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jthrash11 02-04-2012 12:10 PM

Narrow Stairs
I have a question about the carpeted stairs that go to my basement. The stairs are narrow in terms of run at 8" deep and the rise is 7". There are 15 steps total that go straight to the carpeted basement floor. They feel short and choppy when walking on them and there isn't enough room for our feet with just an 8" run. The underside of the steps are in an unfinished part of the basement. There is room at the bottom of the steps for a landing if the steps need to be remade and they go longer.

We are going to get hardwood floors in the upstairs (carpet now) and new carpet in the basement this spring. We can't proceed with the new flooring until the steps are fixed as they feel dangerous.

I want to know if I need to have a contractor replace the stairs, or if it is possible to add a nose to the steps to increase the run depth. Also, the wood that makes up the rise and run for the steps is 2" thick. Could a thinner board be used instead to gain some rise and run space?
We haven't decided whether to carpet the steps or go with wood - I am not sure if either would make a difference in terms of fixing our problem. For example, if we wrap the steps in hardwood - could we extend the run and add a nose to make it longer?

Any advice would be appreciated.

Dionysia 02-04-2012 06:11 PM

If you make a tread deeper, it will just stick out over the tread below it. We had similar basement stairs (steep and shallow) and just pulled them out and put deeper, less steep ones in. We don't have room for a landing at the top or bottom now, but it is worth it to have stairs I am not scared for the kids to use.

My personal preference for safety reasons is not to have carpeted stairs. They just seem too slippery for me, and when the carpet gets worn at the nose it is too easy to slide off if you step wrong.

JoeD 02-05-2012 07:02 AM

Think about it. If you make the first step 1 inch longer. The step below is now 1 inch shorter. You need to add 2 inches on the second step. By the time you get to the bottom you need 15 inches.

If you are thinking about just adding one inch to the front of each step and let your toe go underneath, that won't do anything for you. The steep angle will still be the same.

jthrash11 02-05-2012 10:37 AM

Thanks for the feedback. I'll call a couple of contractors to get a bid on what it would take to rebuild the stairs correctly. Any ideas of how much its gonna cost me?


nealtw 02-05-2012 09:10 PM

Keep in mind the head room. Mostly stairs were built short because that's all the room they had. If you make the treads 10" you will be adding 30" to the length and 14 or 21' in height where the bottom stair is now and you need 80 inches above that for headroom.

BridgeMan 02-05-2012 10:58 PM

If you're concerned about cost, there's a solution. Get several quotes from at least 3 contractors, picking the brains of all of them. Then incorporate a master plan using the best ideas from all 3, and build your own stairs. Any headroom issues at a landing are usually not impossible to successfully deal with. Your total cost will be for materials only, and the reward of doing it yourself will last a lifetime.

nealtw 02-06-2012 03:00 PM

I'm not sure how you would solve the head room thing without re-designing the upstairs of the house. It all depends on the length of the hole cut out of the floor upstairs.

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