"Floating stairs" - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 20 Old 01-22-2013, 09:06 AM Thread Starter
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"Floating stairs"

I am sure this is an engineering question. However, if like the input of someone that has done this before. I'm getting ready to build my house and want to do floating stairs. The type that look as though they are extruded from the wall. How are these achieved structurally?
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post #2 of 20 Old 01-22-2013, 09:25 AM
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I'm guessing you would need some angle iron tied into some heavy duty wall framing members.

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post #3 of 20 Old 01-22-2013, 09:30 AM Thread Starter
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If at all possible. I would like to avoid that. I have and beautiful old timbers I'd like to use. My first instinct says split them down the middle and wrap them around steel.
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post #4 of 20 Old 01-22-2013, 09:33 AM
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Yes, you could wrap the iron so it would not be seen.

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post #5 of 20 Old 01-22-2013, 10:55 AM
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I do not know where you live, but if you are close to Bucks County PA, consider a trip to the Wharton Escherick museum.

The site home page shows a spectacular floating staircase built by Wharton, all wood including the centre post. Very impressive.

http://whartonesherickmuseum.org/

I cannot recommend copying this, but it is a sight worth seeing.

So it is possible to have this as all wood, it just takes a lot of planning, work and the right materials.
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post #6 of 20 Old 01-22-2013, 11:18 AM
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Loretto Chapel

Check out the Loretto Chapel in Sante Fe.
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We saw it a few years ago. Totally awesome.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loretto_Chapel
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post #7 of 20 Old 01-22-2013, 11:39 AM
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the steel weldment is the typical application for floating look. trying to cantilever a wooden step will take considerable structural elements, designed and installed extremely well to work, but can be done. steel that is then covered up as mentioned is a good approach. a lot depends on your design tho.
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post #8 of 20 Old 01-23-2013, 10:32 AM Thread Starter
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I got in touch with my steel guy. He said this should be a piece of cake. I will keep y'all posted!
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post #9 of 20 Old 01-25-2013, 08:57 PM
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A piece of cake? I take it neither you or your steel guy has done this before.
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post #10 of 20 Old 01-25-2013, 09:51 PM
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My brother did a set like this for a client and he had to make sure the wall framing was in line with the stair and at the right angle (the wall was circular). The iron was attached to the framing and buried into the stair so it looked like planks sticking out of the wall with no visible support. Very cool.
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post #11 of 20 Old 01-26-2013, 08:25 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, Keith. A piece of cake. He has done these before. He is very talented. Furthermore, I have a tremendous confidence in my abilities. Why is there always a negative nancy chiming in on a forum thread???
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post #12 of 20 Old 01-26-2013, 10:39 AM
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Primarily because I'm a stairbuilder. I hope your job turns out well but it really isn't a piece of cake. The GC's I deal with would require it to be stamped by a structural engineer. Just because it won't break doesn't mean it won't bounce like a short diving board.
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post #13 of 20 Old 01-26-2013, 10:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your input and support. This particular staircase is in my personal home. I will keep you posted.
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post #14 of 20 Old 01-26-2013, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cfullen View Post
Why is there always a negative nancy chiming in on a forum thread???
Why, because not all ideas or methods are positive. Would you prefer everyone to just agree with you? The value of a forum like this is that there are some experts...believe it or not, that do certain work for a living. Professionals would be another term. I'm not saying that all professionals are always correct with their advice, but their advice should be considered.

You could get advice from members that have no idea what they are talking about, or done the project once, or knew someone whose brothers best friend's neighbor did it.




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post #15 of 20 Old 01-26-2013, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Mathewson
A piece of cake? I take it neither you or your steel guy has done this before.
What kind of advice is this comment?
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post #16 of 20 Old 01-26-2013, 08:18 PM
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There was advise in the comment but it wasn't delivered in the manner it should have been. I was affronted by the assertion that this type of stair was extremely easy to build. While the woodworking part of it is not particularly difficult to do, the structural considerations do require some real planning. I recall a company several years ago who did all the floating stairs for a set of upper-end condos with the stairs of any two units sharing the same wall. When the owner of one unit went up the stairs his neighbors stairs danced. From what I was told a lawsuit followed.
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post #17 of 20 Old 01-26-2013, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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Well fair enough. Like I said, my steel guy is very talented. My architect and I are over engineering this particular wall (2x8 studs 6" O.C.). I am going to mortise out a channel to accept a 2" thick lam beam for us to bolt the steel to. I feel confident that we will get very little deflection, if any. Does this seem sufficient?
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post #18 of 20 Old 01-26-2013, 10:46 PM
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Your plan does seem sufficient to me, but I want to stress that I am not an engineer. The best advise I could give you is not to rely on either your architect or metal worker but spend a few dollars and have a structural model done. In my experience they are very poor at mortised stairs but good at steel and metal fasteners.

Last edited by Keith Mathewson; 01-27-2013 at 03:37 AM.
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post #19 of 20 Old 01-26-2013, 11:33 PM
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it's possible

Just imagineering here... I could see a channel running like a stringer imbedded in the wall studs and anchored, posibly with a matching plate on the other side. Then all the tread channels would be welded to the diagonal channel and lay horizontal. Then wood would be used to encase the all the metal. It would have to be "stout" but I think it would be doable. Piece of cake? maybe to a steel fabricator.... woodworker, not so much.
Another method would be to use tension cables or rods to put the treads in compression and draw them into a locking mortise in the channel or possibly a big arse beam... I mean "big" like a 6 x 14" . The rod ends would be counter bored so they don't show. You could tighten it up every month or so... just for piece of mind/cake...

I worked at GM Design and we had some suspended stairs in the various buildings:
http://blog.spiralstairs.co.uk/2012/03/iconic-staircases-01-general-motors.html

Floating stairs:
http://www.toxel.com/inspiration/200...rcase-designs/




GM Technical Center

Designed by Kevin Roche, the GM Design lobby staircase is made of 7-foot, 4-inch terrazzo slabs, which overlap each other. The are actually suspended from above. Each tread is caught in tension between pencil-thin stainless steel rods. (4/15/2011)

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 01-26-2013 at 11:44 PM.
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post #20 of 20 Old 02-20-2013, 10:55 PM
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I wished I had pics but I don't. I completely encased a steel member with walnut for a Nike bigwig lawyer. I had to build wooden stringers out of 1 1/8" plywood. They bolted down onto the flat steel structure. Prefabricated treads and risers and panels were sent to me and 2weekss later we were looking at an awesome set of stairs with stainless steel and glass rails. Mind you, coordination was key. Between the steel guys, glazers, and us. My nerves were shot by the end.. Sad thing about the whole thing was the protection they put down didn't protect it and a floor company had to come out and completely refinish the treads. The steel structure was 2 plates of 3/4" Steel top and bottom welded to runners the side to make it 5" thick by 4'.
Good luck
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