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