Monday, June 4, 2018

Building Stairs - Most anywhere!!!

Bandera TX.  - Love this part of the Texas Hill Country.  Love building stairs all over the U.S.   Being able to move about in a Fifth Wheel Trailer and build stairs is a blessing.  Darci and I are thankful we are not weighed down by cultural norms.  Maybe we will get invited to Canada to build a custom staircase.  Seems we have a lot of Canadian followers.

Beautiful Wood Balusters - are coming back!!!

OK,  I realize most people equate wood balusters to the standard cheap white ones that builders and contractors put in.  Over the last couple of years people are noticing the beauty of finely turned wood balusters.  We have a wonderful vendor that can turn anything someone could image or match a classic turn from a historic home.  

Let's rethink the wood baluster.  Iron are nice, but nothing beats the beauty of a finely turned baluster or post.

Monday, May 14, 2018

May I Rant a bit about Flooring on Stairs!

Recently we went into 2 homes (again) who either were considering allowing the flooring company to do the stair or had already started it. 

On the first - The home was a million dollar home with property in the Fredericksburg area.  It is a new build and they had a simple closed stair.  They related they had a quote for the flooring company to put the stair in.  We told them solid wood treads would be more expensive.  Like anything - you get what you pay for.  After we quoted them they opted to let the flooring people do it because it was cheaper.  Here is a list of what seems obvious reasons not to let flooring companies put flooring on your stair:

1. The laminate is slippery
2. If they are "solid treads" all we have found are solid particle wood on the inside with a veneer on the outside.  Those can breakdown over time.
3. Most flooring company's do not put the treads and risers in tight to the wall and cover their gaps with putty or trim. NOT PROFESSIONAL
4. The nosing always looks weird when attached instead of just part of the tread.  Those can loosen over time.
5. An obvious reason is color; Their colors are created at the manufacturer - after about 5-7 years they update colors and if there is damage and replacement needed good luck finding it.

The second custom home the homeowners are remodeling and let the flooring company start the stair - They got up 5-6 steps and the homeowner stopped them.  Saw the gaps noted above, saw how they cover with trim pieces, and did not like to look at all.  I have shared a picture below:

The builder did this.  We also run into stairs with the rise to high or not even close to uniform.  These are all issues that can be resolved.  When you take carpet off your stair the majority of the time the rise is off and needs adjusting.  A solid wood tread is 1 1/8 thick.  Flooring is not as thick and hence often times adds to the rise.  I have never heard of a flooring company that will re-frame as needed to accommodate a uniform rise.  They just slap it on as is.

Austin TX - Stair update 4-2018

Please Note the bottom step change and newel posts.  When we took out the old stair, posts were just not secure and balusters were loose.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Rake Wall -vs- Open Stair

What is a rake wall?  it is the short wall on your stair that closes in your steps so they are not seen.  So these walls do have their place and purpose.  But if your stair is in a predominate part of your house they should be open. Contractors and Home builders use the Rake wall to lower the cost of the build or because they do not have the skill set on staff to build a proper stair.  If you are already considering a remodel on your stair opening them up does not add very much to the over all cost.  Below is a recent small remodel where we opened up the stair. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Stair Rails - What you don't know - but should

Both are Oak.  The one in the foreground is your standard build contractor rail - commonly used.
The one is the back is called "Comfort" rail and a much nicer rail and is made exclusively by a company in St. Louis - We love this rail and every person who puts their hand on it and see why.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Stair with Kids Space

Client needed their stair updated but also wanted to utilize the dead space underneath for a play house for their 3 year old daughter.  Let me just say how much I love doing stuff for kids.  Did things for my kids when they were young - now they are grown and I get to do things for my grandkids someday!  More pictures below

This is what it looked like.  notice the metal rail system with the small wood rail attached at the top.

Steps were pine and were not holding up, Client did the stair first, they selected the color to match new flooring that will be going in next.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Radius Stair - Austin

This stair was a bit dated with a rod iron railing and balusters. The other issue with that type of railing system is that it is not to code.  The lower rail portion skirts the top of each step and leaves a gap that is large enough for a small child's head.  See below for an example.

So Steve is busy re-framing the stair.  The stairs originally had carpet.  Whenever you pull carpet off the stairs 90% of the time the steps are not to code and you cannot just add treads to it.  There is usually some adjustments needed to accommodate new treads.

This is the original stair.

Keep watching for updates on how this stair is coming along.

Progressing Well  Week 4 - client added the removal of (2) columns in the entry as well as changes to walls and wrapping floor to ceiling with paint grade wood to be painted.  Should be ready to bend the stair rail first of next week sometime.

Balcony is in!!!  Also note we opened the wall at the top of the stairs.

Thursday - 1st day of bending.  Just doing small outside bend today - tomorrow I will bend the really long inside rail.  Darci will be helping me with that one.  Then we will break for Thanksgiving week.

The Treads are in and things are moving along beautifully!

Rails have been sanded and prepped - staining today - will hang on Friday if all goes as planned.

The Hill Country Home Show - Come See us there!!

Come and Join us this weekend!!!  We are having a drawing for some sweet treats from an area Pastry Chef.

Sweet Thang Desserts and Pastery

Follow the link for more Information:

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Helping hands near Marble Falls, TX

Moving around like we do, and being a stair guy we had a neighbor with back issues and other health concerns going in and out of his RV and the 2 steps below that were definitely hard on the knees.  So with the help of David who helps maintain the park we whipped out a new set of stairs to make his life easier.

I always praise our Lord and Savior for even these small opportunities to help one of my brothers or sisters.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Custom Screens

Older homes have their own size screens.  Nothing is standard - so when the screens wear out you have to actually build them custom to each opening.  Turned out great - now just waiting for the painter.

Reframe rise - added 2 steps

Stair on the left is the original (obviously)  It had tile, the steps were too tall and was no where near code.  Not to mention homeowner suffers from arthritis and taking those huge steps was very difficult and sometimes painful.  So I added 2 steps, pulled the stair out a little and now there is a 6 1/8th rise. So much easier for the homeowner and beautiful as well.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

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

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.

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.