> >
>

# Not a stairway to heaven!

#1
02-21-06, 04:40 AM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 7
Not a stairway to heaven!

Our house was built in 1971 with VERY steep stairs. The rise/run ratio is poor and doesn't give a lot of room for your feet. Both my wife and myself have slipped going down the stairs and have suffered injuries - no doubt because of the rise/run.

Is there a way, without a major remodeling, to change the rise/run? There is no room to lengthen the run of the staircase.

#2
02-21-06, 05:55 AM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Texas
Posts: 655
There is no room to lengthen the run of the staircase.
Let's look at this restriction another way: There is no more space for the staircase to expand.

Given a fixed amount of space, there are two methods to increase the number of steps contained in that space:
1. Switchbacks. In order for the stairs to start and end where they do now, two landings must be inserted. The steps cannot be as wide, assuming that the width as well as the length of the stair space cannot expand. Each step will be slightly less than half as wide as it is now.
2. Spiral staircase. Complete change-out of the staircase. Each step is now wedge-shaped.

In either case, only one person can be on the stairs at a time.

A third alternative is to install an elevator in the space with doors on both sides. In on one side at the bottom, out on the other side at the top.

#3
02-21-06, 11:29 AM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 7
An elevator was my first thought, but...

Unfortunaetly, a landing and/or switchbacks are not an option either due to the limited space. The first step (at the bottom) is a mere 6" from the front door (when open). The top of the staircase is in the middle of the upstairs hallway, in front of a full bath. A very poor design!

I thought perhaps if we remove the staircase and replace it with another, only changing the rise/run of each step. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if we increase the run of each step to allow for more "footing", we would have to also increase the rise. In other words, we would have less total steps with an increase in both rise and run in order to cover the same run of the overall staircase.

#4
02-22-06, 05:41 AM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 4
Originally Posted by plumbobsqrpants
An elevator was my first thought, but...

Unfortunaetly, a landing and/or switchbacks are not an option either due to the limited space. The first step (at the bottom) is a mere 6" from the front door (when open). The top of the staircase is in the middle of the upstairs hallway, in front of a full bath. A very poor design!

I thought perhaps if we remove the staircase and replace it with another, only changing the rise/run of each step. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if we increase the run of each step to allow for more "footing", we would have to also increase the rise. In other words, we would have less total steps with an increase in both rise and run in order to cover the same run of the overall staircase.

I think you are correct. Measure carefully though. I would also recommend figuring the rise/run before you pull the existing staircase and to test your math with some mock ups.

I have the same issue in my house. But have decided to leave well enough alone, and tightened the banister.

Good Luck

#5
02-22-06, 08:00 AM
Member
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 857
Originally Posted by plumbobsqrpants
An elevator was my first thought, but...

Unfortunaetly, a landing and/or switchbacks are not an option either due to the limited space. The first step (at the bottom) is a mere 6" from the front door (when open). The top of the staircase is in the middle of the upstairs hallway, in front of a full bath. A very poor design!

I thought perhaps if we remove the staircase and replace it with another, only changing the rise/run of each step. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if we increase the run of each step to allow for more "footing", we would have to also increase the rise. In other words, we would have less total steps with an increase in both rise and run in order to cover the same run of the overall staircase.
There a maximum height restrictions to a rise...so this may not be possible. Here is some mathematical calculations to detemine if it will work:

The rise should not be less than 4 inches or you will stumble on it, nor more than 9 inches or it becomes a ladder. Then within those limits, the rise times the run should equal 75. There are several other formulas that are valid, but this one works well for standard stairways.

Measure the total rise. The total rise is measured from the top of the floor to the top of the floor above. We want each individual step to be somewhere between 4 and 9 inches -- that is how far you will have to pick up your foot. Using 7 inches as a riser example, divide 7 into the total rise and that gives you the number of steps. Round it up or down to an even number of steps, you never want one step a different rise than the others as you would stumble on it every time you negotiated the steps.

Now divide 7 into 75, my formula in the second graphic: rise x run = 75. That gives these steps a run of 10.7 inches. I suggest you actually draw the triangle out on the wall where the steps will go. That will allow you to measure directly down from where you might bump your head on the floor opening above to the diagonal of your stair triangle. If you do not have 80 inches of clearance, you will need to make the floor opening bigger or make the stairway steeper. One trick with the floor opening is to have the opening on an angle, not square, you gain an inch or so clearance.

If you need to, try it all over again with a rise of 7-1/2 or 8 inches, until you get the clearance you need.

#6
02-22-06, 01:52 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Texas
Posts: 655
Whatever you do, ensure that there is adequate headroom. Either that or stockpile hardhats at top and bottom of stairs.

One other thought, which may not be any better, but take a look anyway:

Current situation: BOS: at front door on 1st floor;
TOS: step into the bathroom on the 2nd floor.

Proposed situation: BOS: under the bathroom door on the floor above;
TOS: step out onto the 2nd floor above the front door.

There are some downsides:
- walk past the stairs from the front door to ascend
- walk past the stairs on the 2nd floor to get to the bathroom
- duck under the stairs when entering the front door

It's just a thought.

#7
02-22-06, 01:57 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Texas
Posts: 655
The top of the staircase is in the middle of the upstairs hallway, in front of a full bath
So...if the staircase ends in the MIDDLE of the upstairs hallway, how much more hallway exists beyond the top of the stairs?

#8
02-22-06, 04:48 PM
Member
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 3,140
Steep Stairs

You might try this trick. I have used it many times in tight situations. It does not work everytime, but may be worth a try. Don't worry about the run rise ratio. You cannot control it. So leave the rise alone. But maybe you could put on wider steps. For instance if your steps are 10" wide, maybe making the 12" wide will make the more stable for you. That way your only making the tread wider or deeper depending on how your looking at it. YOur rise will remail the same, and the only loss will be the width increase on the bottom. An inch or two. Good Luck

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off