Rebuilding stairs from garden to parlor


    In the next year, we want to replace the stairs leading from the garden to the parlor floor in our new place. We don’t know if the current, old, crooked, uneven stairs (frame house) can be overhauled or if the whole thing should be ripped out. Any advice? Recommendations? Ideas about reasonable budget and timeline? Thank you very much.

    3 Replies

    1. When the sheetrock was off, did you look at the out board point where the stringer was fastened on the diagonal to large joist?

      Sometimes we can tell from the outside. Why was the old sheetrock buckled? Was that condition repaired?

    2. Thanks, Bruce.
      Can a professional make a judgement on the stairs before I have the underneath removed or do we have to demo that first? Sadly, it was just replaced as the former sheetrock was buckled.

    3. Try to determine the condition of the stringers.

      They are often, in older homes, poorly fastened to the floor joists. Popping open the ceiling right below sometimes will be enough.

      If the stringers are salvageable, then the stair can be rebuilt. Let’s say the stringer has fallen where attached to joist, but it can be re-atached firmly.

      The joist to which the stringer is attached may have settled over time and maynot be level anymore. So you will have a strong stringer now, but it is too low.

      Depending on the condition of the treads, they can be pried loose and shimmed up at the stringer with poplar strips, glued and screwed to top of stringers. We often fabricate new treads if the old ones are too worn.

      Raising the treads more level now creates a gap over the risers, which also get replaced.

      Reinforced with new wedges and plywood braces, the rebuilt stair will be 100% better.

      Nothing I describe is rocket science, just patience, some care, and precision in carpentry.

      I would estimate that depending on the circumstance, that in a day or two, assuming you demo the underneath of plaster/drywall, that you could get back 80% of the strength, and 40% of the looks, all for spending less than $200.00. If this stairwell isn’t used that much, that may get you all you need. You supply the labor.

      If we rebuilt the stringers (that were saveable), we fabricated new poplar treads and risers, re-mounted the existing ballusters, and reassembled the stair, it would take a week, cost 4K, and you would get 100% of strength, and 90% of looks. (You’d have to prime and paint)

      bruce at