# Stringer confusion.

• posted on January 7, 2007, 3:33 am
I'm building stairs from my first floor to the second floor of my house. I'm using 2x12x16' stringers
One person says a certain method is good and another says it is not. As far as local building codes go, there's no way I can call them, my house is a disaster at the moment. However, my reluctance to contact them doesn't mean I don't want to do this right.
Anyway, I just left a web site where the guy said that making the top tread flush with the platform is "By far the preferred method". Whoa!!! Everyone tells me you can't do that!! To me it seems the most logical approach. Why is everyone telling me not to do that? That is, except for this web site. http://www.jself.com/stair/straight/Stringer.htm
The book I bought at Lowes recommends double 2x10 with a 3/4 inch plywood attached to the front of them. In the picture it looks like half the stringer will attach to the 2x10 through the plywood but the rest will just be on the plywood. My ceiling Joist is a 2x8, how does this method help me? The stringer will barely be on the 2x8 because it has to be 7 inches down from the top landing. Is this a stupid recommendation ..or am I stupid?
Others say to hook the last riser behind the 2x8 joist. How in the world am I going to do the Math on that? I gotta end up with an extra riser that has a run just before it that is 1 7/8 inch longer than all the others? Or get this, this web site says to make the last tread an extra 2 inches to add in the joist width. They said, "this doesn't usually weaken the stringer substantially". Is it EVER wise to reduce the strength of a 16 foot board with huge notches cut out anymore than you have too? And to boot, isn't this clever modification at the worst posible place....the point of attachment?
If anybody has any insight on what is really going on please bring me into the light. For now, I'll just keep using the ladder.
Thanks, Jerome
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• posted on January 7, 2007, 4:46 am
Richard wrote:

in stair building, there is definitely more than one way to skin a cat, and most of them work.
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• posted on January 7, 2007, 5:08 am

Yes...that's how the old stairs were. I didn't want to mimick the old stringers for many reasons. Installing the new using the old concept appears beyond my skill so I'm looking into "common" practices.
Thank you

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• posted on January 7, 2007, 2:37 pm

From the one factory built and one site built staircases I've had done the top is a riser which is attached to the FACE of the floor joists. The couple of deck stairs I've built I ran the stringer into the face of the joist and skipped the riser. The tread on top doesn't make sense to me unless there is a reason to make the whole staircase 1 foot longer. The two staircases I had the problem was getting the most tread while still making the staircase fit in the allowable space.
Steve.
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• posted on January 8, 2007, 12:32 pm

This my problem now. I cut the stringer. Rise = 7 3/4 Run = 9 3/4 This is still not steep enough to satisfy the 6' 10" requirement on the bottom header. It measures 6' 5" from the nose of the 4th step to the header.
I already cut out a joist and put up a 9' laminate to secure 6 joists. It will be alot of work to cut out another, also, because the next joist down for bracing is beat to shit, I will have to replace it as well.
I figure 3/4 of an inch should clear that bottom header. Should I take it from the rise or run or both? I don't care about code at this point, the house is old and I have a full time job....this shit could go on for weeks.
Respectfully, Jerome

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• posted on January 8, 2007, 5:35 pm

Tough to make a suggestion without seeing the whole picture.
Unless 6'-10' is a local requirement you only need 6'-8".
It sounds like you are stuck with meeting code for header height or tread width but not both. I don't like my toes hanging over the nosing going down stairs so if you aren't getting this inspected I would not shorten the treads and just not worry about the header issue.
The house I just moved out of had the header clearance at 6'-1" so my wife put up a sign that said "Do not hit your head here. It will hurt".
Steve.
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• posted on January 9, 2007, 6:21 am
This helps. Thanks for re-checking the thread. I'll keep the stair size and live with the header distance.
jerome

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• posted on January 9, 2007, 4:41 pm

Around here, headroom above the stairs only needs to be 6' 8" on the leading edge of the stair tread (the same height as most doorway openings).
What kind of load is on the joist above the stairwell? If it's just a closet or something, you might be able to install multiple shorter joists (i.e. 4 - 2x4 joists, in place of a single 2x8 joist. You're so close to the 6' 8" headroom, it just might be all you need.
If you can't enlarge the stairwell, you'll have to increase the rise and/or decrease the run to make it fit the available space. Until recently (and probably still in some areas), code allowed an 8" rise on residential stairs. I don't know how many risers you have, but with 12 risers that extra 1/4" would give you the additional 3" you need.
I had a similar situation when I rebuilt the stairs for our garage attic. I couldn't enlarge the stairwell opening because it was in the corner of the building, and headroom in the attic was already tight. And I needed even more room because of the 10' ceiling in our garage. I ended up using an 8.25" rise with a 9" run, and installed 2x10's (9.25" deep) for my stair treads. It doesn't meet current codes, but we find it to be very comfortable to navigate, even with arm loads of boxes.
As for hanging the top of the stair treads, I used metal strapping (my stair stringer starts one step down from the floor). I nailed the strapping to the bottom of the stringer, bent it up around the edge that meets the floor joist, then extend it up the full height of the floor joist. Once the strap is nailed to the joist it makes a very strong connection. Nailing into the bottom of the stringer eliminates any risk of splitting the stringer, and the strapping takes very little space from the run. I installed three stringers for a stronger stair.
We're actually getting ready to do some remodeling at my in-laws house. Their basement stairs currently have 5' 6" of headroom over the treads, and go directly under a bathtub. I'm 6 feet tall, so it takes some real ducking to go down to their basement. :) Obviously, no amount of fiddling with the rise or run is going to make a code approved stair fit in that space. So, we're planning to remove part of the back porch and rotate the stairs 90 degrees so we can get full headroom over the stairs. Of course, that means relocating the septic line. It quickly turns into a domino effect... :)
Anthony
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• posted on January 10, 2007, 2:13 pm

I botched this in my original post. It's 6'8" here too.

You must be clairvoyent. It is a closet. However, and I could be seeing too linear, but the joist under question is the brace for the other 6 cut joists. The next joist down the run is split and even a novice like me wouldn't consider using that as my new brace/sister. I really wish I knew the right terms...I'd be boss then.
Thanks for the dialogue. It really helps alot