How to Build Stairs

Submitted by Ana White on Mon, 10/17/2011 - 10:27

We are getting to the good part.

With snow threatening to stick, and noticeably less light each day, winter is fast approaching up at the Momplex. We have been blessed with a beautiful fall (THANK YOU for your thoughts and prayers for good weather!), and are still optimistic about getting a roof on the Momplex and being able to work inside over the winter.

I am so desperate to work inside the Momplex because these are the projects that I love. I already have the kitchen cabinets made in my head, and let me tell you this, the days of paying as much as a car for kitchen cabinets are OVER. I can't wait to show you how I build cabinets! I've got built-in entertainment systems, walk in closets, bathroom vanities with tile tops all made in my head, and I cannot wait to be able to take these designs and build them!

This is what keeps me going when the wind is blowing and two layers of down isn't enough. I am determined to be working on the inside of the Momplex this winter, and cannot wait for the Mom's to move in and enjoy our hard work for the rest of their lives.

Today, I got a little teaser for inside projects - we got to build stairs!

Step 1

We really made this process easy on ourselves when we choose to frame walls on either side of the stairs.  
There has also been quite a bit of planning before hand to get the door at the right height relative to the basement floor and upstairs floor.  In other words, so all the stairs are the same.  Let me explain ...
Step 2 Diagram
Step 2 Instructions

Designing Stairs

What you need is the height of your finished floors. Think of the landing as simply another stair. Take a measurement or calculation of the overall height of the bottom finished floor to the top finished floor. We will call this the OVERALL RISE.
Take your overall rise and divide it by 7.  Drop any decimals, the whole number is the number of rises you need.  In my example, I need 16 rises.  Once you know how many rises you need, you can figure the exact size of each individual rise.
Figure the exact rise of each stair by taking the overall rise and dividing it by the number of rises.  You will get a number of 7.XXX, meaning the 7 is followed by decimals.  TIP: take the decimal and multiply it by 16 to convert the decimal to fraction.  Our rise ended up being 7 3/8.
Step 3 Diagram
Step 3 Instructions

Standard stair treads are 11 1/2" to work on 11" cutouts for your stairs. Knowing this and the rise of each stair, we can draw out our stairs, and figure the height of the landing, how much headroom we will need, and even the opening size needed. Isn't this so cool???

Step 4 Diagram
Step 4 Instructions

To build our stairs, the first thing we did was build the landing. We kept the joist on the landing at 16" centers to match the 16" centers on the walls surrounding the stairs.<div><br></div><div>If the boards in this post look familiar, it's because they are reused from first the footer forms ...

</div><div><br></div><div><img src="…; alt="" align="none"></div><div><br></div><div>And then the scaffolding planks ...</div><div><br></div><div><img src="; alt="" align="none"></div><div><br></div><div>I promise, this is the final use for these 2x12 boards!</div>

Step 5 Diagram
Step 5 Instructions

Perfect fit! We attached the landing at the correct height (remember, the figuring is for finished floor height, so we have to move the framing for the landing down to account for the subfloor and flooring). Bolts hold the landing into the ARXX block walls, and the ends are toenailed into the joists from both sides. This landing isn't budging.

Step 6 Diagram
Step 6 Instructions

With the landing in place, we put layed the subfloor on top. Now it's time to build the actual stair stringers!

Step 7 Diagram
Step 7 Instructions

With a special square, called a rafter square (you can also use this guy for roof framing), special bolts and attached to the square to create a cutout pattern as shown above.

Step 8 Diagram
Step 8 Instructions

Then we just start marking stair cutouts! You have to be very very careful here, making sure each stair cutout matches the previous.

Depending on how you are starting and stopping each stair, you may choose a different method of cutting the ends of each stair. Also, we trimmed the bottom rise by 1" to account for 1" thick stair treads.

Step 9 Diagram
Step 9 Instructions

Once the stair stringer pattern is drawn on the stairs, we use a circular saw to cut out each stair.

Step 10 Diagram
Step 10 Instructions

Then the cuts are finished with a straight saw blade. This tools worked pretty good.

Step 11 Diagram
Step 11

But I found myself reaching for the handsaw. It worked better. Bonus - cheap therapy and a workout all in one!

Step 12 Diagram
Step 12

Sometimes the cutouts would break off, and these little triangle pieces would have to be cut off. We have a total of 12 stringers to cut, so this was a long day. You can see the light is fading.

Step 13 Diagram
Step 13

My FIL, Tim, and I worked on the stairs together. He suggested notching out the bottoms so we have something solid to anchor the stairs to the concrete with. Great idea!

There are three stringers per flight of stairs, one in the middle that you can't see in this photo.

Step 14 Diagram
Step 14

It was dark when we finally got the stairs put in and Uncle Bill helped screw the treads down. Time to call it a night! I couldn't sleep that night, excited to wake up and work on the remaining stairs.

Step 15 Diagram
Step 15

Still there in the morning!

And by the afternoon, Mom's spilt-level entry ins constructed!
These stairs are semi-permanent.  We decided NOT to finish the stairs out by adding additional uncut 2x12s to the outsides of the stringers  because we will be taking the stairs down, drywalling the walls on the insides and outsides, and then adding the 2x12 rim boards, replacing the stairs, removing the treads, and adding hardwood bullnose treads.  The reason for the additional steps is we do not want to ruin finished stairs during construction phase.  So we will revisit the stairs!
And a few more photos so you can see how we started and ended the stairs.  We will be framing up under the stairs for storage.  There's alot of storage to be claimed under there!
Gotta get back to it! 
Thanks for reading and keeping us encouraged!