Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Let's talk about stairs......

I have been building stairs for most of my carpentry life.  Probably about 25+ years or so.  Being a DIY guy as well I completely understand a homeowner wanting to save some money and stepping out and attempting a stair remodel on their own.

I bring this up due to several estimate calls I have been on where the homeowner either started it him/herself or hired a general carpenter with little to no experience with stairs.  Once they get the treads and risers in, they wonder how to put the balusters and the rail up and see the difficulty in that. Then they call me or another stair builder.

1. First issue, many stairs that are carpeted over plywood are not all the same height on the rise.
2. Many builders do not account for proper height in the first place.
3. The Skirt (white part along the wall) has to be cut in first, can be difficult on even a straight stair.
4. Balusters have to be cut for the install - if the rise is all different - how would you account for the pattern to be correct upon the finish?
5. Ordering your own materials can also be a bit of a challenge. Recently had a client who has a relationship with a local company ordered materials, problem no one measured or viewed the project. assumptions were made by the lumber company and when I showed up for the install the risers were too short and had to be reordered.  Also no paint grade oak cove was avail so I had to make my own.  I do not mind doing that - but many do not think about the molding for the finished look.

These are just a few things to think about if you decide to tackle this very  complicated remodel of your stairs.  I have been known to allow homeowners to help if they are interested in learning - but I will charge extra if they are a pain in the neck.

If you have a wood stair and want to update the look, it is easy and fairly inexpensive to replace wood balusters with iron.  Changes the whole look of the stair with minimum cost.