Do these stairs need to be ripped out?


  #1  
Old 02-25-18, 06:31 AM
M
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 10
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Do these stairs need to be ripped out?

As you can see, the top two step heights must have been modified by the previous owner. The other steps are 7 3/8" and the last two are splitting up 17 1/2 inches between them. First question is why were these screwed up? The kitchen floor at the top is vinyl sheet so it's not like that raise the flooring level. The more painful question is does the flight have to be ripped out and replaced. They land on concrete basement floor.
 
Attached Images     
  #2  
Old 02-25-18, 06:33 AM
M
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA - N.E.Tn
Posts: 48,241
Received 427 Votes on 382 Posts
Somebody goofed somewhere. Basically you have 2 choices; live with it or rip them out and start over - which may require more length [stick out into the room at the bottom further.
 
  #3  
Old 02-25-18, 06:58 AM
XSleeper's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 27,350
Received 992 Votes on 903 Posts
Well at some point (when you sell the house) that is going to bite you in the butt. Current codes indicate that no step can vary from any other step by more than 3/8. So as you already know, the top 2 steps aren't kosher.

Why is it the way it is? Who knows...

The only solution is ripping out and starting over. But no one is forcing you to do it. Worst case scenario is that it will be flagged by a house inspection someday and either the prospective buyer will be scared off by it... or they will want it fixed... or they will want a reduced price because of it.

It's really up to you what you do about it. Do nothing if you want. But if someone's grandma breaks her hip on them, that wouldn't be good.
 
  #4  
Old 02-25-18, 06:59 AM
M
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 10
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the help - another question. The steps are sitting on wood cleats instead of a notched stringer. For ease of repair, I could rip out the steps and leave the solid stringers, replacing with appropriately sized step heights and metal cleats. Would this be effective or a bad idea in comparison to new, normal-cut stringers?
 
  #5  
Old 02-25-18, 07:22 AM
XSleeper's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 27,350
Received 992 Votes on 903 Posts
Cleats should not be used as the only means of support. Cleats are often used when the treads fit between the stringers... after the treads have been nailed to the stringers first. The cleat is a reinforcement... not the main / only means of support. They really serve to help prevent the stringers from separating laterally... to prevent the nails from working their way loose, as in the case of an open staircase where the stringers could potentially get loose.

If you were to redo the staircase, the usual way to do it would be to cut new stringers that would sit underneath the treads.
 
  #6  
Old 02-25-18, 08:27 AM
Marq1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: USA MI
Posts: 7,515
Received 535 Votes on 495 Posts
So I'm curious what does it "feel" like when you used the stairs with the 2 treads being different?

Does it feel like a trip hazard or just something is a little off?


I have an outside set of steps with long runs (approx 4 feet long) and one of the steps heaved up about 3/4" but due to the long runs you dont even notice it!
 
  #7  
Old 02-25-18, 08:47 AM
2
Member
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: USA near Boston, MA
Posts: 1,268
Received 117 Votes on 101 Posts
It is a trip hazard even if a frequent user has become accustomed to it.

In 1975 I was in Saudi Arabia for work and visited a co-worker who was living there. Several of us were climbing a set of concrete stairs several flights to his apartment. As we were walking up he made a comment to his roommate that we newcomers could not hear. When we reached his landing all three of us visitors tripped on the top step--one after the other. The guys who lived there laughed and explained to us that that landing was about 1/2 inch higher than the other steps and EVERYONE who did not live there tripped on it.

I think Norm Abrams or someone else who has written about staircasing has stated that in Colonial times the third or fourth step in a staircase was deliberately made slightly higher than the others as a security measure so that someone who was not familiar with that stair might trip on it alerting the residents of an intruder. I used that logic once when designing a security system for a residence and put a pressure pad under the third step.

I have an outside set of steps with long runs (approx 4 feet long)
The long runs mitigate the repetitive muscle memory that occurs when climbing stairs
 

Last edited by 2john02458; 02-25-18 at 08:51 AM. Reason: added comment.
  #8  
Old 02-25-18, 10:26 AM
XSleeper's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 27,350
Received 992 Votes on 903 Posts
From 7 3/8" to an average of 8 3/4"... I would expect you would "feel" that! Mostly on your shins and face as you hit the ground!
 
  #9  
Old 02-25-18, 11:58 AM
M
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 10
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
When I first moved in it was clearly noticeable when going down - like stepping off a curb into a hole. Now it is ingrained in my head so I am not ever caught off balance. Still, it is an eye sore and a hazard for unfamiliar guests. I will have to redo them at some point. I dread cutting long, notched stringers with my lack of skills, hence my questions about metal brackets/cleats.
 
  #10  
Old 02-25-18, 12:02 PM
XSleeper's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 27,350
Received 992 Votes on 903 Posts
It's really not that complicated, it just looks daunting. If you decide you are going to tackle it, just come back for some tips.

If you have a tape measure, a skilsaw, a hand saw, a framing square, and a pencil... that's about all you need.
 
  #11  
Old 02-25-18, 02:13 PM
2
Member
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: USA near Boston, MA
Posts: 1,268
Received 117 Votes on 101 Posts
Tom Silva explained the process really well in one of the early episodes of "This Old House" at the house in Newton, MA series that just ended. They had interns working on a front porch and he showed them (and us) how to do it.
 
  #12  
Old 02-25-18, 04:43 PM
Sunburn's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: United States
Posts: 46
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
+1 to just rip it out and start over, save that wood for some decent scrap. It's also a great opportunity to install light-activated LED lighting on the steps, a great safety feature for when the little rug rats try sneaking downstairs for a midnight snack.
 
  #13  
Old 02-27-18, 08:03 PM
M
Member
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: USA
Posts: 179
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
It's really not that complicated, it just looks daunting. If you decide you are going to tackle it, just come back for some tips.

If you have a tape measure, a skilsaw, a hand saw, a framing square, and a pencil... that's about all you need.
...... and a ladder tall enough to go from the basement floor to the main level.



BTW, another voter for ripping it out and starting over.
 
  #14  
Old 04-08-18, 07:10 PM
R
Member
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 77
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
There probably is a reason for it which you may find out if you rip it out.. Or you might try exploratory surgery. What I am thinking for example is pipes. or an important beam. In which case you may not want to proceed. I have never taken out a stair case but I know what is involved. I would be more concerned abut what goes in to replace it. There is a certain charm to that early stage ownership and its idealism.
If the market is so competitive that they are knocking on details like this, then maybe you ought to lower your price.
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: