Tips for Installing a Staircase
LESLIE: Justin in Missouri needs some help with a staircase. What can we do for you today?JUSTIN: I was trying to get stairs put into my house. I have a spiral staircase right now.TOM: OK.JUSTIN: And I wanted to put in a normal staircase because the spiral staircase is a homemade version and not very applicable for us. So I was trying to figure out the best way to do that; resources, books, anything, any information you can give me would be great.TOM: Well, the problem is that if you want to get rid of the spiral, you’re going to need a lot more space, physical space, to get a staircase in.LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah.TOM: I mean the nice thing about a spiral is it needs very little run, so to speak; the size of the hole in the ceiling is pretty much the whole space that it needs to operate. If you’re going to have any type of a straight run staircase, you’re going to need a lot more distance. Do you have that ability to carve out that much floor space to create, you know, a straight or an angled staircase going up?JUSTIN: Yes, sir. We do. We have a – the whole floor is – only half of it is cut out for the top floor and then, behind that, is a framed-up coat closet; so we would take that out and move it on over. So we have probably, I think, 12 feet of linear space.TOM: Twelve linear feet? Yeah, you’re going to need every bit of it. And what’s the ceiling height?JUSTIN: Of the first floor or …?TOM: From the top of the second floor to the top of the first floor, what’s the ceiling height?JUSTIN: I believe that it’s a ten-foot ceiling?TOM: Really?JUSTIN: I’m guesstimating. It’s a ranch – it’s a built-in-’68 ranch, so …TOM: Well, it would be unusual for it to be ten-foot. Let’s assume it’s eight-foot.JUSTIN: OK.TOM: Well, Justin, if you have a typical eight-foot ceiling, you’re going to need probably about nine-foot worth of vertical rise from the floor – you know, up through the floor joist to the top of the next floor; so that’s around 108 inches. What that boils down to is that you’re going to need a run, a linear run, for a straight staircase of around 11 feet. And the problem is you only have 12 feet. And so you can’t do a straight staircase up. You’re going to probably have to do this in two sections; where it goes up, say, five treads and then it hits a platform and turns again and goes up again, which means it’s going to cut out and into that room quite a bit.So the bottom line is if you replace the spiral with a straight staircase, it’s going to cost you a lot of space to do that. So make sure it’s something that you really are prepared to give up because it’s not going to be nearly as efficient as the spiral stair that you have right now in terms of square footage. It will give you better access; be easier to move around. But doing the straight run with a nine-foot rise, you’re going to need about 11 feet to do that; otherwise, the staircase gets too steep.JUSTIN: Yes, I agree. Thank you very much.TOM: You’re welcome, Justin. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.