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Thread: Alternating Tread Stairs

  1. #1
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    Jan 2009
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    Alternating Tread Stairs

    Has anyone built/used alternating tread stairs, also known as "Jefferson stairs"? I've been putting in a second floor in my workshop, second floor will be accessed once a day, 140.5" from the first floor. Use will be dust-free hobbies, and for any "large equipment" I'd be lifting it via a hatch in the floor. Widest I can make the stairs is 30" due to building geometry.

    First off, I've evaluated installing an attic ladder, and that just won't work. That leaves a normal set of stairs (likely with a 90 or 180 turn) or a compact alternating tread design. I've never used this style before, but I need to finalize my stair design (and build them) before continuing with my second floor decking. I would like to save as much floor space as possible.

    There are companies that make these - though they indicate some circumstances aren't code compliant. Some big box stores sell a stair kit (and additional risers) in this design - from an Italian company.

    Ignoring construction methods (as I would secure the treads better), this is the style I'm referring to:

    https://www.ana-white.com/blog/2015/...ng-stairs-loft

    Any thoughts/suggestions would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    We have a similar but industrial system at work for going over conveyors. They're built by Lapeyre. You have to have a good grip on the handrails going up and especially down the stairs. They're a PITA if you want to carry something in your hands.

    I really don't like them and we're only going up about half the distance you want to go. Hope you're note to old or have bifocals.
    Confidence: The feeling you experience before you fully understand the situation

  3. #3
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    Modesto, CA, USA
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    You will need solid handrails on both sides. I doubt code will allow a 30" stairway as the only access. A firefighter in full gear could not go up that narrow a space
    Bill D

    On Edit:
    Talk to your insurance agent.

    https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/3231.html
    Last edited by Bill Dufour; 01-08-2022 at 7:40 PM.

  4. #4
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    I’d fall and break my neck inside a week.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  5. #5
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    I have worked in a facility with a set. They took some getting used to but once your mind adjusts it was fine.

  6. #6
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    I don't think I'd be comfortable walking down those stairs with my back to the stairs. Instead, I'd turn around and back down those stairs, just like I'd do with a conventional ladder. With that in mind, I'd probably just use a conventional ladder instead. I'd continue the handrail for the ladder a good long ways above the second floor, so I have something firm to hold on to as I make that pivot to go down the ladder.

    I'd also have couple of shopping bags at the top and the bottom of the stairs. When I want to carry little stuff up or down the stairs, I'd put it in a bag and sling the bag over my shoulder. That is, I'd have both hands free to hold on to the ladder.

  7. #7
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    I have nothing first-hand to offer, but the Dec/Jan issue of Fine homebuilding has an article on safety and code issues around so called "irregular" stairs, which include the alternating tread type.
    Last edited by Paul F Franklin; 01-08-2022 at 9:48 PM.
    --Certainty is the refuge of a small mind--

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul F Franklin View Post
    I have nothing first-hand to offer, but the Dec/Jan issue of Fine homebuilding has an article on safety and code issues around so called "irregular" stairs, which include they alternating tread type.
    Thanks! I just read the article, and it clarifies things quite a bit. I think now I understand in what circumstances the alternating design can be used.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dufour View Post
    If I'm reading it right, a 30" wide stairway is OK:

    Private stairways serving an occupant load of less than 10 may be 30 inches wide.
    I'd have to check MI code to be sure.

  10. #10
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    And Michigan code does not list an exception for that occupancy level, though it is interesting CA allows for a narrower stair. I have one area I can put 34.5" stair in - wouldn't get me the full 36" but would be closer than 30.

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