Stair skirt remodeling questions

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Old 12-01-09, 05:37 PM
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Stair skirt remodeling questions

Hi! First post here...

I gutted the upstairs and stairwell but not the stairs. The walls used to be plaster and lath. I've got a few questions:
1. On the landing, what would you recommend I do for baseboard and tying into the skirts since they're so tall?
2. Drywall isn't as thick of course so I have ~1/4" gap between it and the skirt now as you can see on the left side. In some places it's as much as 3/8". I was thinking of 2 options: a) stuffing some foam in and then using paintable caulk to fill it flush to the top of the skirt, or b) using some 1/4" x 1/2" lattice board, either doing it flush to the top also or keeping it above the top slightly and caulking as needed. Is there another option that would be better?
3. What should I do on the right side that used to be open but is now a foyer closet? I don't want to install a skirt because it won't match the left side so I was thinking of just installing baseboard and either coping around the noses or notching them out.

If it matters, the stairs will be painted. At some point (after the downstairs is done) we may re-carpet them depending on how bad they look.
 
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Old 12-02-09, 04:13 AM
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1. 5" speed base (MDF) will match up to the top of the skirt board. You may or may not have to trim the bottom of the speedbase for a good fit. 2. It may be possible to insert lattice at the top of the gap, flushing it to the top of the skirt board cap, caulking and painting.
3. Do you have plans on replacing the landing and treads/risers? I would. In that case you can build a skirt on the right side to match the left side and cover the crack with new treads and risers.
 
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Old 12-02-09, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by chandler View Post
1. 5" speed base (MDF) will match up to the top of the skirt board.
How would I come close to matching the profile? I don't have a router and likely couldn't find a standard bit that would match anyway. It would also need to be 6.5" base to be the same height as the tips. I was hoping to find pieces of the original base long enough that's been sitting outside in my scrap pile.
3. Do you have plans on replacing the landing and treads/risers? I would. In that case you can build a skirt on the right side to match the left side and cover the crack with new treads and risers.
I'd still have the profile matching problem as above. I wasn't planning on replacing anything, hence the need for paint rather than stain. Also, there will be laminate on both ends of the stairs so having wood stairs that don't match would look odd - another reason for paint and perhaps eventually carpet again. I will be adding 3/4 plywood to the landing since for some reason it was 3/4" below where it should have been. This is a 1915 house and it was built on a budget I guess. I've found many "interesting" things along the way. Thus, I really don't want to tear out the stairs as I'm afraid of what I'll run into or scuff up the drywall trying to get it out.

I can provide some more pics if needed.
 
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Old 12-02-09, 07:32 AM
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The skirtboard should be cut into the sheetrock. Like along the lower bottom stairs along the right sheetrock wall. Also the leftside too, I'd imagine, from what I can see. Then the sheetrock sits on top of that. That will also then kill another bird and allow this new piece of skirtboard to wind up more flush with the first riser on the second set of stairs that turns to the right. Then you cap the reveal portion of the skirting that protrudes past the sheetrock, if you want. Same applies along the left wall at the bottom. As far as terminating that skirting you see in the distance, to the basetrim on the landing, I have seen it done 2 ways: One is that the skirting you see there along that back wall is allowed to come downward further till it becomes even at the top with standard ranch base(if that is what you have in your house). To do this, you could add onto that existing skirtboard to pull that off, if you wanted. The other way is that you just leave it how you see it there, and just have a step down, if you use a lesser width ranch-type baseboard. Or as I believe Chandler was talking about -to use the wider style base, unless this would conflict in your mind with the style of base used elsewhere nearby in the house.
 
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Old 12-02-09, 08:37 AM
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Ecman51,
Thanks for the reply but since I'm not intimate with staircase terminology, I didn't follow some of what you wrote. How could the rock on the left side sit on top of the skirt when there's a 1/4" gap between the two? I understand on the right side, I could cut off the drywall and install a new skirt up against the studs if I choose to go that route.
Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
Then you cap the reveal portion of the skirting that protrudes past the sheetrock, if you want. Same applies along the left wall at the bottom.
Not sure what you mean by capping what protrudes past the rock.
The other way [of terminating that skirting you see in the distance] is that you just leave it how you see it there, and just have a step down, if you use a lesser width ranch-type baseboard.
I thought that would look pretty tacky since it would be about half the height and thickness. I will have the same problem of course at the bottom left of the first set of stairs where it will meet with foyer baseboard. Another post here sparked an idea that may make it not so hideous, which is using a corner post as sort of a short half newell post to cover where the skirt and base meet.
 
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Old 12-02-09, 12:28 PM
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I think you are a thinking type guy and can figure out your options. Your problem is the stairs were not done right in the first place. And that may be why Chandler suggested redoing the treads and risers. You see, the skirting is supposed to be on first, and then the treads and risers butt up to it.

Regarding the capping of the top reveal portion of the skirting: I have seen skirtboards done where it is left as is. I have also seen where someone has put quarter round ontop of it.

Regarding my suggestion about continuing that far wall skirtboard down lower: I just came from a rental that the builder was mindful of this intersection point where skirtboard and landing baseboard meet. Since they only used 2 inch base w/quarter round along the floor, they ran the skirtboard all the way down toward the floor so that the top of the skirtboard is even with the 2 inch high baseboard. Oh...and the way they constructed the whole thing is they first had the plaster wall, then the wide 1 x skirtboard ontop the plaster, and then the treads and risers butt to the skirtboard. Depending on what way you choose to go, regarding either leaving treads and risers, or replacing them, you will have to improvise to create that same look so that at least looks correct.

If they built your stair carriage(as least that lower section) directly up agaisnt the sheetrock, you have the problem then where if you leave the existing carriage, you will have no choice, even with the treads and risers removed, to cut the skirtboard on the bottom so the bottom is cut with triangle cut outs so it fits to the triangles of the carriage. Then you would butt the new treads and risers to the skirtboard, and all will then look normal. If you try to skip this step and figure you can simply surface mount the skirtboard by trianglular cutting the bottom of the skirtboard to fit inbetween all the stair triangles(without removing the treads and risers first)....if you do not do a real good job, you will see gaps.
 
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Old 12-02-09, 12:39 PM
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The skirt cap is separate from the skirt (or it is in most cases). Pop it off. Apply new stock boards across the landing and back to the other skirt, cutting it the width you want. If you say it needs 6 1/2" now, wait until you add your 3/4" and you won't need that much height. Once you have applied your board to the wall, apply a base cap from the top of the stairs to the landing, around the landing and down the second set of stairs, turning it vertically at the bottom, ending on the floor. I can do it faster than I can tell you about it.
As far as the skirt on the right side, either cut up on your sheetrock the same height as your other skirt and install a skirt board under it, or leave it as is. I definitely would not suggest cutting out the profile of the steps on a skirt board.
 
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Old 12-02-09, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
I think you are a thinking type guy and can figure out your options. Your problem is the stairs were not done right in the first place. And that may be why Chandler suggested redoing the treads and risers. You see, the skirting is supposed to be on first, and then the treads and risers butt up to it.
The engineer is showing, eh? I'm handy but not a finish carpenter. Anyway, the stairs may have been done correctly, it's just that the original wall surface was thicker (plaster and lath) than my new wall. Thus, the skirt is likely nailed through the plaster which is still behind it. I cleared out enough of the old wall surface so I could get my drywall behind the skirt a little also.
Regarding the capping of the top reveal portion of the skirting: I have seen skirtboards done where it is left as is. I have also seen where someone has put quarter round ontop of it.
I think I understand what you're saying now. I'd think it would be hard to hide the cap seam myself, but my skirt has no cap. It has about an inch ogee (?) profile that was routed onto it. That's why I say I can't make it match very well. It's also why I can't just cap with a quart round to hide the new gap.

If I COULD cap it as Chandler suggests that would make it much easier to deal with! However, I think my only chance for that is trying to cut off the profile with a circular saw and don't think even I could pull off such a straight long cut while holding the saw on edge.
If they built your stair carriage(as least that lower section) directly up agaisnt the sheetrock, you have the problem then where if you leave the existing carriage, you will have no choice, even with the treads and risers removed, to cut the skirtboard on the bottom so the bottom is cut with triangle cut outs so it fits to the triangles of the carriage. Then you would butt the new treads and risers to the skirtboard, and all will then look normal. If you try to skip this step and figure you can simply surface mount the skirtboard by trianglular cutting the bottom of the skirtboard to fit inbetween all the stair triangles(without removing the treads and risers first)....if you do not do a real good job, you will see gaps.
I assume carriage = stringer. Here is a pic of the underside if it helps.

If I do put a skirt on the right side cut to fit, it's only 3 stairs worth so I could likely handle that. I can't pull up those treads and risers anyway since my closet wall is built on top of them. It's still a matter of getting close to the same thickness and top profile so it looks like the left side though.

I think I'm going to be stuck placing some 1/4" lattice in behind the skirts and caulking the remaining gaps.

Edit: I just had a somewhat brilliant idea. I'll deal with the current gaps as described above unless someone can think of something nicer than caulk to use. For the right side, I still have various pieces of old trim that will later be removed that are 7.5" wide, which is just enough to cut a skirt to fit those 3 steps (and use for the landing if I don't have some in my scrap pile). The only odd area will be at the intersection of that right skirt and the one coming down from upstairs, which is about 1 inch higher. Maybe try one of those corner posts I mentioned earlier?
 
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