Basement Stairs

janet12October 10, 2008

I'm in the process of having our basement stairs rebuilt. First of all, the contractor is using pressure treated wood à isn't that dangerous, especially for my cats whose litter boxes are in the basement? At first he built the first group. Then there is a landing, and then the rest of the stairs. He started the stairs flush w/ the kitchen floor. Needless to say the last step was about 3" to 4" higher that the others. I can't even reach the landing. Not to mention carrying the laundry down. I'll probably kill myself. So then he redid them. The wood is split, he used economy nails and the landing is still a stretch. I don't know what to do. My husband says leave it alone. Apparently confrontation for my cats and my safety is to no consequence to him. I have already voiced my opinion, and to do so may make me out to a female dog. What is your advice? Let it go, cut my loses or insult the contractor by voicing my concerns??????????? Sometimes I just hate being a woman...

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Stairways are a very simple math problem,(of course you need to know division and, how to read a tape measure).

The maximum height difference tred to tred is 1/8".
Don't worry about the pressure trested.

Tell your "contractor"???, to fix it, per building code.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 3:47AM
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Your hubby is wrong to ignore this as the stairs are unsafe. Just the fact that nails are being used instead of screws tells you they wont be holding up even if the proper rise and tread widths were there. Your contractor obviously isn't a stair cutter/builder and lacks experience. Like decks, done wrong, they simply are not safe. I would seek out a reputable carpenter who has many years experience with stair cutting/installs and have your contractor involved with the payment.Work somethng out but dont simply ignore this as it could be an accident waiting to happen

Here is a link that might be useful: taunton stair building books

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 12:33PM
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1. Pressure treated wood === No problem
2. Starting flush with existing floor ==== No problem and actually recommended by a lot of contractors, I usually build a landing at the top of the stairs then start the steps.
3. Nails vs Screws === No problem Nails were/are good enough for houses fifty to a hundred years old, and a lot of them are still holding up very nicely. If you prefer screws than tell the contractor and he/she should not have any problem with that.

4. DIFFERENT RISER/STEP HEIGHT == VERY LARGE PROBLEM, DO NOT LEAVE THEM THAT WAY, IT IS AN ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN. Even a difference of 1/4 to 1/2 inch is noticeable and could cause someone to stumble and fall. Fire this poor excuse for a contractor and find someone that knows what they are doing!!!!!!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 10:09PM
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I agree with Shadetree Bob right down the line, with the additional thought that PT wood, while not dangerous to you or your cats, is also unnecessary unless your basement floods regularly. Stairs of varying heights are wrong, wrong, wrong. The fact that your "contractor" has to be told -- convinced! -- of this means it's time to get rid of him.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 5:53AM
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You shouldn't need an intermediate landing if the total rise is less than 12 ft. If the door opens toward the stairway there should be a landing at that location. Most building codes limit the riser height difference in a run to 3/8".

The new lower arsenic (higher copper) pressure treated wood will not be a problem for humans or cats but there is no reason to use it for the treads or anything that is not in contact with the basement floor. Heavy duty steel hangers should be used due to increased corrosion. Why not use standard 5/4 thick pre-cut hard pine or fir treads that have a bullnose?

Be sure to install a handrail and perhaps non-slip tread covering for safety.

You shouldn't be using a carpenter who needs to be told any of this.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 10:20AM
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