Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Iron Balusters - Hollow or Solid? Does is matter?

As a professional Stair Guy (building and remodeling stairs for over 25 years)  What is the difference in hollow and solid balusters?  A lot believe it or not.  I have to assume that someone came up with the idea to sell a cheaper product to make more money of course, but also it may be because drilling the holes top and bottom to be even and straight takes some skill.  Any thing hollow will bend with any direct force.  And the way they are installed makes them easy to kick out.  Not that people go around kicking out their balusters, but things happen - kids - angry teens, large pieces of furniture being moved up and down the staircase.

Installation:  Solid iron balusters are drilled at the top and bottom, secure with epoxy and wedged at the top and bottom.  If placed into solid wood cap (and not laminate flooring) you cannot kick them out or bend them.

Hollow balusters have a lag bolt that is drilled into the cap, with an inch threaded top to secure the baluster too.  Not sure how the top is secured.  My hope is they are shimmed at least.  I have included the instruction they give out with the hollow balusters below for your review.




Hollow balusters are not secure - cheaper yes,

but like anything else we buy - You get what you pay for.  You want cheap - buy cheap.






















Rails from China - the rails are Finger Joined. Two things wrong with that - weaker and if it gets wet it will come apart.
Where as the Rails made in the US by a reputable Stair parts house are "stacked" as you can see below.  Much stronger and the seams do not show when stained.

Stair Building - An Art with few Masters Left.

Can just any carpenter build or remodel a stair?  Sure, to a point.  Stair building is an art and a specialty trade.  Many do not realize there is more to building or remodeling a stair case then just slapping the treads on and calling it a day.

At the end of this post you will see several stairs I was called in to "fix" because the flooring company or contractor carpenter was in over their head.

Here is a list of things every homeowner should know and ask every carpenter/contractor before remodeling their stairs:

1.  If your stair has carpet and you are going to wood treads, Most builders cover a lot of issues with the carpet and the stair rise is usually not to code and will need some re-framing.  Especially the starting and end step.  7in rise 11in run.  It can only very 3/8 inch from bottom to top, and of course they should all be level, should be obvious - but you would be surprised.  The over hang nosing should all be uniform of course.

2. How do the treads go in? Should be glued and nailed down and no putty should be used except to cover very small nail holes.  A trained stair carpenter will cut treads to fit tight and no putty should ever be needed, except for the nail holes, period!!!

3. For your rail: Do they bolt the rail together or screw and nail.  Screw and Nail is just wrong and will later become a safety issue, especially in a home with children.  This will also be a cause for loose balusters later.

4. Should you put flooring on your stair? An Absolute No!.  Flooring is for floors - Sure Flooring companies will say they can put it on the stair, yes the The Big Box stores carry wood floor "especially" for stairs.  Bottom line - it will not hold up, it is difficult/impossible to repair and if they are selling you on wood flooring, ask them - if a portion is damaged - how is it repaired?  I would love to hear their solution.  After several years go by and that specific type of flooring is no longer available - how do you repair/replace it.  With solid treads, in the unlikely case of damage, you simply sand it in place and re-stain or pull it out and put a new one in.

5. Balusters:  Are you replacing your wood with Iron,  be sure the pattern is uniform. If you have an older home and your balusters will need to be brought to code if they are not.  If they are not to code, your will most likely need to replace your rail as well because holes will need to be re-drilled.  Can you just stick them in there? sure, but if you are selling your house and the family who wants to buy it has small children it may be a deal breaker for safety reasons.

I believe I have covered some basics - It is really important to have an actual "Stair Company" do your stairs, they will have the knowledge base and know how to get the job done correctly and beautifully.  Your stair is like a fine piece of furniture - a focal point of the home - It should look
awesome!!


Below are some recent issues we were called on the trouble shoot due to inexperience
This Stair had actually been just "remodeled" by client's contractor - we were called to bid a re-do
Below is what you get when you do not bolt the rail.  please watch


Monday, May 29, 2017

Stair Remodel - Step by Step


Before and After  - Austin TX
Stair Remodel



Thought it would be helpful to see a stair remodeled.

1.  Day 1 - Present stair - needs some updating

Take note of the Posts along the stair.  It is not to code as well as a safety issue to not have a rail you can hold onto continuously as to go up or down the stair.  With each post tip you have to release your hand for the next section.  If you have an older person in your life or small kids this is definitely a safety issue and should be addressed.
2.  The Tear-out and begin with proper skirts instead of the casing trim that was originally used.
Still Day 1

Day 1 continues - finding that the stair was not framed correctly in places. Making adjustments as I go. - will post as Steve uploads photos

End of Day 1: starting step in, skirts, a couple of tread ends and risers.  looking good!!!  Love the color stain homeowner selected.

Day 2 - inside Skirting completed.


End of Day 2:

Day 3 - Going well.  Most of cap, skirts and trim are in.

End of Day 3:  Note Since I am working out of town putting in 10-12 days.


Day 4 - time to start hanging rails


Day 5 - Finished hanging Rails - now to start put in the iron balusters.


Day 5 continues with putting the iron balusters in

Tomorrow just a little touch up here and there and all done.  I am sure the homeowner will be pleased.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Carpet off !!! New Solid Wood Treads On !

Beautiful finish!!!

Tired of hauling that vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs?  This homeowner was - she was happy to only have to use a swifter and hit with a damp mop every now and then.

What a time saver for her.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Stair Remodel Austin TX

We do travel a bit to do stairs and whatever custom work that needs to be done.  It is nice that my wife can also run her business from the internet so moving around for me to do work is never an issue - We just hook up our 5th Wheel and off we go.!!  Being "mobile" opens many opportunities.

Even though Austin TX is 2.5 hours from me, it is just easier to move the rig up there and do the work.  I just prep everything here in the shop and then hit the Road.

Here is the before:
And the After - this client was awesome - since they were so far away we walked them through the measurements needed and we were able to estimate it out from there.

Stair Remodel - Scroll Balusters look beautiful!!!

Before the Remodel - can anyone say "Dated"


The posts to the ceiling were decorative only and most of the stair was just pin nailed - no glue - nothing screwed down.  A definite safety hazard for the kiddos.

The client chose her pattern she liked - we tweaked the layout a bit to make it affordable and it turned out just beautiful


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Manger 2016


Client wanted a manger scene made for his wife for Christmas, He provided a picture and measurements. So with some pressure treated wood 2x4s and 2x8s I was able to build the manger and carve out Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus.  Painted it black and it is ready to go.  What I really like is since we live in Texas presently, they used their own TX star lit on the house.
Ingenious!!!

Merry Christmas All - and have a Blessed New year

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Your Friendly Local Carpenter - Handyman

Christmas is here!! - Your local carpenter or handyman are usually available to come by and take care of some of your small jobs that you would like done before you host that holiday dinner.

No job is too small this time of year!!  Many are not working because people do not have the time or desire to get those big jobs done. Most Handy guys will happily come by and fix that drawer, hang some things, or repair that unsightly gutter hanging off your house or any number of little things.  Steve loves the standard "Honey-Do" list where he comes in and spends a day just fixing stuff.  

So if you are looking at a bunch of small items that just need done and would really like them taken care of before that Holiday dinner, or before the New Year - give your local carpenter or handyman a call and see if they have room for you.  Most do, and the rates are cheaper this time of year because they need the work.

Have a Blessed Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!!

Laundry Cabinet - Just in time for Christmas

Home owner was remodeling the Bathroom and wanted a large pull out drawer for laundry.  Something that would match his existing cabinetry.  Client emailed us a picture - we went and did measurements and a week later he had his cabinet.

He was more then pleased with the quality of the work. 




 This is the finish - below you will see the before.

This is the before.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Stairs - San Antonio TX




The Stair had this strange round starting step that the homeowner did not like.  Contractor doing the remodel of the home did not have a stair contractor so the homeowner found us on AngiesList.

We squared off the starting step with a new step.  Second step also needed to be replaced.  We then add a post and rail system with iron balusters the client selected from our website.

They were living in the house with small children so a safety rail was needed in the interim.  I was also able to put in pre-stained material to reduce the smell in the house during install that usually comes from stain lacquer.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Bare Wall to Beautiful fireplace


Client had purchased an electric fireplace.  She has a vision of what her mantle should look like.  I was able to build it to her vision and make it look like it was always there.  She loves it and had that wonderful piece of rock placed on the hearth to finish it off.

Wood becomes Rail - Custom Stair Rail

We traveled up to Austin TX for this job, Parked at Lake Travis - what a beautiful area.

Clients found picture of what they wanted on the internet, (we get a lot of that).  So what started out as a big chunk of oak turned into a beautiful Rail for their stair.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Wet Bar - Be Gone!!!

Another Wet Bar has been replace with a use able desk.  This is in the family room and near the kitchen.  The kitchen has white cabinetry as well so everything flows together.  Homeowners remodel is going well.  Flooring next.  I may be going back for a few more projects as the homeowner continues to upgrade for selling purposes.

Wet Bars have no real use anymore.  I remember my parents having one from the 50s through the 70s.  Don't think they ever used one after that.

Would love you hear your Wet Bar Story

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Attic Stairs

Do you have one of these in your garage?  The idea is to make your attic space avail for storage. The most frustrating thing about this is you are limited to the opening - good luck getting any larger items up there.

Does it close all the way? the hinges come loose and won't close at all?  These are all common complaints I hear all the time.  Or maybe you have attic space and no way to utilize it.

I have recently installed a couple of basic stairs in the garage so homeowners can actually use the space above the garage for storage or an extra room.


Call me if you are interested in doing something like this.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Wedding Back Drop - Daughter's Wedding

My daughter was married this April 2nd.  A month ago she found a picture in Pintrest and said she wanted something like it only more rustic for her outdoor wedding at a local ranch out here in Texas.  This is what I came up with, decorated with her sunflowers it turned out beautiful and she loved it.

I do have a couple more sets of doors so I can make a couple of more if anyone needs something like this for their wedding or have their own vision.

Labor and materials, depending on what you want done will run between $350-$600.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Helping Hands - More Crosses























Friend at church gave me this pink cross and asked if I could make more with stands so she could stain them and give out at an event she and her group were doing.  Of course I said yes - definitely a labor of love.

I am continuelly blessed to be able to serve others for God's Kingdom

Bench Seating - Kitchen

Hard to see in the picture because of the white paint - but the backs are bead board and have a slight angle for a comfortable sit.  all square areas of the bench open for storage.  Now just slide the table in and we are ready to eat!!!




you can see the before right below.




Mantle - paint grade white

I just love doing mantles - Solid maple - painted white.  FYI  maple takes paint well because it is not overly porous so you get really good coverage if using quality paint.

This is what it looked like before we added the mantle.  Pretty plain - I would think in a custom home the buyer would get a little more then this.