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?? about lumber and stair repair


lefty3's Avatar
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02-07-03, 05:56 AM   #1  
?? about lumber and stair repair

I need to repair 2 steps and in general increase the support of two 23 yr. old sets of stairs in my split level. I'm a newbie at this home repair stuff, but have had to put a lot of money into plumbing repairs so would like to try this myself.

One problem is a riser that had a big knot below which the board cracked. In addition, the tread was cut a bit short and doesn't quite meet the stringer. The other problem step is missing the wedges between the tread and the stringer, so the step rocks when stepped on.

Now my questions:

(1) The stairs and stringers look like pine to me. At Home Depot I see both pine and oak treads and risers, but I think of pine as a soft wood and oak is expensive. Would a thick (how thick?)plywood be any cheaper and just as good or better than the pine, or should I use the pine?

(2) I'm also thinking about putting in either a carrier or an additional stringer on one side. After looking for a "stringer board" in the Home Depot stair section , I figured out that regular lumber is being used. Again, is pine the wood of choice? I'm guessing that 1" thickness would be ok for an additional stringer but 2" for a carrier?

Thanks to all.

P.S. The stairs are carpeted so grain and appearance are not a concern.

 
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Woodsong's Avatar
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02-08-03, 11:54 AM   #2  
Woodsong
Re: ?? about lumber and stair repair

If you are carpeting the stairs then this is very easy. More than likely your stair stringers are 2x12 #2 yellow pine. This is the standard material for building stairs and is just fine for your stairs. You will need to install replacement stair treads and risers with material that is the exact size and shape as the preexisting. If you frame the one step with a different tread depth or thickness you will create one step that is different than all the others and you will not only have a tripping hazard but also a possible code violation (codes allow 3/8" max. difference between steps). Yellow pine is the typical stair tread. On carpeted steps I just use 3/4" subfloor scraps for the risers instead of 3/4" pine. It is cheaper, durable, and cuts down on waste.

2) I am trying to figure out why you are needing to install a new stringer at the side...? Can you explain this? #2 grade yellow pine is the typical stringer material if indeed you need to install a replacement. By adding a "carrier" do you mean a stiffener for the stringer to minimize deflection? Typically that is accomplished by installing a 2x4 along the bottom edge of the stringer....or are you refering to a ledger board to hang the stringer from at the top of the stairs? Please elaborate.

Remember your new stairs must have the exact same rise, run , and nosing for each and every step. There is about a 0.5% chance a set of precut stringers would actually work in your house.

[
Now my questions:

(1) The stairs and stringers look like pine to me. At Home Depot I see both pine and oak treads and risers, but I think of pine as a soft wood and oak is expensive. Would a thick (how thick?)plywood be any cheaper and just as good or better than the pine, or should I use the pine?

(2) I'm also thinking about putting in either a carrier or an additional stringer on one side. After looking for a "stringer board" in the Home Depot stair section , I figured out that regular lumber is being used. Again, is pine the wood of choice? I'm guessing that 1" thickness would be ok for an additional stringer but 2" for a carrier?

Thanks to all.

P.S. The stairs are carpeted so grain and appearance are not a concern. [/B][/QUOTE]

 
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02-08-03, 03:52 PM   #3  
A little more info...

Woodsong,

Although this would be easier if the stairs weren't yet carpeted, they already are and I was hoping to make the repairs from underneath. As for my terminology, I only know what I've read in books over the last 3 days, so I might not be describing things correctly.

From underneath, I can push up on one of the staircases and the whole thing moves, thus the reason for thinking I need a carriage (sorry, I said carrier before), which looks to me like a board cut like a stringer that runs in the middle of the staircase for extra support. Maybe a 2x4 along the bottom edge of each stringer would fix the larger movement and then I just need to replace the missing glue wedges on other stairs to keep them from moving.

The lower staircase is feeling more precarious each day, so I will go get a 2x4 and a 2x12 tonight, as well as a pine tread and riser to fix the one cracked stair. Once I've fixed the broken step, I'll check to see if there's any more advice about general support for the stairs before proceeding.

Thanks a lot for your help.

 
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02-09-03, 07:29 PM   #4  
Woodsong
hmm....
so if I am understanding your situation thus far, you have a set of stairs you can access from below. Stairs are carpeted and have stringers on each end, but not one in the center? How wide are your stairs? How thick are the stair treads (treads = the wooden part of the stair you actually step on when walking up/down the stairs)? If your stairs are 3' or less wide and the treads are made of 2x12's or something 1 1/2" thick then you are marginal, but might work. I would always frame stairs with a center stringer/carriage unless it was just for a little porch stoop and it was very narrow. Even then though...it only takes an extra couple of minutes to do it right and install 3 stringers/carriages.

But, if you have a set of stairs with no center stringer installed and one step is "flexing" a lot....I would install a couple of 2x4's across that step from edge stringer to edge stringer, nailed with the 3 1/2" face set verticle and use subfloor adhesive between the 2x4 and the stair tread and that should help strengthen that step.

Maybe I am completely misinterpreting what you are saying though! How old is your house? What are you refering to when you mention "glue wedges"?? The more I think about it, it sounds like you might be in a newer house that had some prefabricated stairs installed...? If so, the stairs would often only have routered out "boards" at the edge of the stairs where each tread sits in the routered groove and then small triangle shapes of wood are glued/stapled to the tread for extra support. Is this what you have??

Try and be as specific as possible...giving age of house and best vocabularly or description as possible. I am not convinced I have answered your question yet. Maybe someone else here can help decipher this??

COme back with more info again and I'll see if I can get it sorted out for you/me.

 
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02-09-03, 08:43 PM   #5  
Thanks for your patience

I think you are correct about the type of stringer. The house was built in 1976; I don't know if they had prefab stairs then. There are grooves thru half the stringer and the boards sit in/on the grooves and are held in place by 6" long glue wedges that are 3/4" at one end and taper to about 3/8". I think the treads are also nailed through the stringer from the side. There's a glue block in the middle where each tread edge meets the riser. In all I'm missing 2 wedges on the upper staircase and 5 on the lower.

The treads/risers are about 35" wide, each stringer is 1" thick with 1/2" routed out. Therefore the total width inside the stringer is 34" and outside is 36". The risers are 3/4" thick by 8" high, and the treads are 1" thick by maybe 9" deep (depending on how much they overhang the riser).

My thought is to do this in stages, but since I'm not experienced I am open to all suggestions:
1. Cut and/or reglue all the missing and loose wedges. Should I use wood glue or subfloor adhesive?

2. Use adhesive and screw 2x4's onto the flexing steps as you suggested.

3. Cut a carriage (using 2x12) and place as close to the staircase center as I can get it without removing glue blocks.

4. I've thought about reinforcing each stringer with a length of 2x4 with the 2" edge glued to the stringer and then the 4" side screwed into the studs where possible. Would that do any good?

Thanks again.


P.S. I want to use screws instead of nails so that if I still have lots of trouble after all my efforts, I can easily remove my stuff and a real carpenter can do something more permanent.

 
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02-10-03, 06:19 AM   #6  
Woodsong
your plan of action sounds good to me except for maybe adding the center stringer. If you are good with measuring and with a circular saw you might be able to pull it off, but that is no small task and to get it to fit good and actually support each step well would be very tricky. Not saying you can't do it, but you might find it very difficult to get it cut accurately and to fit good.

I am not following you in regards to your item #4. I can be slow sometimes you know?!

Good idea to use screws though!

Sounds like you have a good plan and can handle the job.

 
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