Staircase modification

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  #1  
Old 01-02-18, 08:22 AM
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Staircase modification

I came up with a solution to let more light into my living room (I lost an east facing window after building my garage), which requires shifting the staircase leading to my basement by one step. It is a split staircase and I can easily make up for the lost step at the top of the stair by adding one on the landing below. Question is, would it be okay to build new stairs on top of the existing pre-fabricated stair case, or should I remove the staircase altogether and build a new one (it would only be 6 steps)? The former would be preferred for obvious reasons, but replacing the staircase with a new one wouldn't be a big deal either (area below is unfinished and accessible). If building on top is acceptable, I'd essentially build boxes on top of the existing steps. The steps will be carpeted afterwards.
 
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Old 01-02-18, 08:25 AM
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It is not clear what you are adding or taking away and where. Make some notations on a picture so we understand.

Building on top of stairs is a recipe for squeaks.
 
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Old 01-02-18, 08:52 AM
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Diagrams of existing and proposed. I could strengthen the stair by adding a stringer down the middle and use copious amounts of liquid nails when installing the new steps. Although the stairs already feel weak and squeak a bit, so maybe tearing them out would be best. They are 34 years old and were sub-par builder grade pre-fab stairs to begin with.

As you can see, adding step 7 on the landing allows me to omit step 12 at the top and frees up that floor space. This will give me just enough floor space to install a new 64"x80" entry door with 12" full height side lights to the right of the diagram, thereby giving me some much needed natural light on that side of the room. I could probably squeeze a 64" door in that space without modifying the steps, but I don't like the idea of opening the front door and having a set of steps less than 6" to the right. The extra 10" gained by losing step 12 should be be sufficient.

Also wanted to confirm a minimum recommended headroom of 80"? I will be right around 80" of headroom from the nose of step 9 to the ceiling, but everywhere else will be 88"+.
 
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Old 01-02-18, 09:24 AM
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Hopefully this help clears it up a little. I can post a couple photos this evening if need be. The staircase in this diagram shows the stairs leading to the basement to the right, and the ones leading upstairs to the left. As you can see, the top step has been omitted and the side light of the new door will be just about even with the top of the first (new) step.

I also planned on removing about 24" of the wall that fills in between the upper and lower staircases so the light from the new door can enter the living room more unobstructed.
 
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Old 01-02-18, 11:47 AM
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Boy, re-doing the stairway just to add a side light to the door seems like an awful lot of work. Plus, I can't stand stairways with angled steps that narrow to a sharp point.

Make sure you read up on the code for winder stair treads. I think you'll meet the requirements but I'm certain an inspector will be giving it a close look.
 
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Old 01-02-18, 12:25 PM
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Boy, re-doing the stairway just to add a side light to the door seems like an awful lot of work. Plus, I can't stand stairways with angled steps that narrow to a sharp point.
You're right, it is, but I think it will be a fun project and will have a significant impact. And it hadn't occurred to me until the other day that my front door isn't centered with the opening on my porch and the walkway, so this will allow me to center it. It will also open up my foyer a bit, which now feels a little cramped.

I don't particularly like winding stairs either, but it will only be two separated by a larger landing in between, so I don't think it will be too bad. An alternative would be to build up the stairs all the way down to the basement and add an extra step at the end, but I'm not sure that would be worth the extra effort. If I were to go that route, I think I'd just tear out the old staircase and put in all new.

Make sure you read up on the code for winder stair treads. I think you'll meet the requirements but I'm certain an inspector will be giving it a close look.
Found this helpful document: http://timnath.org/wp-content/upload...TAIR-GUIDE.pdf.
 

Last edited by mossman; 01-02-18 at 12:46 PM.
  #7  
Old 01-02-18, 12:39 PM
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R311. This link has some pictures and diagrams that make it a bit easier to understand. Winding stairs are on page 3.
 
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Old 01-02-18, 01:03 PM
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After learning of the minimum 6" tread depth, it sounds like I"ll have to do the following. Except then I'll have a 6" wide section where the riser is 15-1/2" (between steps 6 and 8 against the wall). I don't believe I can build the wall out because then my landing width would be only 30". There's a ledge about handrail height along the back wall that juts out 6", so the width above the ledge is 42" and below is 36". Wonder if I can get away with 30" down low as long as it is 36" above. Kind of a unique case.
 
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Old 01-02-18, 01:16 PM
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If I am interpreting the code correctly, it sounds like the 36" requirement is for ABOVE the handrail (ledge in my case), which I will be able to satisfy even after building out the wall. I think I should be good with the below configuration:
 
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Old 01-02-18, 02:45 PM
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Yeah that's not to code on several points. Here is one good illustration. http://learnframing.com/wp-content/u...rs-300x263.png

Landing must be 36", not 30"... some codes say it must be as deep as the stairs are wide. But I don't remember what code you have to go by there. The shortest dimension on the inside edge of steps 6, 7, 8 is 6".... minimum tread width is 10" when measured 12" from inside perimeter. (Path of travel) Yes, you need at least 80" vertically when you plumb up from the front tip of any stair nose. And that is from finished surface to finished surface... not framing to framing. It cannot be less anywhere.
 
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Old 01-02-18, 05:09 PM
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Yeah that's not to code on several points. Here is one good illustration. http://learnframing.com/wp-content/u...rs-300x263.png

Landing must be 36", not 30"... some codes say it must be as deep as the stairs are wide. But I don't remember what code you have to go by there. The shortest dimension on the inside edge of steps 6, 7, 8 is 6".... minimum tread width is 10" when measured 12" from inside perimeter. (Path of travel) Yes, you need at least 80" vertically when you plumb up from the front tip of any stair nose. And that is from finished surface to finished surface... not framing to framing. It cannot be less anywhere.
I just double checked my headroom and landing measurements, and my headroom would be 78-3/4" on the last stair prior to the landing. So close! And the width to the ledge would actually be closer to 34". If I measure from the base of the stair, I can get 35", but I'm assuming the measurement is taken from the nose. Step #6 is already 4", so I could add only 2" to the end of the wall and shift the upper staircase accordingly to get the needed 36" clearance. Looks like I'll be rebuilding them anyhow so no biggie. In fact, if I shift the upper staircase by 2", that may just be enough to get my 80" headroom

Here are a couple more photos of what I'm dealing with. A 36" door with double 12" side lights may look a little too cramped. As you can see from the tape on the wall, the left side light would just about touch the ceiling leading down the stairs, and that is with the door spaced only 1" off the right-hand wall (to allow for clearance for the siding on the exterior). I may have to settle for a 36" door with single side light on the latch side, in which case the entry door would pretty much remain where it is and the side light would extend to about the nose of the first stair. I could also go with a 34" door with two side lights to gain a little more clearance. I have a 36" entry door from my garage, so going with a slightly narrower front door should be okay right? Regardless of which door I go with, at the very lease I'll be removing the basement door and the section of wall where the 3-gang box is (I already have another suitable location for those switches).
 
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Old 01-02-18, 05:54 PM
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Looks like I may be good after all. I was mistakenly measuring my headroom off the nose of the last stair on the upper staircase, but the lowest point of the ceiling is actually about 4" forward of the stair nose, so I would have about 82" of headroom. I also laid out some painters tape and it appears that if I build the wall out 2" and shave 2" off of the landing on the right side that I will just barely satisfy the 6" minimum tread depth for the winders AND have exactly 36" of landing width Rather than step 7 spanning the entire width of the landing, I would have two rectangular steps on the left half of the landing and the right half would be square.
 
  #13  
Old 01-04-18, 08:22 AM
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Does the 30" rule apply with interior handrails as it does for decks? Reason I ask is because if I only cut the wall back to the second blue line (left of light switch), I won't need a hand rail on this side because there will be a drop of less than 30" (two stairs on the upper staircase and one on the lower staircase). On the other hand, the less I cut back, the less light makes it into that side of the living room, which is the goal here. You can see the shadow of the existing handrail cast on the wall, which is where a new handrail would go if I cut back all the way.
 
  #14  
Old 01-04-18, 09:01 AM
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Sorry to keep this thread going, but I feel like I'm pretty darn close to a solution on these winder steps, although some questions still remain.

The width from wall to wall of the upper half of the staircase is 35" (tread width is 34"). And the width of the landing wall to ledge at the narrowest point (center of diagram) is actually 38". If I can shift the intersection of 6 and 7 forward by 2" and to the left even with the wall, this will give me the 6" min tread depth for step 6, maintain a landing width of 36", and give me the 6" min tread depth for step 8 (assuming I can measure as shown by the arrow). Shifting the point of 7 to the left buys me an extra couple inches because the right corner of the wall interferes with the path of travel. Questions are, can the landing (7) be done like such with it coming to a point since it isn't technically a winder stair and it is such an obtuse angle? I basically have two winder stairs (6 and 8) separated by a triangular landing. And is it a big deal to have a 2" wide section against the wall that is 15.5" considering no one would ever even step there? It's basically an extension of the wall that stops at stair height.
 
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Last edited by mossman; 01-04-18 at 09:36 AM.
  #15  
Old 01-05-18, 11:40 AM
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Plus, I can't stand stairways with angled steps that narrow to a sharp point.
Then this will surely make your skin crawl (porcelain tile at that)
 
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Old 01-05-18, 12:30 PM
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Nice pic of another stairway that's not to code.
 
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Old 01-05-18, 12:49 PM
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Nice pic of another stairway that's not to code.
Haha, yep. No handrail either. Boy would that hurt taking a spill!
 
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