Replacing An Old Set Of Stairs

Old StairsAfter meeting the client for the first time it was obvious that these stairs were an important part of his every day life. John is an elderly man and uses his stairs every single day for exercise. Once up and once down he says is enough to keep him on top of his game.

The problem is they look like they are about to fall apart. I myself was hesitant to even walk up them to inspect, never mind using them for exercise. The treads are wobbly and some are barely attached. Not to mention the railing had worn over the years and was barely holding on.

It was noted that John also had some sheet metal attached at the side of the stairs to help divert water. This was necessary as he had a small workshop underneath the stairs that needed to stay dry. The problem is not fixed and still allows water to sneak through. The solution here is to install a counter flashing behind the siding to help divert the water away from the house and onto the corrugated sheet underneath.

drip flashing

Once the stairs were removed the extent of the rot was apparent. These stairs were built without the use of stringers and simply just a 2×4 block each side to hold up each tread. This is not a safe method of installing stairs. Not to mention the blocks were held in by screws and not nails.

With the old stairs removed and the counterflashing installed, the next step is to calculate the stringers and begin the build. Stringers are very tricky to perfect but are the most effective way to build stairs. Once the tread and the rise has been calculated then the stringers are cut out of 2×12 pressure treated boards.

These stairs are 3′ wide and we are using composite decking boards for treads. This means we need 4 stringers (stringers can be no further apart than 1 foot). With all the stringers cut and installed, all that is left is the housing and the treads. The housing is cut out of pre-primed combed spruce and attached the sides of the outside stringers. With a coat of paint covering the housing, the next step is to measure and cut every tread individually.

new stairsOnce all the treads are installed with colour matched screws, the last step is to attach the stair grips. These grips are an aluminum edging that attaches to the nosing of each tread. This helps with traction when using the stairs, especially effective on wet days.

With everything finished, the last step is to measure and install railings. The rest of the deck has brown aluminum picket railings so the same style will be installed on the stairs. John is very happy with his new stairs and can continue his daily exercises knowing they safe and sound.


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