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door at top of basement stairs????

Posted by OntarioMom (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 8, 13 at 16:03

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.

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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.

Photobucket

Looking forward to how others solved their basement stair issue.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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!


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Just another option.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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!


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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!


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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

Carol


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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!


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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.


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RE: door at top of basement stairs????

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


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