Saturday, August 7, 2010

One Step Forward 23 Steps Back- Stair Building Part 4

Okay, so had time this week to get a little bit more work done on the back stairs....man did I screw up a lot......
Sit back and enjoy a pictorial tour through how not to build stairs.

Having learned when drilling the 4by4 ledger that free handing the drilling is a bad idea I set up this fancy 'jig' with the drill press to get nice straight holes. Worked out pretty well except I could only do the bottom hole on each post....had to rotate the set-up 90 deg to be able to drill both holes.....and then the drill press didn't have enough travel so I had to finish all the holes with the hand drill anyways....





I didn't take a bunch of pics of setting the stringers (only 2 cause I can't set the last one till I reside the back of the house...) I didn't think to level the 2by4 kicker or the ledger before I tried to set the stringers...I notched the ledger a bunch and it turns out I didn't need to...so, lots of shims where hurt and destroyed in this production. The Simpson angles that I used here really firmed up the stringers. I plan to use two on each to help tie them to the ledgers.

Also, see that big bolt in the left hand corner...that's one of the two bolts that hold on the posts for the guard rails...The bolts I bought where too short by 1/2" so I rummaged around and found some bolts that where 1/2" too long! So I used some extra washers and was able to get the posts up nice and tight.


Here's a shot of one of those posts...look at all those shims! It is plumb in both directions though... This also shows that that stringer was not set plumb...well...parts of it are and parts are not...it kinda twisted in the sun and heat...





After attaching the posts I REALLY didn't like how easily they twisted the stringer. I used the off cuts from the stringer as blocking between the posts to tie the one stringer into the other. When I set the final stringer I will continue the blocking on to it I think....

After doing this the posts firmed up dramatically.






Here's a shot of the guard rails installed....They are a bit more uh, visually imposing than the standard way of doing 2by2's between the guard rails. In this shot you'll see that the spacing is not even, there is slightly more space between the top guardrail and the next one...this is a design feature and not at all a f-up cause I couldn't get my little brain around how to properly divide up the 21.5" space between the top of the bottom rail and the bottom of the top rail. The rails do all line up nicely with the bottom riser though.





This shot shows the guard rails from the other side. You can also see the two stringers attached to the dropped rim joist here. The little triangle cut offs worked well and the stringers where able to sit completely in the hanger...

Not I gotta talk about another f-up. I didn't realize that the deck slopes at 1/4" per foot for drainage...that means that the level line I struck to set the stringers to varied in distance from the deck surface by an inch!! So the riser height went from the correct 7 3/8" to 8 3/8"!! That 8"+ height is two far by code... I was stumped...this HAS to happen every time a level stair intersects with a non-level deck right? You are supposed to make the stairs level across them...

I sought out the consul of some pros and they said to basically split the difference so that measured in the middle of the riser I would get the correct 7 3/8" and one side would be a little more and the other a little less but as long as I didn't exceed the code restrictions I should be okay.


This meant setting the stringers at slightly different heights than they were designed for which caused some extra shimming on the other end.


This shot is meant to show another f-up...See how the lag screws aren't in a nice-pretty line...I'm sure a pro would of thought ahead and had them all lined up nice and pretty...Also, I again bought the wrong size lag screw...the ones I got where too short by an inch...so had to buy a box more...

I do have to say that the 3/8" lag screws and the washers seem to make for a really strong attachment.






This shows the 1" spacers I had to cut outta the PT scraps from the treads. I ran a single lag screw through these and into the existing deck rail...I'm going to have to reinforce the existing deck rail here as its not really connected to the deck at the bottom.





This pic shows multiple screw-ups...First, I cut the 2by6 guard rails cause I thought they were going to have to change direction at that vertical 2by4...nope they don't...the deck having that weird little nook is causing me some issues...
But, the two long rails that are lagged to the existing deck guard rail there feel really firm.
Second, if you extend out the top guard rail and have it intersect with the last post in the same way it does the other two...you learn that that post is several inches too short!!! hurray!
I was planning on the top guard rail being the hand rail also and its set at a comfortable 37" above the treads. Which BTW, was a measurement I KEPT screwing up as you have to make sure you're measuring it at the correct point... With the setup I have here the guard-handrail will be 37" until it crosses the last riser, which is the deck....past that its going to go above 37" until it lands on the post....I don't know if this is okay or if I'm going to have to cut the guard rails even with the last riser and make them go horizontal until they end on the post....If I do that I won't have to buy another post but it will be a much bigger PITA to finish the guard rails....
Annnd finally, I don't now think that PT is a wise idea for the hand rail...After I route an officially graspable handrail out of it its still going to be splintery, and poisonous......So, I'm probably going to replace it with a redwood rail that will be much easier on the hands...

Here's a pic that shows how short that last post is if I don't make the rails turn horizontal. This also shows why I couldn't move this last post any closer to the last riser. Its all wood in the way. I could of put the post where the original one was, on the inside of the stringers but that would of cut down on the width of my stairs significantly...to where it would of been very hard to get the required 36" minimum clear tread length.
This also brings up another question...these framing members here are only 6" deep...I don't know if that's deep enough to support this post correctly...I do happen to have several 9" long 1/2" lag screws (why I own these I don't know) that would be long enough to go through the post, both 2by6's and into the 6by6 but I don't know if that's going to be enough... I think that I'll have to figure out an additional bolting-strengthening strategy...
Oh yea, the bottom of this also shows that I used the Simpson screws that where too long for the hanger...

Well that's it for now...anybody want to hire me to build them some stairs??? I'm slow, but sloppy and expensive!

This project is basically on hold until I can figure out the final post issue and then go buy supplies...but even then, that's all I can do until we reside the house...then I set the last stringer and screw in the treads and I'm done!!!

Oh wait, I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do about the risers...they have to pass the 4"sphere rule...

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