Monday, 27 December 2010

How to Build Basement Stairs on a Budget

Basement stairs come in all shapes and sizes from the very simple utility/access stairs to the more elaborate decorative stairs in which the basement is expanded to be a major part of the living area. One of the major issues facing the stair builder is the unpredictable overall stair height that often occurs with basement stairs. Whether new or existing construction the basement slab height nearly always seems to vary up or down making pre-built stairs problematic. For this reason basement stairs are usually built to customized heights.

The normal procedure in the industry is to call out a stair specialist to custom build the stair using 2 x12 cut stringers as framing for constructing the stair. This can be a difficult and costly process requiring a high degree of skill. However, there is an easier solution available that will save you time as well as money. The system consists of self-adjusting, stair building brackets, used to form an "engineered stair". Adjustable stair building brackets provide a custom, tailored approach to stair building that is much faster, easier and stronger than conventional construction. They're an easy, low cost and simple solution for any custom basement stair building.

This bracket system can quickly form a basic utility stair or an elaborate, fully finished hardwood stair. The adjustable stair building brackets basically do the work for you, making the stair building process simple and streamlined. The brackets are approved as adjustable joist hangers which automatically adjust to form any rise or run required while at the same time, allowing the risers to be structurally attached between the stringers, carrying the load across the stair like stepping floor joists.

Only two outside stringers are required because they are full depth, without notching (unlike conventional cut stringers) and they're engineered to carry much greater loads than conventional cut stringers. Additionally, only three to four end cuts are required per stringer which eliminate approximately seventy saw cuts when compared to conventional cut stringers for basement stairs.

The adjustable stair building brackets may be used with many different materials including pine, MDF treads, hardwoods etc. The adjustable stair building brackets allow for customized rise and tread configurations which can be adjusted to meet all building codes for both interior and exterior applications.

The first thing you need to do is to determine the material you are going to use, the exact number of steps and the stair width. A fully interactive stair calculator is available online which further simplifies the process.

For materials, you will need (2) 2 x6's per stringer member for both sides. The stringers should be straight without any twist. The 2x6's should be at least 12" longer than the total length of your stair.

Adjustable brackets will allow stairs to be built up to nine feet in width, using only the two outside stringers. Use 2x8's for risers with heights up to 7-1/4" and 2 x10's for risers over 7-1/4". Treads may be 2x12's, 5/4 pine, 5/4 hardwood, sturdy floor ripped to size or MDF etc. Pre-cut risers and treads exactly to length once you figure out how many steps you need and their width- this will save time.

You start by setting the brackets on two 2x6 stringer members using the reusable spacers and pivot screws. Once set, remove spacers and rotate the brackets to adjust stair rise and run. Fix the brackets in position and attach the risers and treads. 3D demos will explain the process clearly- see link below.

Tools and other materials needed will be: Power drill, saw (preferably power saw),# 8 1-1/4" Phillips head, star or square drive screws for the stair building brackets, #8 2-1/2" screws for every 9 " of tread and riser connections and spacers to customize the rise and tread configurations.

ICC-ES approved, this" Engineered Stair Building System" eliminates the need to cut stringers and has been tested to be faster and much stronger than conventionally constructed stairs. Savings of $500 per flight of stairs and more are not uncommon with adjustable stair building brackets. Using this system, both professionals and do-it-yourselfers will build cost efficient basement stairs, without sacrificing quality, accuracy, strength or appearance.

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Friday, 17 December 2010

Building Deck Stairs on a Budget

As a professional, I've built many decks of all sizes and shapes. Stairs are often the last part of the deck to be tackled because they are usually the most difficult and expensive part of the deck to build. However, by using a method known as the 'engineered bracket system', not only can I save up to $500 per flight of stairs, but the installation is easy, with professional results.

The adjustable stair bracket system automatically adjusts to the exact rise and run needed. The customized rise and treads configurations can be adjusted to meet all building codes for any interior or exterior application. The brackets act as joist hangers which allow the stair risers to be used structurally, carrying the load across the stair like floor joists. Using only two outside stringers, the stair width can be up to nine feet wide and the stairs are strong. The need for interior stringers is eliminated. The outside stringers then require only 3 to 4 cuts each, and the risers and treads are simply attached to the brackets. If you make a mistake, you can readjust the brackets.

A wide range of materials such as redwood, cedar, tropical wood, treated wood, untreated wood, vinyl, steel, and composites can be used. Adjustable brackets allow for customized rise and tread configurations which can be adjusted to meet all building codes for any interior or exterior application.

This is how it works: Set the brackets on the two 2x6 stringer members using the spacers and pivot screws. Remove spacers and rotate brackets to adjust stair height. Fix brackets in position, attach risers and treads. 3D video demos are available on the website below.

Before you begin, determine the material you are going to use, the exact number of steps you need and the stair width.

You will need (2) 2x6's per stringer for each side. Make sure when you purchase your 2x6's make sure that they are straight without any twist. The 2x6's will need to be at least 12" longer than the total length of your stairs. Two stringers are sufficient to span up to 7' wide (exterior stair requirements).

For risers you will use 2x8's for riser heights up to 7-1/4" and 2x10's for higher risers. For treads you can use 2x12's (which is the easiest option). However, if you decide to use (2) 6 inch wide treads instead...wood or composite, you will need to use cleat brackets to bridge between the risers for tread support. Time saving tip: when you determine how many steps you will need and your stair width....get all your risers and treads pre-cut to exact lengths when you purchase the materials.

Tools/Materials needed will be: a power drill, saw (skill saw is preferable, but not required, #8 1 1/4" Phillips flat head or star/square drive screws for the stair brackets, #8 2 1/2" deck screws for every 9" of tread and riser connection and Spacers for customized riser and tread measurements.

The "Engineered Stair Bracket System" method eliminates the need to cut stringers and is tested to be much stronger and faster than conventional construction. Whether you're a seasoned professional or a do-it-yourselfer, you will build fast, strong and accurate stairs, on a budget.

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Saturday, 11 December 2010

Poor Deck and Stair Construction Can Kill

In a recent article published in The Los Angeles Times, July 6th of this year, a tragic deck collapse resulting in serious injury and death, is reported. The deck was part of a three story apartment complex in a Birmingham suburb. Seven party-goers is all it took to create this tragic event. Unfortunately, this is an all to common occurrence now days. Reports are continually surfacing, confirming the growing frequency of these serious, life threatening collapses.

Over the past several years, much has been done to address deck and stair safety issues, but we still have a long way to go. One glaring example of the failure in deck and stair safety protocol is the industry standard of permitting "hot dipped galvanized" anchors, screws, hangers and other hardware to be in direct contact with ACQ, pressure treated wood. The galvanic corrosion created between the high copper content of the wood and the galvanizing is so severe that the normal industry standard of G90 galvanizing will corrode in as little as 12 months and G185, such as Z-Max® can be gone in 24 months. The industry (including code officials) has adopted G185 as a fall back position with no engineering testing available to substantiate the validity or longevity of this adoption...this is a "knee jerk" reaction and is an accident waiting to happen. Without a barrier between the pressure treated wood and galvanized hardware, serious corrosion is inevitable.

Take for example the new NADRA (North American Deck and Railing Association) study that examined the number of injuries caused by outdoor deck stairs and porches from 2003 to 2007. The report confirms that deck and stair injuries are on the increase. NADRA points to a 2003 study showing a total of 37,760 injuries which required a visit to the hospital. Of these injuries, 6,120 were a result of structural failure or collapse. Further, the report shows that by 2007, the incidents of serious injury had risen to 55,160. Quoting from the report- "Nearly 15% of all injuries are a result of structural failure". Wood decks are constantly exposed to the elements and they have a limited life span of 10-15 years. As you can see, important to have your deck and deck stairs inspected so that signs of wood decay and deterioration can be repaired.

Other codes address "rail post support" safety. A rail post per code regulations is required to support a lateral load of 200 lbs. This is a poorly enforced area of the code and with many inspectors content with the bump test. If it doesn't move too much when they bump it with their hip, the rail will pass inspection. Many rail posts are simply lagged or nailed to the rim joists and post which are mounted directly to the deck surface will simply not meet code. The tragedy is, there are systems available on the market that correctly address this problem. Simpson, USP and Deck-Loc have brackets which will meet code for rim joist attachment but there's only one adjustable bracket system (discussed below) which will meet code for wood or composite stairs.

Attention is now being given to the ability of the vertical post's strength when hit by various degrees of lateral thrust pressure. These new directives, requiring the vertical rail post to support a minimum of 200 lbs. of lateral thrust, is making engineered stair systems extremely popular, with their ability to withstand over 500 lbs of lateral thrust for the 'rail post support' structural sections of the overall decking plans.

Stairs are perhaps the most overlooked area of construction. Stairs using standard cut stringers have been used for eons and are "grandfathered" into code as accepted construction. Stringers are cut from 2x12's and greatly weakened in the process. Several stringers are then run longitudinal down length of the stair to make up for the strength loss during cutting. Long stair run tend to bounce and stringer failure is not uncommon. Additionally, many of these stairs are built without risers which is a "child safety" issue in many states. General Contractor and renowned professional deck builder, Pat Noonan of Minnesota says, "Of the 50+ decks I have torn off and replaced, not one had a stair system that outlasted the deck." The majority of them had shaky, unsafe stairs, and it was the main reason they were doing the rest of the deck."

Engineered stair systems such as adjustable bracket systems for wood stair and composite stairs overcome many of these problems and safety issues. This is due to the much more rigorous testing required to gain ICC/ES acceptance for a stair system which has not been simply "grand fathered" into common use. This adjustable bracket system is engineered in a completely different manner to conventional stair construction. These adjustable steel brackets lock the risers and treads onto the stringers, with a solid, joist hanger type connection. Only two stringers are required for stairs up to 7' in width. This becomes possible because the two outside stringers are full depth, acting like beams running down the length of the stair ( only three end are cuts required per stringer). Next, the risers (which are locked to the steel brackets) span across the stair like joist hangers, at each step supporting the tread.

The result is a "rock solid" stair which has been tested at over 1,200 lbs. per sq. ft.(uniform distributed load), well in excess of the code requirement of only 100 lbs per sq. ft. (commercial load). The steel brackets adjust to form any rise or run required and are powder coated over a hot dipped galvanized finish. The powder coating (paint) sets up an effective barrier between the pressure treated wood and the galvanized finish, preventing corrosion. Additionally the structural risers overcome the child safety issue (found on stairs without risers) and as mentioned above, the brackets have been tested to exceed code requirements for lateral load applied to "rail post" supports.

General Contractor Pat Noonan continues, "Craftsmanship will only take you so far when you are dealing with a inferior framing system and components. When deck builders notch steps out of a 2"x12", they are cutting all the strength out of the wood and putting the entire weight of the stair plus anyone walking up or down on 4" of wood left in the 2"x12". With an adjustable bracket system, they are putting the weight on 11' of solid wood- there's no comparison".

EZ Stairs adjustable bracket stair system allows builders to construct stairs with a wide range of materials such as redwood, cedar, tropical wood, treated wood, untreated wood, vinyl, steel, and composites. This stair system allows for customized rise and treads configurations which can be adjusted to meet all building codes for any interior or exterior application- ICC approved. It is the only adjustable stair bracket system available anywhere. The EZ Stairs system will allow you to build strong, easy to install stairs, in less time and with less money than traditional construction. You will have stairs that will last for many years longer than conventional stair construction.To help you figure out how many stairs you will need, the website provides a free stair calculator.

Tag : stair lifts,stair desigh,stair railing

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Saturday, 4 December 2010

You Don't Need to Sell Your Home to Avoid Climbing Stairs - CHAIR LIFT Solutions Make Sense Today

Are you or a loved one having trouble climbing stairs in your home? A stairlift might be the best way to provide the assistance you need for yourself, handicapped or elderly loved ones - to get up and down your stairs. Chair lifts today are convenient home stair lift systems that provide safe and easy ways to give anyone a lift - and provide elderly help with stairs.

Not long ago you may have simply put your home on the market and planned to move into a smaller single-level home without stairs. Chair lifts for stairs, or stair lifts were rarely considered good options. They were expensive, hard to install, and cumbersome.

With our current poor economy and depressed housing market, the option to move may not be feasible any longer. There are so many reasons to avoid selling your home now besides the effort and time to it can take to get your home market-ready quickly.

Instead you can have a home stair lift system installed in just a few weeks without any hassle on your part. Having reliable aid with a stair chair lift installed can save you the time, money, and hassle of moving to a home without stairs.

Stair lift manufacturers have modernized and automated the production of state-of-the-art home stair lift systems. The new motorized stair chair lifts can fit any staircase, indoors or out, without remodeling or pulling up carpeting.

New stair lift designs are available for stair chair lifts and perch stair lifts to carry you or your loved ones up and down your stairs safely, indoors or out. Narrow and curved staircases can be fitted too. The sturdy designs look great with any d├ęcor.

Newly designed remote controls make stair chair lifts easy-to-use. Most people now want a battery powered model stair lift instead of an electric stair lift to avoid power cords and connection issues around the stairs for everyone's safety. Seat belts on the stairlift are available for added safety.

The perch stair lift design stair lift design is recommended when sitting is harder than standing while going up and down stairs. Chair lifts fold up so even narrow staircases can be fitted with a sturdy stair lift.

Special outdoor models are available which are designed to withstand Mother Nature so you can also install them on outdoor stairs.

Enjoy Your Home Longer with the Help of a Home Stair Lift System

While it might be a problem selling your home and moving to avoid climbing stairs, it's not a problem finding an easy way to get a lift up your stairs. Chair lift support might be the best answer for you and your family's concerns about climbing stairs.

Get a FREE Video and see How to Get a LIFT on Life With a Stair Chair Lift

You can see the stair lift models and get a free stairlift video showing you how a home stair chair lift or perch stairlift system can improve your life at

Tag : stair lifts,climbing stairs,wood stair,stair design

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