I'm not happy with the layout of my current home and one of the things I
really don't like is how the staircase flows from the first to the second
floor. Right now you walk into the front door of the house and straight
ahead is the staircase. There are about a dozen steps up, then then next
couple turn you 90 degrees and then a final couple of steps.
The problem is that all the space between the stairs and front door and
about 1/3 of the living room end up being "walkway" and it's a major pain
trying to get furniture positioned usefully.
What I'd like to do is cut out the bottom 3 or 4 steps and turn them so the
stairs have an extra 90 turn. This will allow me to move the front hall
closet againts the side of the new steps, opening up the entranceway as well
as reducing the exposure from wind/cold when the door is opened. It would
also really reduce the wasted space here.
...so... How hard is it do modify an existing staircase? I have full access
to the stairs from the basement below.
It's just carpentry, albeit perhaps somewhat tricky to get dimensions
and angles right, but nothing that careful planning and execution won't
take care of. If you're thinking of building an angled or spiral set
of stairs at the bottom and haven't built stairs before, you'll find it
challenging, no doubt. If you're reasonably skilled and have
problem-solving skills to figure out how to compute/measure the right
angles to get the proper rise/run, it's doable. Otoh, if
framing a straight wall is a challenge, you'll probably want to
consider getting a pro to at least do the framing/structure.
Problem you may run into is that by the time you make the transition to
get the 90-deg turn, either by incorporating a landing or by multiple
steps around the corner, you'll find the required extension into the
room the other way also too long. Only careful design before you start
will tell you the answer to that question. Look carefully at the
overall space required to make the transition at the top in terms of
height and distance and transfer that to the location of the bottom --
you may find that what looks superficially like a simple rearrangement
of those bottom 3 or 4 steps actually requires far more footprint than
you're envisioning to reach the floor level. This is a perfect place
to build a few trial models of cheap ply or even cardboard to work out
the arrangement before you start cutting to be sure it will actually
I'd suggest looking at the local library and perhaps online for a
couple books on building staircases -- Taunton Press has a couple I've
glanced through that are pretty good altho I don't recall who was the
If you have to ask "how hard is it to modify a stair case" the answer
is "too hard". It's not easy and you have structural issues to deal
Think about this as an alternative. You want to turn the bottom 3 or 4
steps and you'll have a landing over top of where those stops are now.
It will be easier to just build the landing over top of those stairs
and leave them in place. Then just add new stairs on the side of the
--- <-- existing stairway
-------------------------------------| <---new landing
... --- .......................... | <--- new stairs coming
........ --- ....................... |
| existing to stairway to remain in place.
Hmmm...now that does point up something I was wondering about. I can't
see where he gains anything on the footprint. 3 steps turned 90
degrees will still extend the same length along the space as the
original three steps did or only a few inches shorter. Assuming treads
11" deep (average), the 3 steps take up almost 3 foot where they are,
turned sideways they will also be about 3ft wide.
I would think he would lose space, but he will reconfigure the room so
he could put some piece of furniture right where the bottom of the
steps are not and maybe pick up some liveable room by being able to use
space that is now a large walkway or something.
Harry K wrote:
Well, the first thing you need to keep in mind is that
if you're only changing the direction of the last few
steps, you're not going to and up changing the
length of the stairway at all. The landing
(and you DON'T want winders on your main stair..)
will take up the same space as the steps that you're
re-directing. So the only thing you gain is
moving where you enter the stairway.
Then there's the problem of overhead clearance..
the distance from the front of each step to
whatever's overhead has to be what, 78"?
(or is that spiral stairs, and thse have to be 80"?)
So you may end up having to rebuild a section
of the second floor.
The simplest way to modify the stairs, if you're
still determined to do it, is to just build
a platform that covers the bottom three steps,
and then build a short stairway up to this new
landing from the side.
Are there cellar stairs underneath these?
If not, I think you'd be better off swapping the
stairway end-for end.
Or moving the front door. That would
actually be easier. I don't
suppose you can post a floor-plan anywhere?
(of all three floors)
I ran into an oddity in a very old house. Cramped floor space at the
bottom so they hinged the bottom 3 steps. Those steps neatly folded up
over the top of the next 3 steps. Looked strange, but it worked.
Allowed space for a door that would have been blocked.
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