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broke 04-10-2006 02:47 PM

Replacing Stairs
I have a flight of 13 stairs in my townhouse. The first 5 have an unattractive rail/wall. I want to get away from the apartment look. I'd love to pull them out and replace them with a nice treaded and ballustraded flight.

My question is, is this extremely costly? I live in suburban Philadelphia, PA. I've looked for the cost of materials online but haven't found info on pre-made stairs which I saw go in around here (wall look). I'm wondering how long this takes as in the labor which is usually the catch.

Other question is, someone said the stairs here are shot and they were replaced in some rehabed units. What does this mean? Can stairs actually wear out??? Seems you see 100 year old stairs creaking away in historic type places.

Mine creak. Isn't that simply loose boards? Stringers don't go do they?

Thanks for any input. Just trying to get a feel for things. It would make a big difference around here.

Square Eye 04-10-2006 03:44 PM

Stringers that are built out of light materials certainly do crack from stress over time. 100 year old stair cases in historical buildings are usually built very well, or they are not open to the public. Old staircases creak and pop as the parts move under the load of use. When you look at a stringer, measure the stringer at the deepest part of the cut. This is the effective dimension of the lumber. The more material you have there, the better. This is the back bone of your stairs. I prefer mortised side stringers. They are MUCH stronger.

A cracked stringer is like a cracked ladder. There's no if it fails, it's when it fails. The same can be said of risers that support the treads. (no center stringer) When the nails driven from the back into the treads fail, the treads get flimsy. It's pretty difficult to repair stairs like this especially when it runs between walls.

I did some repairs on a set a while back, removed a wall beside them and set a load bearing beam across the opening. The rail ran up into the beam and the ballusters continued. It made the living room seem much larger and more interesting. The stairs became a part of the room where it had been enclosed in the hallway. It was a big job compared to what the home owner thought it would be. I was 3 days with help and 3 more days alone including shop time and drywall work. I made the ballusters and the rail.

Cost? In your area, I couldn't even guess.

Parts pricing varies area to area. Treads are $20 to $30 here and ballusters are $5 to $12, depending on paint or stain grade and the style of turning and material. Railing is always expensive. Newell posts are available in many different styles.

If this will add to the value of the home, it's worth considering. If not, forget it. The house I did this in, had a big old picture window in front. You could see the staircase as you drove by. When they listed it for sale, it sold within a month in a small town.

inspectorD 04-10-2006 09:58 PM

Stairs...............Up...............down........ ........up..............down.......
Square Eye is always right on.
I always get to follow up....(He types faster)
Something like stairs is tough to understand until you have screwed up a couple sets.......hmmmm
My suggestion is to buy or get from the library a book to help guide you.....then ask us for the stuff you dont get.
Doing a set of stairs can really help your home ...if it's done correctly.As with any project, anyone can tackle the problem but some background before hand really helps out the finished product.

I really need to post my last job... then you will see what I mean.

inspectorD 04-10-2006 10:26 PM

I Did It !!!
I posted some curved stairs of my last job in the gallery.
I installed these stairs, with my crew of course. These were two matching curved staircases with a set going to the basement underneath the right side stairs. This meant we had to figure out the second floor curved landing and the main stairs before we could frame for the basement stairs to allow the main stairs to fall on the first floor.....whew...
To much configuring ...but they came out incredible.
I had my doubts ,but we figured them out.

Railings and all....
Self Praise is no recommendation.......

InspectorD ....toot....tooot....:D

Square Eye 04-10-2006 11:00 PM


Very nice work Brian!

You should do that for a living!

Pat yourself on the back for me, but in a platonic way, of course. Strictly patting, no rubbing.:p

That is nice. More, more!

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