Stairway riser height problem - AVS Forum
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Old 04-15-2010, 12:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi All,

I encountered a planning problem today with regards to putting in a subfloor in the basement. The plan is to use delta-fl+osb+wood floor.

The problem is that the builder made the staircase such that the riser heights are all be the same when the bottom of the stairs is just bare concrete. I would assume that this is the case for quite a few people who are converting their basements.

According to the building codes, the smallest height has to be less than 3/8ths shorter than the largest height. Using anything but linoleum or carpet straight on the slab will cause the first riser to violate this code.

Are there any solutions to this other than ripping out the staircase (or at least quite a few steps) and rebuilding it??
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Old 04-15-2010, 06:35 AM
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How about progressively smaller stair caps. So lets say you need an inch on the first step then put 7/8 on the next, then 3/4, etc until you are back to the regular stair. If you carpet the stairway it won't be noticeable. (not sure if it is code worthy you would need to check)

Depending on the stair construction you might be able to bang out the treads and risers, then add shims to the stringers and replace the treads and risers after progressively modifying the height of the risers.

Got a picture of the patient?
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Old 04-15-2010, 06:35 AM
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How are the treads attached to the stringers? Could you easlly remove some of the treads and make shims to bring several of the treads up so you meet code? Another thing you could do is make a landing midway down and readjust stringers from that point.
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Old 04-15-2010, 07:12 AM
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I had a similar situation. I was considering putting in all new wood risers & treads of a similar height to the dricore subfloor and finished floor at the bottom of the stairs, as then it would stay consistent throughout the stairway. Of course, there is a larger price tag that comes with that, too. Much more than I felt justified for a basement stairway.

In the end it looks like I'll avoid that because we opted to change the basement flooring plan, including the bottom of the stairs where we'll have no subfloor and just tile for a foyer sort of look. This will also be a work-around to a very uneven floor area right there - a previous owner obviously got very unorthodox with his use of studs sunk into the concrete floor, which now leaves me with a screwed up patch.

As a result we won't be adding much depth to the floor by the stairs, so we won't need to bother with all the height adjustments on the stairs. Saves me time, money and headaches. It wasn't my original plan, but I'm learning that sometimes the best solution is to back up and take a slightly different road than originally planned.

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Old 04-15-2010, 03:01 PM
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I have a similar situation. I guess I was just planning to ignore code and put the subfloor of the adjoining playroom right up to the bottom of the stairs. If I did that, I would lose 1 inch for the subfloor and underlayment, plus another 1/4 inch or so for the Pergo, for a total of around 1-1/4" lost for the transition between the last step and the bottom floor.

Another option I was considering was to simply carpet the staircase and continue the carpeting down to the basement floor, then make a custom beveled wooden board to make the small step-up transition to the adjoining playroom's 1-1/4" Pergo-topped floor. I have a bare threshold (no door) between the bottom of the staircase and the playroom anyways, so the floor transition would blend with the threshold anyways.

Maybe something like that would suit your situation? Or just ignore code like I originally planned on doing

--Drew


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http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1243820

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Old 04-15-2010, 03:16 PM
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I had the same thought about just running the floor (dricore + laminate) up to the first step and being done with it, but the guy I'm using for final trim work and whatnot convinced me people would likely stumble just a bit as they took that bottom step if it was suddenly close to 2" shorter than all the rest of the steps they had just taken to get down there. Maybe they wouldn't fall or anything, but it would be that odd deal where you turn around and take a second look at it to see why it didn't feel right.

So either adjust what I run into that bottom stair, or be prepared to adjust all the steps going up similarly. I chose to just adjust the floor leading to the bottom step - quicker, cheaper, & easier than the alternatives.

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Old 04-15-2010, 03:17 PM
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Do what I am doing and ignore it... I don't think they will really check that,

Or build the bottom step into a platform, then there will be a landing before the final shorter step down.

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Old 04-15-2010, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hanesian View Post

I had the same thought about just running the floor (dricore + laminate) up to the first step and being done with it, but the guy I'm using for final trim work and whatnot convinced me people would likely stumble just a bit as they took that bottom step if it was suddenly close to 2" shorter than all the rest of the steps they had just taken to get down there. Maybe they wouldn't fall or anything, but it would be that odd deal where you turn around and take a second look at it to see why it didn't feel right.


Very true. I've walked up and down several staircases where the top or bottom step was slightly off and I did stumble. Just about every single time. I never fell, but older people might have a harder time.



One thing the OP might try (and I will do this as well) is to just throw down a sample of what the flooring height is going to be and test it out. Walk up and down it a few times. Get other people to do the same. See if anyone notices or complains. If everything feels right and nobody really notices at all, then just go for it. If people stumble and you don't like it, then try something different.

But otherwise, extending the carpeting down the last step and onto the concrete isn't the end of the world. It just requires another transition from there to the subfloor+covering. More work, sure, but that might be the easiest way around everything.

My friend built a landing right at the level of the bottom step, then there was a step down on both sides of the staircase into the adjoining rooms. I don't like that, since I already have a doorway on one side and it wouldn't work having a step down directly in the threshold. So that option is a no-go for me, but maybe that's an option the OP could go with as well.

--Drew


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http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1243820

Started: 2/20/10
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Old 04-24-2010, 08:41 PM
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Just to give a little update on this thread, I threw together a few 2x4s in front of the bottom step to simulate the subfloor and laminate (actual floor is 1-1/4" high). I could definitely notice the step down on the last step was shorter, but it didn't really bother me all that much. Same with going up the stairs, the first step seemed a bit abrupt, but nothing too bad.

All the same, I think it might be better to just carpet down the entire stairs into the landing at the bottom and just add a beveled wood transition piece on either side of the landing. Looks just about as good as having the floor go all the way to the stairs, but doesn't cause the abrupt step on the bottom stair.

--Drew


My basement theater build thread:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1243820

Started: 2/20/10
Completed: 10/10/10
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