door at top of basement stairs????

ontariomomFebruary 8, 2013

Hi everyone,

We had planned for a door leading to our basement stairs as per plan below. However, the framing in that area is not yet complete so we can could easily omit the basement door/landing area. Our original plan had been to reduce the noise transfer between teenage rec room area and family great room above. However, we are second guessing the need for this door as we see the enclosed area for the door would block some light from spilling downstairs. We also want a frosted interior window in the small bath shown, and the light from the south side near stair case is the brightest. The windows shown in the great room are south windows.

Soooo, what are you plans for the top of your basement stairs? Are you leaving them open, are you placing a swing out door at the top of the stairs, are you building a door at the bottom of the basement stairs, or are you building a landing so the door to stairs can swing in. If so do you like it, and what was your reason for putting in a door to the basement?

Here is our floor plan that shows the staircase with a door that swings in to a landing. Please ignore the shading. Also, lots has changed about our space like the kitchen and front of house but that is not relevant to the basement door question.

Here is the rec room plan we are working with to give you idea of the what you see at the bottom of the basement stairs. The windows mostly have egress window wells, but are high up on basement wall.

Looking forward to how others solved their basement stair issue.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sanveann

We're planning on putting a door to the basement because our youngest will only be 2 or 3 when we build. Later on, we'll probably remove it so that the basement has a more open feel -- we're hoping to have a game room, etc, down there later, and I don't want it to feel too isolated from the rest of the house. Your point about reducing the noise from teenagers is a good one, though!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
worthy

When we've had the door opening out, there have been more than a few collisions. What worked best were open stairs with rails around at the top, then a foyer at the bottom with doors opening into the various rooms.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 7:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ontariomom

Thanks worthy and sanveann for your comments. Good point about the door being safer with young children. My youngest is 7, but she has lots of younger cousins so we will need a gate if we keep the basement open. Sanveann, will you have the basement door swing out, or build an enclosed landing area to the basement steps.

Worthy, do you think from our floor plan we will have collisions if we have the door open out (and remove the enclosed top of stairs landing area)? Can you clarify what you mean by rails around at the top?

In general I think it is nice to have glass in the basement door to let more light pass through and also give you a visual to let you know if someone is coming up the stairs or not.

Thanks,

Carol

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
autumn.4

Carol - we have a door at the bottom of our stairs that is glass. The family room is down there and we thought we'd like it for noise control but we rarely use it. Our kids are 7 and 10 right now (could they possibly be any LOUDER as teenagers? verdict is out on that one). We are looking to build in 2014 and doubt we'll do a door at all and stick with a more open feel.

I don't think there is a right or wrong here - just have to go with what you like and what you think will work best for your household. I think either way would LOOK fine, it's more a matter of how it lives.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ontariomom

Autumn, I like the idea of a door at the bottom and keeping the top of stairs door free (and inviting for people to come down stairs). However, I am not sure how to make that work with our basement set-up. Maybe the noise won't be that bad if we avoid all doors top and bottom. Autumn can you see an easy way to add a door to the bottom of our stairs (with glass like you have)?

Carol

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
renovator8

I cant see how removing the door provides more light or openness unless you intend to remove the enclosing wall and replace it with an open guard railing.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
worthy

clarify what you mean by rails around at the top?

See pic below. This is the common continuation of a circular staircase to the basement below. But you can use it with any kind of staircase.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
zone4newby

We're putting a door at the bottom of the stairs. One of my kids wants to start a band, so it seemed important.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
worthy

You can choose not to enclose the staircase; instead put a rail and balustrades along the side facing your "great room" and to reduce noise, retain the enclosed area at the bottom of the stairs.

Below is the way it looks in a house I built a few years ago.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ontariomom

Thanks for the comments.

Renovator and Worthy, I like the idea of removing the enclosing wall to bring in more light. However, would that wall not be needed to support the bedroom level staircase that is directly above the basement stairs? Worthy, your pictures show that it can be done though. I also wondered about putting glass block instead of a wall or railing (wall between great room and basement stair case). I do know that glass block is not done that much anymore. However, like the railing idea you guys suggested it would bring in light to the stair well - would it support the upper stairs more?

Zone4newby, LOL about the band. My older boys are into Rock Band with the associated drums and noise too.

I am not sure where best to place a door at the bottom of the stairs for noise control if I open up the staircase to light. Any suggestions here?

Thanks,

Carol

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
renovator8

Removing a support wall means adding a large beam which is easy to do if it can be hidden in the ceiling but more costly. Open plans simply cost more.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
worthy

would that wall not be needed to support the bedroom level staircase that is directly above the basement stairs?

No. A staircase doesn't need any wall for support. Only a top and bottom. (Penrose stairs don't count.)

However, if you're going to put in glass block, you may have to provide extra structural support at that point. Not a problem if this is all done before you build, not as a change order half-way through.

Crossed posts! R8 is assuming the wall studs in the removed wall alongside the staircase are structural. I was strictly answering the question re the staircase.

This post was edited by worthy on Sat, Feb 9, 13 at 13:13

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ontariomom

Renovator, the two by fours that are currently framed under our bedroom staircase are not part of a load bearing wall, but I was under the impression by one framer that these two by fours would prevent the stairs from squeaking. Thanks for your help!

Carol

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ILoveRed

When we built this house we wanted the basement to feel like another "story". No door and open stairway. Occasionally, I have to yell down at my boys to turn down the TV but most of the time the noise is contained.

Pretty stairway (IMO) at the top too.

Just another option.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ontariomom

That is a nice basement red_lover! What does the basement stairway look like at the top? Is there a railing instead of a wall along side of stairs at top? Do you get any light from the upstairs? Glad to know the noise was not a big deal.

Carol

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ontariomom

Hi Worthy,

Thanks for the reassurance that we could remove the wall under the stairs and replace with railing and not compromise the structural support. No change order fees for us as we are hiring our own subs and it is not too late to make this change (yes the labour/lumber costs associated with the six 2 by 4s that we had installed would be wasted). I wondered if we would be wise to put one post for extra upper stair support like the image below? Thanks for your help!

Here is a link that might be useful: staircase support post

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
autumn.4

OntarioMom-I would MUCH prefer Redlovers set up over having a door. Our stairwell is completely closed in and it's a straight run stair - there is a window directly in front of the landing which is why we put the glass door in to capture that light but otherwise the stairwell is dark (we did put in stair level lighting at that helps). Our goal is to have the next basement feel like it's another story as redlover described of hers.

Our current basement does not have daylight windows either - instead they are the small windows that we actually put glass block in with vents. So despite it being our family room down there with our only TV, in the summer not much time is spent there as it does have a cave type feeling. We do spend more time there in the winter though since it's already dark by 4 p.m. and there is a fireplace there also and that helps.

The bonus to all of that is TV is secondary in our house and often times the kids forget all about it. Not uncommon for us to go days with no TV and that overall is a good thing for us. We moved the TV down there about 5 years ago and I don't regret it a bit! :) Sorry for that off topic rant there.

I am anxious to see what you come up with. Some of those stairwells posted are gorgeous!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 2:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ontariomom

Hi Autumn and thanks for your opinion! Yes I like what Red_lover did as well. DH is still bent on having the door to block off the sound, but I am working on him because he likes natural light too. However, it looks like I won't be able to completely do without a wall as I see we have an HVAC rough in for a return air that was supposed to come down the proposed wall for the top of stairs landing/doorway. I'm not sure if we can do a post for this return. I will have to call the HVAC guys before dreaming of a more open stair way. I can still change the wall under the stairs to railing or supported glass block to invite more light into the stair way via the south windows. So many decisions (and some already made for us).

Carol

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Annie Deighnaugh

We planned on finishing the lower level from the beginning so we put a staircase in the foyer that is open ...so you see the light from downstairs when you look down, and you see the light from upstairs when you look up, so it is very much integrated space with the rest of the house.

Of course we don't have children so that's not an issue for us...and we have had to put up a gate to keep the cat from making on the rug! That Darn Cat!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ontariomom

Nice staircase, Annie! Any trouble with noise from basement or room above crossing levels?

Carol

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Annie Deighnaugh

We haven't noticed a noise problem...DH can be watching TV upstairs and I'm listening to music downstairs while I'm exercising and it's not a problem. But then it's just the 2 of us....I think what's more noisy is the sound of footsteps when someone's walking above.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gingerjenny

i've been thinking about this too. I like the look of more open concept. however, I am hoping to someday have a lot of grandchildren and want it to be safe. I hate the look of baby gates

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 1:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
matt_in_ks

Annie- when I saw the clubs above the stool at the top of your stairs I chuckled at the thought of having young children in your home. I have two boys under three but I don't think the stairs would be the first thing they found!

I like your spindles, I have heen thinking about very similar ones for our build. Thanks for sharing the pics!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 2:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Annie Deighnaugh

Those aren't clubs...they are antique walking sticks....

Re gates and stairs, considering how much time you spend in the house vs. how long grandbabies are around and the brief time for which stairs present a danger, it might be better to put up with a gate during their visits. Unfortunately, though our cat is old, chances are we'll need the barrier for several more years, and of course he's a full-time resident.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ontariomom

gingerjenny, we have a wood gate that does not look too ugly (it could have been stained the colour of our railing although we never bothered). I'm with Annie, I would not let the look of a gate for brief periods decide whether I would go with a door or not.

Carol

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
david_cary

We put a door on and went back and forth. The advantages of the door were too significant to take it away - we did do a glass door as a compromise.

The door is a noise issue, a safety issue for the toddler and a energy issue since the basement can be unconditioned at night. It heats up pretty well by itself with large east windows in the morning.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 7:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Annie Deighnaugh

Of course heat isn't a problem as hot air rises, but not having a basement door can be an issue during a/c season as cold air sinks.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 7:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ILoveRed

My grandson is 4 mo old and I will need to deal with the baby gate issue very soon.

The top of my stairway looks like Annie's with a wall on one side and railing on the other. If anyone has a really good baby gate they can recommend, that would be awesome.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 12:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
autumn.4

red_lover - ours looked like that at the top and when my boys were young my hubby had to make a contraption to avoid drilling into the banister and then we drilled the swing part into the drywall on the railing side. I wish I had a picture but I don't.

We weren't comfortable with a compression fit for DOWNstairs - think it would be okay for going UP.

That said I think it depends on how frequent your little one will be over. My sister's kids are younger than mine (lives far so not frequent visits) and for her visits we never had a problem just keeping an eye out. They weren't really too interested in the stairs with all of the activity of the older kids going on.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 7:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
autumn.4

Wow how fast things change! Here is a gate made to fit a banister - didn't have those 10 years ago, lol! So my hubby made something similar to what this gate already has built in (and this one looks a bit nicer). ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: Banister Baby Gate

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 7:15PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Smaller 2nd story possible in two story home?
My husband and I are in the beginning stages of figuring...
Lauren McLellan
Revised Floor Plan - Please Critique
We're building our first house this Spring and are...
zeugirdorxela
It's March 2015: How is your build progressing?
Zorro-anyone can start one. :) Link to It's February...
autumn.4
Over thinking or detailed
We have not even poured the slab yet, and I find myself...
ourgeorgiahouse
Have a personal build blog? Link it here!
I have LOVED looking through all the blogs that have...
sweet.reverie
Sponsored Products
Uttermost Ikona Mirror
Beyond Stores
Doughnut Single Arm Wall Sconce by Robert Abbey
$128.70 | Lumens
Progress Lighting Path & Landscape Lights 1-Light Black Step Light P6803-31
$97.65 | Home Depot
3'x9' Runner Sky Blue Super Kazakh 100% Wool Hand Knotted Oriental Rug Sh18384
1800 Get A Rug
Meraviglia Incasso Recessed Wall Mount
Lightology
Colonial Mills Madison Braided Rug - Holly Berry Multicolor - MD74R024X036
$22.98 | Hayneedle
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™