What would you do with these stairs!? **HELP!**

25 Replies

What would you do with these stairs to finish them out? The pics on this post are a little old but essentially the whole interior is finished except for these stairs. The house is raised 8 feet with a small entry room on the ground level where the front door is... so these stairs are the main way to enter the living area. 

Problems:

1) The sheetrock guy sprayed texture all over the stairs because he didn't cover them. Its almost impossible to sand the stairs completely because of all the tight corners/trim

2) The handrails were dated and ugly so I took them off... I put up some cheap temporary handrails to pass final inspection, but I need handrail ideas 

3) The original stain on the stairs was a dark brown... combined with the sheetrock texture all over it.. this is a sanding nightmare

HELP!!

Originally posted by @Nicholas Fisher :

What would you do with these stairs to finish them out? The pics on this post are a little old but essentially the whole interior is finished except for these stairs. The house is raised 8 feet with a small entry room on the ground level where the front door is... so these stairs are the main way to enter the living area. 

Problems:

1) The sheetrock guy sprayed texture all over the stairs because he didn't cover them. Its almost impossible to sand the stairs completely because of all the tight corners/trim

2) The handrails were dated and ugly so I took them off... I put up some cheap temporary handrails to pass final inspection, but I need handrail ideas 

3) The original stain on the stairs was a dark brown... combined with the sheetrock texture all over it.. this is a sanding nightmare

HELP!!

First thing I would do is back charge the drywaller. Then replace the treads as they are just plain ole pine boards. There is even knots in a few of them so stain for me is out with that low quality tread.

Your handrails seem to be in code compliance. Here they have to be no more than 4 inches between them. They have a 4" ball they use to see if they are in compliance. Check your local codes though. Not sure if this is a rent house, a flip or what so not sure what to do with this as I don't know your budget. You can spend a little or a lot and get different looks. Depends on what will make you money of this particular job.

I would do a 1/2 wall instead of railings, add and paint risers, and glue down vinyl plank with bullnose edges on treads and vinyl plank on landing.
Originally posted by @Jill F. :
I would do a 1/2 wall instead of railings, add and paint risers, and glue down vinyl plank with bullnose edges on treads and  vinyl plank on landing.

Normally I would agree but those stairs look to be about 36" width on the treads. When you put a wall there you have to have a handrail which can protrude up to 4 1/2" leaving less than 32" walkway down the stairs. if 2 handrails it would be even less. Only one is needed though. 

This may be ok with the AHJ but I would check first. 

Another idea may be to build the wall but stop it at handrail height so no other handrail is needed. Put a cap on top of it as the handrail.  I don't know without field measure if that's possible or not. 

@Mike Reynolds what if you did the wall with 2x2's to save a couple inches and then did  a galvanized pipe rail mounted on top of the wall at whatever height the handrail needs to be (36"?) and then did the flooring in distressed grey-brown oak? that would look fresh. what is AHj?

I have a 1900 building with really narrow stairwells  they stink. (lol- I wish they were 3 feet)

Originally posted by @Jill F. :

@Mike Reynolds what if you did the wall with 2x2's to save a couple inches and then did  a galvanized pipe rail mounted on top of the wall at whatever height the handrail needs to be (36"?) and then did the flooring in distressed grey-brown oak? that would look fresh. what is AHj?

I have a 1900 building with really narrow stairwells  they stink. (lol- I wish they were 3 feet)

I think it would work. Just bring it up to the height of the handrail and just cap the wall for the rail. 

AHJ = Authority Having Jurisdiction. Usually meant to mean your local inspector and what he deems correct. Not always code but it is HIS code lol. 

I admit to being a terrible designer. Tell me what you want and I can make it happen (in wood, not metal). I personally love Oak myself but so many people these days seem to be on the outs with it. I think it would be awesome. 

Your old house should be grandfathered but send some pics my way and I'll check it out and see if anything can be done. There was no ADA back in the day as it was an afterthought. BUT, once you tear into it, it may be a different story with your inspector. 

The whole thing is just really ugly. If it's a flip, maybe paint the stairs and center carpet treads on each step. If it's a rental, vinyl treads for each step. I'm staying out of the handrail discussion...not going to make a huge difference to my mind. @Mike Reynolds Mike, changing out the treads for oak or capping them with retreads sounds like some serious cash and good carpentry work. I have a formerly carpeted open staircase in my primary residence that I'm going to go the oak retread path on soon. Not looking forward to it, and I'm certainly not going to sub that out here in Western PA. The chances of finding someone to do it who would do a competent job with a reasonable time period for money I could afford redefine the word "slim" in the phrase "slim to none."

@Nicholas Fisher

Nicest and easiest but expensive: new oak treads. Metal fabricator to build and install custom handrail.

Cheapest: keep sanding with that orbital and a belt sander. Build and install your own new handrail system.

Sanded these pine ones down, knots & all. The stair supports were originally pressure treated pine so we painted them white. The stair risers & wall (I installed beside the staircase), are sanded & stained $2.49/piece Cedar dog ear fence pickets from HD. Used a Behr 'looks like old pine' stain that the wife found. The bannisters are sanded/finished Driftwood as it's at our Lakehouse & a lot of it just washes up.

I would do something like the stairs Pat L showed (not log railings-while I like them, for a rental they are too specific), but paint the risers (vertical boards) white and leave the treads as wood then stain and seal them or do them all wood. If you want to leave the stairs open, ie no riser, that would also look nice. For railings, a simple vertical railing either metal or wood spindles-simple square, nothing fancy.  This will also more light to get through the staircase.

Originally posted by @Jim K. :

The whole thing is just really ugly. If it's a flip, maybe paint the stairs and center carpet treads on each step. If it's a rental, vinyl treads for each step. I'm staying out of the handrail discussion...not going to make a huge difference to my mind. @Mike Reynolds Mike, changing out the treads for oak or capping them with retreads sounds like some serious cash and good carpentry work. I have a formerly carpeted open staircase in my primary residence that I'm going to go the oak retread path on soon. Not looking forward to it, and I'm certainly not going to sub that out here in Western PA. The chances of finding someone to do it who would do a competent job with a reasonable time period for money I could afford redefine the word "slim" in the phrase "slim to none."

Yeah, was just throwing different stuff out there as he doesn't really say what the project is for. You can go cheap or expensive according to the need. 

LOL. Is that how they build in TX? Looks like the type of stairs we use (in the cheapest of homes) to go to the unfinished basement, not the front door. If they were going for the open-concept-stairs look, they seriously cheaped-out.

What would I do? Depends of course. Cheap and easy I would paint and poly them. If I had more time than money and wanted an improvement, I would sand and re-stain them a medium color (like Pats stairs), maybe also painting the stringers a complimentary color. If I needed a higher-end look, or had money to burn, I would replace them with finish-grade stairs.

You gave up on sanding pretty quick there my friend. Use 50-80 grit and change out the paper often, as soon as it stops being aggressive. I would not go higher than 80 grit or they'll be too slippery.

I was thinking the same thing.

This is one I did, we made it out of Rebar, old pine stairs, Laminate wood beams for some fun.  
Materials was about $450 and took me about 2 days



Originally posted by @Pat L. :

Sanded these pine ones down, knots & all. The stair supports were originally pressure treated pine so we painted them white. The stair risers & wall (I installed beside the staircase), are sanded & stained $2.49/piece Cedar dog ear fence pickets from HD. Used a Behr 'looks like old pine' stain that the wife found. The bannisters are sanded/finished Driftwood as it's at our Lakehouse & a lot of it just washes up.

Thats super cool and all, but the materials on that project are going to round in the thousands, That cable rail is about $250 a ft when you add in the parts and stuff, he would need one super high end flip to make that work.



Originally posted by @Ola Dantis :

@Nicholas Fisher Oh wow... You could cover the actual steps with Square Nose Stair Tread Covers and then add a cable railing system to match the open feel on the steps (see below). 

Now, just so you know, the open steps are not generally suitable for pets...  🐕

Good luck and hope it works out for you!

@Nicholas Fisher . It’s a sanding nightmare probably because you’re using the wrong tools for surface preparation. Use a handheld belt sander to remove the paint and stain. Use the orbital sander to remove any scratches or gouges from the belt sander. Use a detail sander or sandpaper wrapped around a wood block for areas the other sanders could not reach. This should be fairly easy since you have removed the rails.

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