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post #1 of 11 Old 03-25-2010, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Finshed stairway question

Greetings All,
I just wrapped up a staircase project and would like an opinion of how other folks would approach this type of work. My treads are Brazillian cherry with a natural finish. Risers are poplar, painted white. Skitrboards are 3 pieces of domestic cherry, the middle piece being stained dark. Since I have different finishes on some components, I decided to prefinish everything prior to installing. After the skirtboards went in, I cut the treads and risers to fit, and then painted or stained. Where the white risers meet the stained wood is a very clean look, no paint slopped around. That was one of my main goals. (I hate painting)

Would you good people have installed everything raw, and then finish afterward? Or prefinish like I did? It seemed like it took a lot of my time to prefinish everything.

Lastly, what size of a gap would most customers tolerate? As a tool and die maker, I work in thousandths all the time (when I work, that is ). I understand wood contracts and expands width-wise, and concessions need to be made for this. But, some may be surprised how big just a 1/32 gap looks when a dark tread butts up to a white riser or skirtboard. I took my time and made it all fit without gaps, but how tightly do customers expect their work to be constructed?
Luckily, I wasn't under any sort of a time constraint, since I'm 'in between jobs', this is a good time to knock down a few items on the honeydew list. All in all SWMBO is happy, and we did save a lot by doing it our(my)self. I'm mainly looking to learn the best way to approach problems like this, in case I do another staircase. Thanks, CH
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post #2 of 11 Old 03-26-2010, 03:29 AM
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Nice work CH,

I can't quite tell from the photo but are those winders leagal? They look kind of narrow on the inside.

I don't like doing paint and finish either but if you have to I think pre-finishing saves a lot of time in the long run.

I like building stairs. I've done quite a few over the years. They make you think although you have to put up with people walking through your work area all day.

Here's some stairs and railings I've done which I remembered to photograph.

Bret
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post #3 of 11 Old 03-26-2010, 08:57 AM Thread Starter
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I'm assuming they're legal since the inspector signed off on 'em. No bribe necessary either...
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post #4 of 11 Old 03-26-2010, 11:02 AM
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Good, you had me worried there. I've been called on the silliest things. Sometimes the inspectors don't understand common sense.

Bret
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post #5 of 11 Old 03-26-2010, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Those are some nice stairs you've built, Bret. I actually cheated on mine. We had a major remodel done a few years ago, but couldn't decide on the finish stairs at the time. So, I had the framing contractor build basic stairs out of dimensional lumber. A few months ago I decided it was time to do the permanent stairs, and removed his treads/risers. I kept the stringers, after all, why remove what's nice and solid?? But I'm wondering how you keep everything from squeaking over time? I used Liquid Nails everywhere that wood meets wood, and it feels nice and solid. At least for now....
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post #6 of 11 Old 03-27-2010, 10:33 AM
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Squeaks?

CH,

I don't live in any of the homes shown in my photos so I'm not sure if they are squeaking or not but I'm assuming there are some.

Framed stairs that are covered with carpet using LSL stringers and treads and plenty of construction adhesive are the most squeak free. I like to use plywood risers which go on first then use ring shank nails to fasten the bottom of the riser into the back edge of the treads. I like to use LSL rim board for cutting my stringers which beats solid wood for strength and stability.

With solid wood treads, which by nature are subject to movement, again the connection at the back of the tread to the riser is important. If the tread flexes against the riser, it might squeak there and is best to screw it but sometimes is impossible.

I'm not hearing back from customers complaining about squeaking stairs. They are either not squeaking or the squeaking is accepted as normal. I'm not sure which but probably a little of both.

Bret
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post #7 of 11 Old 03-27-2010, 01:06 PM
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It may be a smidge different depending on the area of the country, not sure how many follow the BOCA, anyway, the Rule is 12" along the nosing out from the narrow point of the winder must no less than 10" wide from nosing to riser up.
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post #8 of 11 Old 03-27-2010, 02:19 PM
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CH, Bret - do you typically cut your riser and tread dados to allow for a wedge to be inserted or do you cut them to fit just the tread and riser.
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post #9 of 11 Old 03-27-2010, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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bb71, I can't honestly say I do stairs. This was a one off project and my first time doing a staircase. I used the stringers that my GC installed, and I only did the treads, risers and skirts. But I would like to learn how the pros do it anyway.
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post #10 of 11 Old 03-27-2010, 06:46 PM
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I believe bb71 is referring to shop milled stair parts where the treads and riser are fit into plough routed into the stringers which usually are designed to allow the insertion of wedges to tighten everything up. This application does not work if the treads are "open" on one end or both as it is in most cases these days. Here on the West Coast I have not seen a set of stairs like that in a new home in thirty years. I Have seen them in older homes that we have remodeled and it seemed to me they were always squeaky. I think the wedges work loose over time.

Typically now days the stringers are installed at rough framing and held away from the framed wall by the width of a 2 x 4 (1-1/2") to allow for the drywall and finished "skirt board" to slip behind the treads and riser.

Our local code enforcement is according to the IRC, which for winders requires 6" minimum tread width at the narrowest point and 9" min. width 12" out from the narrowest point.

Bret
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post #11 of 11 Old 03-27-2010, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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Yup, I've seen the notched stringers on TOH, wasn't sure of how widely they were used in the real world. Looked like a PIA if you wanted to add skirts. Luckily, my framing guy used 2x4's between the stringer and wall, as you mentioned.
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