New wall around stairs


Old 03-21-05, 07:40 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 53
New wall around stairs

Not sure this is the right section for this post, but...

We need to build a new wall around the top of our stairs going to the second floor. You can see what is currently there at:

We have a new baby, so we were thinking that making this a half-wall instead of spindles would make more sense and be more secure. The house was built in the 1850, so they weren't thinking about moving anything 4x8 up the stairs, so the current clearance from the stairs to the top of the opening is 43" (you can see this on the second pic pretty well). If you remove the rail, remove the two small pieces of wood from the floor next to the wall (you can kind of make out where the two small pieces come up from the floor on the first pic), and remove the supporting piece of wood underneath that, you get another 6-8" depending on your angle, which is just enough to get something through. It's even easier if you remove the entire railing so you can just pull the sheets up past the stairs and don't have to go up and over the railing as well.

Anyway, I have three questions:

1) How do we make this sturdy? Whether we build a wall or stay with the spindles, we need it to be sturdy, especially on the unsupported end at the top of the stairs. This currently wobbles and shakes all over the place. We're going to have to put a baby gate up at the top of the stairs, so we don't want her to be able to push the gate away from the wobbly wall.

2) Is there any way to make this a wall, have it be sturdy, yet provide a way that we can remove it so we can move large things upstairs??

3) We're eventually going to remodel this entire room, including ripping up the plank floor and replacing it with real subfloor, and we'll probably want to carpet this section anyway to match the stairs. Should we replace the subfloor under the new wall section before we put up the wall, or is there a way to get around that??

Of course, my wife wants to get started on this right away, but I'd like to get as much advice and information as possible to save myself more work and headaches down the line.

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Old 03-23-05, 06:18 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 53
Does anybody have any suggestions or websites to help with any of this? At least any advice on making the end of the wall sturdy??

Old 03-27-05, 12:23 AM
awesomedell's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 2,425
Sorry I haven't replied before. I have looked at your pics, an I have seen quite a few older houses with that sort of flimsy railing on the stairs. With the new baby, I'd really recommend building a conventional half wall there, as this will be the most solid and safe. I've thought about your desire to have this be able to be taken down in order to move large objects up the stairs, but don't see a good way to do it. You can go ahead and build the wall now and worry about the carpet later, but IMO you would be better served to go ahead and do the complete job upstairs and update everything now. Even if you have to borrow the dough to do it, it's going to save you $$ in the long run. Plus less headaches, you get all of your sheetrock & large material items up there & then build the wall. You don't have the house messed up with construction going twice. And the cost of remodeling the upstairs isn't going to go down and if you're borrowing, I doubt the interest rates will either.

Now when I say build a wall, I'm not saying that you can't put up a traditional rail & ballister system, but to do it right and have it be sturdy, it's going to cost more than doing it in drywall & framing. That's my .02, as always worth the price charged. Good luck & feel free to post back if you have more questions or run into snags during the project.

As always you should make sure that all proper permits are pulled or there's a possiblity it'll come back to bite you in the butt when you get ready to sell. Hope this helps.

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