04 May 2015

Front steps, again

Tom and I got the second half of the top tread off on our own, but we needed help for the next three. Fortunately we have a very strong (and very generous) friend who donated a couple of hours on Saturday to help us get them moved. I plugged the stair dimensions into a calculator online, and it came up with an estimate of about 650 pounds per tread! Luckily, they didn't move very far, just 9' over to outline the edge of the sidewalk. We got them onto a couple of furniture dollies, then simply rolled them to where they needed to go. Once they were roughly in position, we tipped them off the dollies and used a demolition bar as a lever to get them in place exactly.

I'll backfill the area a bit and eventually get some flowers and shrubs in there. Here's what the front of the house looks like without steps:

I dug another trench and laid another row of concrete block close to the wall. The house stayed stairless overnight, but by Sunday evening we had finished the framework for the new steps.

I had already cut all the components and marked their locations, so assembly didn't take very long. A few non-standard construction details: first, I installed 2x4s along the bottom edge of the stringers. I made the treads much deeper than standard treads, which cut deeply into the 2x12 material. The 2x4s simply add additional strength and reduce the stress put on the bottom edge of the board.

Next are the newel posts. I used 4x4 treated lumber, which is standard. Most people will just bolt the 4x4 through the stringers on the end. Those bolts are not the sturdiest connection by themselves, especially when they're only coming from one direction. I added blocking around the posts to add rigidity, then bolted them to the post from two different directions. 

An added bonus to using the blocking is that I could avoid having the bolt heads showing from the sides. And here's a picture of the newel post in place with a couple of bolts in (still needs one more).

The next detail are the back legs, next to the house. The 4x4 posts here are not only newel posts but structural legs that hold up the stairs. They sit on a 2x6, which in turn rests on the concrete block. The 2x6 is bolted to the block, and the legs are bolted to the 2x6 with angle clips. I put a spacer block under the post to raise it off the 2x6 a little bit. If any water sits on the top of the 2x6, it won't get absorbed by the end grain of the 4x4. Just another detail to improve the longevity of the structure.

Now that the structure is set, I can start on the treads and risers, making our stairs usable once again.

1 comment:

glenna said...

It had been so long from the posting in October until the one in Dec, that I had fallen off from checking. Glad to see you are chronicling the progress you have made on the house. Doing a super job.....we are all IMPRESSED! Our educational dollars at work!!