Closing Open Risers - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 Old 11-10-2017, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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Question Closing Open Risers

Hi,

We're moving into a new (to us) home. The staircase has nice open risers on oak stairs. I've attached a couple photos to show how they currently are. However, we have a small dog and smaller cat, and the way they race around when excited, I'm pretty sure someone would go through the stairs and face a terrible fall. So we need to make sure this won't happen.

So I'm looking for ideas on how to do it. In a general sense, it would be nice for it not to be permanent, so that if we well the place in several years we could have the option of returning it to it's prettiest condition, which means not leaving holes everywhere.

Ideas I had include something clear like lexan. This option seems fairly expensive though, and I don't know if it would actually look nice or if it would be reflecty and smudgey and cheap looking. Another option is something like this particle board oak veneer riser (https://www.homedepot.ca/en/home/p.o...000433305.html) as long as I could stain it to be similar. Still haven't thought how best to attach it. A third option could be to somehow attach more metal bars, but I think it may not look great and little legs would still go through and cause hurt. At the same time, notice that the railing does not go down to the stairs. It would be nice if this was blocked too, though being at the side of the stairs, it's less likely that anyone will go through there.

Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks,
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post #2 of 11 Old 11-10-2017, 12:38 AM
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Give it a while

Those open risers have a great look and I would want to keep them that way, personally. Let the pets do their thing and they will quickly learn what happens when or if they should fall. Cats can fall hundreds of feet with no ill effects, landing on their feet!

Clear panels will never stay clean and other woods won't look good. They only thing I can come up with that will match the industrial chic you have, are painted steel panels attached with either 2 or 4 screws at the ends. I would just wait and see however.

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)
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post #3 of 11 Old 11-10-2017, 07:00 AM
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You might have to get a painter to stain the risers to match but you could make them out of oak and apply them to the stairs with two sided tape. Then it would be easily removable.

To me the color looks like Minwax Golden Oak.
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post #4 of 11 Old 11-10-2017, 07:29 AM
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I would be more concerned about small children than pets. Especially the open under the railings. Kids just try to see what small spaces they can fit through.

Pets are not likely to be "racing around" on stairs, but it could happen.

The idea of double sided tape is good. You could get 1/4" thick wood for the project as strength is not necessary. Even oak plywood might work.

George
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post #5 of 11 Old 11-10-2017, 09:42 AM
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oak, cut&finished to match + epoxy embedded magnets. all done.

or, string up a net and wait to see if it is actually a problem.....
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post #6 of 11 Old 11-10-2017, 10:42 AM
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pig fence!

I could call it "screen" but an open grid fence usually 2" X 3" would not only keep the little critters and chillin' from falling through, BUT it would maintain the open look, industrial chic... There are clip type fastners used to secure electrical wire with insulated covering, aka with a hole for the mounting screws. It would be easily removed, could be painted before installation and solve all your problems..... :smile3:

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)
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post #7 of 11 Old 11-10-2017, 01:47 PM
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If you cut 3/4” boards to fit the opening of each tread and screw each board to a pre-drilled 2 X 2” board, you could then screw the 2 X 2 to the underside of each step. This would not be strong but it would sufficiently cover the opening of each tread and keep the pets safe.
If later removed, the only screw holes will be on the bottom of each tread and would hardly be seen unless you went under the stair.

I agree with Woodnthings that chance of a pet going through the stair is very slim.
If a pet is afraid of the stair they will stay off it.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #8 of 11 Old 11-10-2017, 04:04 PM
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I see the bare wood treads as more of a problem for a small dog, we bought stair mats that we attached with double sided tape for our little buddy to get traction.

As woodnthings says give your dog some credit, it took our dog a while to get the courage to come up our deck stairs that are open like yours, I put some vinyl traction strips on them for my benefit and that helped him as well.
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post #9 of 11 Old 11-10-2017, 05:17 PM
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What I see as a threat is using the stairs with wet shoes or getting in a hurry. You could let you foot slip through there breaking your leg.
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post #10 of 11 Old 11-10-2017, 05:37 PM
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"Cats can fall hundreds of feet with no ill effects, landing on their feet!"

There are lots of anecdotal stories of cats falling from great heights and living. This has happened, but it is not something you would count on. Cats have a lot of fur and present a large planer area in relation to their weight. This helps slow their fall, but does not guarantee survival and most certainly does not guarantee the lack of broken legs.

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post #11 of 11 Old 11-12-2017, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies!

I think I'm leaning towards magnets, assuming the stringers are ferrous (I can't imagine that they wouldn't be). I think the cat would be fine, unlikely to fall and unlikely to be seriously hurt from a fall, but the dog probably could. Maybe it would be smart enough to be careful, but it'd only take one incident for us to severely regret not doing anything. And, we may have children in the future who could get in trouble. I know some building codes have restrictions like " opening between treads does not permit the passage of a sphere with a diameter of 4 inches" (I assume a small child's head?) but maybe that doesn't apply here.

The stair mats are also a nice and cheap option that probably make it safer all around. We did realize that the dog has always been fine on the wooden steps going from ground up to the balcony at my parents, though they are much rougher/grippier than these indoor ones.

Still a while before we take possession, but it's good to have ideas.
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