Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Stairway to Heaven, Not Quite



Keith demonstrates stringer stability
This post is for my most astute follower Kris (be sure to check out her blog RIGHT HERE ) who noted I skipped a step in our Grain Bin House construction sequence...the building of the stairs. She was right of course, I should not have skipped over the very thing that will eventually elevate us to the second floor, so here goes:

We waffled for some time about how to access the upstairs of our new build looking at spiral staircases, steps that just followed the curve of the internal walls, a rope ladder,  an escalator, or a staircase that sat smack in the middle of the first floor.

We went for the  smack in the middle of the floor design. I hear you, what kind of sense does THAT make? Well, the spiral staircase would take up less floor space but would make moving items like mattresses and beds a bit tricky. The staircase that curved along the inside of a downstairs wall would work but would take a lot of time to build with all the different sized steps. The image of my rotund self swinging wildly on the rope ladder was too painful to seriously consider and the escalator, priced at $20,000 was bit over budget so this left us with the monster in the middle.

Building it took several pages of graph paper, multiple visits to the internet and lots of calculator time plus numerous trips to the decrepit house to measure its horrible staircase: too steep, too narrow, too ugly. Knowing what we did not want made it easier to plan what we did want.  Keith started with two 2 x 12 pieces of wood which he cut into the matching "stringers."

No, I do not know why they call them that. They should be called "saw-tooth supports" in my opinion. Stringers sounds like something bad coming out of a nasal cavity. stringer was attached to the bathroom wall frame which allowed Keith to climb up to the stair landing level and build the actual landing frame. This then gave him something to which he could attach the second stringer.

Then he cut the steps and screwed them in place. A large post was notched into the bottom steps for even more stability for the stairs as well as the big beam above. Later we will put in the risers to each step. The landing at the top will split to the right and the left. To the left will be a few steps leading into our small library area which will lead into our bedroom and to the right will be a few wider steps (because the curve of the wall there allows more width) leading into a small office.

Underneath the stairs though, the real space conservation magic will occur. Under the short part of the staircase will sit a Lowboy water heater, all of 30 inches tall. To the right of that will be our water softener. To the far right will sit our washing machine. Since I usually only wash clothes once a week, a far cry from the two loads a day I did when all four kids lived at home and I had fancy, aka unstained, corporate work clothes; having the washing machine tucked away and maybe slightly inconvenient in location will be no problem. There will also be room above the washer for a couple shelves.

At least that is the fantasy I choose to keep lodged in my pea brain.


  1. Yep, it IS a rocket - you had to build a 'landing frame'. *snicker* It's very interesting to see how you guys figure out this stuff, real seat-of-the-pants/spacesuit thinking. Excellent use plan for the space underneath. The whole project is a future book, I'm sure! Way more interesting to watch/read than a by-the-book "This Old House" rebuilt. Thanks for the update! Meanwhile, I'm watching.... ;-D

  2. Yes, Kris is a sharp one! OTOH, it made me scroll down to see what I missed! Brilliant use of space under the stairs. Your house is going to be a treasure.

  3. One of my favorite shows is Tiny House Nation and the storage solutions they use in such a small space. Does Keith watch this? I'm sure he would enjoy it but also get some great ideas.


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