again,

As you can see from this picture, I knocked out the wall that went floor to ceiling and constructed a new handrail for the bottom section of the basement stairs. Because of the framing that I had to do on the far wall to cover the concrete foundation, I lost some space on the stairs and wanted to open this all up for aesthetic and space reasons. I have secured the rail at all possible points that come in contact with other lumber and with 3" screws. However, the rail still seems a little wobbly to me. Is this something that will decrease considerably with the extra support that the drywall will provide or are there additional measures (more studs, brackets) that I will need to take? As always, thanks for your help!


Andy
 
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Old 06-21-12, 08:19 AM
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So the end result will not be that you removed a wall, it will be as if you had chopped the wall short to create a railing on top of it? In other words, you're going to cover the railing we can see with drywall to make it into a half wall?


If so, I would add more wood to shore this up first - drywall in and of itself is not structural and would probably suffer from more than help a wobbly situation. I'm assuming the vertical piece attached to the wall and the horizontal piece attached to the floor are solid and would add bracing between them and the other pieces to solidify the structure.
 
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Old 06-21-12, 08:55 AM
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Yes, I guess this would be a half wall. The original wall extended out just past the last step and was floor to ceiling. I stopped this wall at the second step to increase the space at the bottom of the stairs. The way the wall lined up, there ended up being a half inch space between the sides of the stairs and the wall that I built. I assume this is intentional and how it is usually done in framing to avaoid having to cut the 1/2" dryall to fit the stairs? Nonetheless, I can probably add 2x4's horizontally between the studs and attach them to the joist on the side of the stairs. This would probably help with the wobble.

Yes, the baseplate is secured with concrete anchors driven with a .22 load (sorry, I'm not sure what the name for this technique is). And the vertical stud against the wall has roughly 8 screws in it. The half wall will be drywalled. I will probably add a round wooden rail to the top of it when I am in the finishing stages of the remodel.

Thanks!
 
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Old 06-23-12, 10:08 PM
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A good way to stiffen up the wobbly rail half-wall (before you rock it) would be to first glue/screw a few short vertical 2 x 4s to the "uphill" side of the last handrail stud (directly adjacent to the "meat" of the stair stringer), enough to provide a few places to install several staggered 3/8" lag bolts or 1/4" ledger-lock bolts through the inside of the stair stringer, predrilling from the inside first, and installing from the inside. Use heavy fender washers under the bolt heads to keep from crushing the wood, as you'll be snugging them up hard, first with a driver/drill/socket and then a ratchet/socket for the last "umph". You'll need a work light, and it will be a tight squeeze, crawling on your belly and working underneath the stairs, but will make a noticeable difference in stiffening things up. You could also install a few of the same on the next-to-last handrail stud, as it already contacts the stringer. If the stringer wants to wobble when lateral load is placed on the rail once you've lagged into it from the studs, install some solid 2 x 8 blocking between it and the next stringer, underneath the stairs.

I had an almost identical situation a few years ago in the place we're in now, and going the lag bolt route from the inside did wonders to make things strong and tight. Not a bit of wobble, even when pushing hard against the handrail.
 
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Old 06-24-12, 03:42 AM
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I cannot see the carry through on the floor joist, but it appears you have chopped off a possible load bearing wall. Can you take a pix showing more of the joisting, say from the lower right corner up. It appears there is at least a double joist ending in the middle of nowhere, which raises an alarm with me.
 
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Old 06-25-12, 08:39 AM
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Ugh, nice catch Larry - I did not look at the top of the picture at all....
 
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Old 06-26-12, 10:00 AM
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Guys,

I am not familiar with the lingo in regards to the structural members. I did have a contractor who lives in my neighborhood look at the wall prior to removing it and he said it was not load bearing. If it helps any, the joist that runs left to right in the picture is actually a double.

Thanks
Andy
 
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Old 06-26-12, 10:55 AM
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I would also wonder about the doubled joist (sitting in the doubled joist hanger) that butts into the doubled joist which runs left to right. It is located right above where the wall formerly ended. Even with more pictures it would be hard to determine exactly how much weight is being carried by that doubled left to right joist without having spans and more information about the structure above. Looks like there is a lot of stuff happening there, so a more complete picture would be nice.
 
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Old 06-26-12, 11:22 AM
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The doubled joist that runs north and south in the pic extends to a concrete foundation wall roughly 10 feet back. The total run is probably 15 feet. The area directly above these joists is an entryway to the fron of the house. The entryway is a two story foyer. The only "direct" weight on these joists is the weight of the above flooring. However, I do understand that the purpose of a joist is to distribute weight and that these joists carry more weight that what is directly above them.

Thanks!
Andy
 
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Old 06-29-12, 05:29 AM
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I was finally able to take some additional pictures of the area in question. Please let me know what you all think about if I need to add a post or not. I would really prefer leaving it the way it is now because of the added space but if it is a sefety concern, I will certainly add a post to the bottom of the half-wall.

Thanks!
 
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