Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 21

Thread: Rethinking Winder Stair

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Northern MN
    Posts
    7

    Rethinking Winder Stair

    Hi all!

    We are renovating our house, and I am trying to figure out a plan for the stair. This was once a "cabin" so it was not exactly done with code in mind.

    As a result, there is variance in the step rise, the treads are only 35" wide, and there are spaces we want to eliminate.

    These sub-treads just had carpet glued to them, so I will take them out and replace them,

    The question is - what is the best way to move forward? I'd really like to do something special, not standard bullnose treads. And I am not entirely sure what to do with the winder treads. The house is coming out pretty modern so I'd really like to get a blocky/square tread look for both the treads and nosing. We'll be aiming to match flooring using white oak and a whitewash stain.

    What do you all recommend:
    1. For the treads: should we be looking for solid white oak 1" treads with a square/eased edge, or false like these? I can't have too much overhang because I want the treads flush or below the sloped wall.
    2. What would be the best way to go about the winder treads? I see the options as: (a) use flooring pieces with nosing trim - but how to match to square treads, (b) oak plywood joined with 5/4 oak stock to fabricate a nosing - but how to join?
    3. The rise varies way too much, so when I add new sub-treads I am thinking of using varying thickness to even out the variance to be within the code 3/8" variance. Is this a reasonable idea?


    Thanks all!


    IMG_6545.jpgIMG_6544.jpgIMG_6547.jpgIMG_6548.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Western Nebraska
    Posts
    3,825
    How much rise variance is there? It's usually a lot easier to fix the framing so you can use the same dimensions on the pretty parts. I recommend a 3/4" tread with a 1" bullnose attached, just good glue is fine. However, look at your riser height closely and see how thick you should be based off the top floor finished height vs the top tread height, then compare that to the bottom tread height. Something looks inconsistent height in the pictures, but it could be better in person. I personally run riser grain at a diagonal, I think most do.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    1,355
    Bullnose is common for a reason. Square edges will wear in the center and look bad.

    Overhang makes stairs much nicer to use, especially going down.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Western Nebraska
    Posts
    3,825
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    How much rise variance is there? It's usually a lot easier to fix the framing so you can use the same dimensions on the pretty parts. I recommend a 3/4" tread with a 1" bullnose attached, just good glue is fine. However, look at your riser height closely and see how thick you should be based off the top floor finished height vs the top tread height, then compare that to the bottom tread height. Something looks inconsistent height in the pictures, but it could be better in person. I personally run riser grain at a diagonal, I think most do.
    I meant winder grain, not riser grain. That'd look silly!

  5. #5
    You need to measure (carefully) the total rise you need and the run you can have. You can google it but I think the maximum rise is 7 3/4. You divide the total rise by different number of rises (steps) to come up with a rise per stair less than 7 3/4. Then you look at the total run for that number of treads. I don't know if there are requirements for how much each tread can overlap the lower one. I only let it be an inch or so. Maybe more is OK.

    This information will tell you what is possible to do within the space available. I had one staircase (my home has two) that had winder stairs and also had a couple steps with over 10 inches of rise (one was over 11 inches). The longer run had 8 inch rise per step. But the treads were also extra wide (done by nailing and glueing flooring to the back of treads). So I had space to do it right. After doing the math, I tore the entire staircase out, cut new stringers, and put up the new staircase. It was a fair bit of work but wasn't really that hard. I didn't need the winders, I just needed normal tread width and a rise of about 7 3/8 per step.

    It may be possible to eliminate your winder steps but it depends on how many rises you need within the space you have. You would have to reframe the stairs to eliminate them. The only way to know is to do the math - which takes little time. You can get a good idea with crude measurements but before making sawdust I would get the rise and run available within no more than 1/8 inch.

  6. #6
    I think max rise is 8 , or 8 and 1/4 , which is crazy tall. I used to make stairs often. Did one winder that treads had to go to
    a square newel , still makes my head hurt.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    I meant winder grain, not riser grain. That'd look silly!
    Steve, I spent 10 minutes trying to make sense of that !

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Western Nebraska
    Posts
    3,825
    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    Steve, I spent 10 minutes trying to make sense of that !
    Lol, sorry Mel! It would be a striking look though...

    For the dimensions debate, the old rule of thumb is tread depth plus riser height equals 18". Steeper stairs feel better with a shortened tread and a taller riser. Code dictates nearly everything now though, and it says tread least a 11", so steep stairs cannot be built and be compliant.

    One old carpenter trick to share when building framer stairs, use 2x12 as the treads. Cut the stringers so the riser fits behind the tread. Use 1x8 for the risers, and you have 1 1/2" of wiggle room to set the riser height and still not have a gap between riser and tread. Allows riser to be between 5 3/4" and 7 1/4" with no ripping of riser width. That's the range the risers have to be for code, and it makes a comfortable stair. I personally can feel a riser height varience of 1/4" pretty easily, so I make my stairs to be exactly the same rise per each. Mind the top one and finish floor height. Not really to hard to make a good set of stairs, but it does take some planning.

  9. #9
    Thanks, Steve. The old books show 5 and 1/2 ----12 as the ideal. But I don't remember making any lower than about
    7and 1/2 by 11. I know I've walked at least one 5and 1/2 X 12 in an old museum house, It's comfortable walking .
    Not in any way climbing. I tried several times to sell that to folks building lavish homes. All rejected it. I blame
    physical fitness for the "rise in the decline " of fine stairs.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    North Dana, Masachusetts
    Posts
    160
    IMG_6544 (2).jpg
    Evening out the rise is a good thing to do. It's amazing that as little as 1/4"makes stairs feel awkward.
    What are you doing for a handrail?

  11. #11
    I would do whatever it takes to get rid of the winders. Put in a landing and add 3 steps at bottom. Or resolve the rise and run so maybe add 2 steps. If keeping the winders the hand rail should be on the right going down. If on the left a person that relies on hand rail ends up on the point of the winder step with little room to place their foot. Been thru this one - now have landing.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    1,355
    It seems that no architect ever designs a straight set of stairs for a house. There is always a turn. It may make some kind of sense but not to anyone who has to move furniture up or down.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Northern MN
    Posts
    7
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    How much rise variance is there?
    Right now the max to min variance is 1-5/16". The main treads are consistent, so the stringers must be OK, but the winders are off the rails:

    • 7" rise to the first winder
    • 8-5/16" from the last winder to the next normal tread


    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    It's usually a lot easier to fix the framing so you can use the same dimensions on the pretty parts.
    That makes a lot of sense. I haven't dismantled it yet, but I am a little concerned about reworking the framing since there is a finished ceiling for the stairs below. But it may be unavoidable to just take everything apart and reconstruct once the winders are consistent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    I recommend a 3/4" tread with a 1" bullnose attached, just good glue is fine.
    Dumb question - how is this done? the 1" overhangs on the bottom and isn't seen because it's against the riser?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    However, look at your riser height closely and see how thick you should be based off the top floor finished height vs the top tread height, then compare that to the bottom tread height. Something looks inconsistent height in the pictures, but it could be better in person. I personally run riser grain at a diagonal, I think most do.
    Winder grain - yes makes sense! what do you think of places that sell winder treads like this? Do people typically just make them out of nosing, flooring, or decent plywood? I like the idea of this all being consistent with the finish of the flooring for a simple, clean look.


    I am attaching some photos that are inspiring to us.

    We are using a 13/16" engineered white oak floor at the top and the bottom of the stairs. At the top it will just be that small balcony area. So I need to figure out:

    1. How can I transition from this 13/16" floor to the stairs? I know usually this is a "nosing" but if I am using a square/eased tread, how can I match that on the "top stair" which should be flush with the floor?
    2. How can I trim out the 2 exposed edges of the balcony? I believe usually this also is a "nosing" which would be trimmed at the bottom, but I'd like to do something more modern/contemporary. Some square trim which would cover from the rough flooring edge to the exposed drywall edge? Are there tricks to ensuring the floor is tightly aligned with this trim, or is this just a matter of being as precise as possible?
    3. Should I make treads/risers myself, or source treads with a white oak treads with a square profile?


    You will see in the photos we are inspired by plywood stairs as well - but I am not familiar with the joinery techniques they are using. Miter the tread/riser and use a Domino? I realize the overhang is there for practical reasons, so I am leaning toward using solid white oak if I figure out where to get it.

    Thanks all for your help!

    Screen Shot 2020-08-03 at 7.53.20 PM.jpgScreen Shot 2020-08-03 at 7.52.44 PM.jpgScreen Shot 2020-08-03 at 7.54.04 PM.jpgScreen Shot 2020-08-03 at 7.55.11 PM.jpgScreen Shot 2020-08-03 at 7.55.48 PM.jpg
    Last edited by Patrick Krekelberg; 08-03-2020 at 9:09 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Northern MN
    Posts
    7
    Quote Originally Posted by William Hodge View Post
    IMG_6544 (2).jpg
    Evening out the rise is a good thing to do. It's amazing that as little as 1/4"makes stairs feel awkward.
    What are you doing for a handrail?
    Yes, it definitely does, especially once you know to anticipate it

    The handrail for the balcony above will be steel, made by a local metalworker (attached our inspiration). I'm unsure what we will do on this lower part.

    Screen Shot 2020-04-19 at 12.21.47 PM.jpg

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Northern MN
    Posts
    7
    so if I want to use a 1" or 1.5" square tread (just for example) with an eased edge and minimal overhang, what is the ideal method to get the same look for the winder treads and the top step where it meets up with the 13/16" balcony floor?

    For the winder treads, should I try to get some from a place that matches the tread profile such as Stair Supplies? Or should I make this from white oak plywood and make or find a molding with the same profile?

    For the balcony floor, rookie question I know, but if I had or made a 1" or 1.5" molding to match a square/eased tread profile, would I just rip down the flooring piece there and glue/clamp the molding to the flooring somehow, to make it seamless and unified from the floor to the treads?

    What would you advise for making such a molding, just 5/4 stock and add the edge on a router table? Or is such a molding readily available?

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •