Building stairs: do I just put finished treads and risers on top of stringers? or do I use a layer of OSB first?


OSB is used for one of two reasons in my area:

just builder's grade prepackaged stairs. I can order a set of stairs for a couple hundred and have them installed in a basement in 2 hours by getting OSB (I never do this but could).

in a cheaply built home these could be used as is and carpeted.

I would personally never leave the OSB under the treads unless it would seriously mess something else up. The caveat is if you are using MDF treads, might as well leave the OSB. OSB is just crap and will certainly not take spills and moisture like a solid piece of wood.

Also I would worry that the "give" of the OSB would lead to squeaky stairs. For instance if I left it and used MDF I would just glue down the MDF everywhere on top. If using solid wood I would want to screw them into the risers. I wouldn't want the OSB sandwiched in the middle since I wouldn't trust this to be stable and...

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Yes, there is a ratio of height of riser to width of tread. Exterior stairs are not generally as steep as interior stairs. The ICC Code requires a minimum of 4” high riser and allows residential stairs to have a maximum of 8” high risers. All risers in a run must be within 3/8” difference of largest to smallest. (See R311.7.5.1.)

A commonly used formula for calculating the depth of tread to height of riser is established in “Graphic Standards”, commonly used by architects and engineers. On page 7 they give this formula for interior stairs:

Riser plus tread = 17.5”.

Thus 7 1/2” riser + 10” tread = 17.5”


Riser times tread = 75

Thus 7.5” riser x 10” tread = 75

You have two steps 6” I’d use 12 1/2”...

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Untreated plywood and oak will rot if heavily exposed to water. You need to switch your thinking to how an outdoor staircase is built. They use rot resistant wood, treated wood, or composite materials.

Marine plywood is a popular idea for water resistance but, due to its chemical composition, it isn't a healthy wood to use in a house. If children spend a lot of time playing on marine wood, they are risking actual poisoning. The symptoms start with mild chemical rashes and get worse from there.

Of your choices composite deck material will last the longest. And there is actual composite stair treads. But I've also built stairs using normal composite deck boards. As long as the under support isn't too far apart two 5ish inch composite boards work very well. See what you have locally. Treated and cedar lumber also works quite well, it just doesn't last as long. Purposed lumber like external stair treads are usually textured for traction.

Also check your local...

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Building the round house

Four months behind schedule, finally the construction of my round house has started. Why round, you might ask? Well, why not round, I might ask back! A round house has distinct advantages in terms of thermal insulation, and structural stability. Given that the winters here are cold, and I want to keep the house comfortably warm using only the power my microhydro plant can deliver, I need excellent insulation. That alone is reason enough to make the house round.

Here the building site has been staked out, with the height of the stakes marking the horizontal plane.

This machine dug the platform in about 10 hours. The earth was deposited 40 meters away, behind that tree that's behind the machine, where it does not cause trouble.

The first truck with gravel is arriving!

Unfortunately, this first delivery of sand and gravel I got was of...

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A skilled, experienced finish, cabinet and furniture man is looking at his first-ever staircase — and it's already framed. His questions set off a long discussion on stair construction techniques. November 19, 2005

I need help from experienced stair makers. We are all apprentices for life, as a friend of mine once said, but that being said, I have put in the time and paid my dues and fairly well mastered cabinet making, furniture making and finish carpentry. I just received an opportunity to lay some treads and risers on a stairway in a newly constructed house. The carpenters left the traditional space at the sides for skirt boards and the rough stair is in place. I believe there is OSB nailed to the top of the two by treads.

I live near Portland Oregon and the stock for the finished treads and risers is Oregon Myrtle Wood. The Myrtle stock is on site and acclimating to the house. I have never laid treads and risers but I have the experience listed...

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The Cupboard Under the Stairs[1] was Harry Potter's room in the Dursley household until he was given Dudley Dursley's old room, at 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging, Surrey. The cupboard was described as small and dusty, with lots of spiders.


When Harry's mother and father were killed in 1981, Harry was brought to his maternal aunt, Petunia Dursley. She and her husband Vernon reluctantly took him in, but treated him poorly, mostly because his parents had been magical and they feared that Harry would also turn out to be a "freak". Instead of being given a real bedroom, Harry was kept in the cupboard under the stairs. Harry's cousin Dudley is roughly the same age and used to jump up and down on top of these stairs so sawdust would fall onto Harry.

The Dursleys' fears about Harry being magical turned out to be correct, as Harry received an invitation to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in 1991. The first letter was addressed: Mr H Potter...

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About 45% of residential field inspections result in a code violation. That’s according to the Common Code Violations survey released in 2013 by the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB). Researchers polled code officials across the U.S. about the items most likely to be flagged during construction. The survey found overall compliance improving. Although inspectors are flagging a few specific items—most notably guardrails, stairs and anchor bolts for foundations—more often than in the past, in general they reported far fewer failed inspections than in a similar survey published in 2006.

Competitive pressures have certainly contributed to that improvement; failed inspections and re-do’s cost time and money. But state-mandated contractor training has also played a role. “The educational requirements for licensing have helped a lot,” Vaughn Wicker, ICC’s vice president of government relations, said. “A lot of states now require...

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By Greg Vanden Berge

I get asked this question a lot, how many stair stringers do I use when building a set of stairs?

It's common in the construction industry for roof rafters and floor joist to be spaced 16 inches on center and we can also use this basic framing method, to figure out how many stair stringers we actually need.

If you have a stairway that's 48 inches wide and you divide 16 inches into 48 inches, you will find that you need four stair stringers.

If you're stairway is between 30 and 36 inches you will need three stair stringers.

How many stair stringers you actually need will also be determined by the thickness of your stair treads. If you're going to use a 4 x 12 stair tread, there's a good chance you would only need one stair stringer at each end of the stairs, if you're stairway was less than 40 inches wide.

If you're going to use 2 x 12 stair treads, you could space your stair stringers 24 inches on...

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Riders on the storm Riders on the storm Into this house we're born Into this world we're thrown

Riders on the storm Riders on the storm Into this house we're born Into this world we're thrown Like a dog without a bone An actor out on loan Riders on the storm There's a killer on the road His brain is squirmin' like a toad Take a long holiday Let your children play If you give this man a ride Sweet family will die Killer on the road, yeah Girl, you gotta love your man Girl, you gotta love your man Take him by the hand Make him understand The world on you depends Our life will never end Gotta love your man, yeah Riders on the storm Riders on the storm Into this house we're born Into this world we're thrown Like a dog without a bone An actor out on loan. Riders on the storm Riders on the storm Riders on the storm Riders on the storm Riders on the storm Riders on the...

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Many stair design variations are possible. Stair layout for rise and run needs to be calculated with consideration to the stair tread that best suits your application.

Determine Stair Riser Locations

Determine stair riser locations

Good compaction is required

Once the number of steps has been determined and the type of stair tread has been selected, excavate the stair location based on the rise and run.

Mark the center of the stairway where the base stair riser will be placed. In this example the first stair riser is the continuation of the base course of the retaining wall that the stairs are being built into.
Each stair riser will need a minimum of 6 in. (150 mm) of base material under it that extends a minimum of 6 in. (150 mm) behind the retaining wall block.
Make adjustments as needed so that the first riser is not more than 8 in. (200 mm) high with stair tread material and final grading in place.
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There should be no guesswork when it comes to building stairs. Stair risers and treads, as well as width and headroom, are dictated by building code, which itself is often dictated by good, common sense. These rules are aimed at making stairways as safe as possible, so they should never be ignored or bypassed.

Following are suggested specifications for risers, treads, width, and headroom. These specs will help you build a safe, comfortable set of stairs for most houses.

Stair Riser Height: 7 3/4 Inches Maximum

Translated: This means that the distance you lift your foot from one stair to an adjacent stair can be no more than 7.75 inches high. Reason: To prevent stairs from being too high if walking upstairs or too low if descending. Both are safety hazards. Further, the riser measurement of each tread in a stairway should be as close as possible to identical. A stairway in which there is noticeable variation between the risers is a safety hazard.

Stair Tread...

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It wasn't trendy, funny, nor was it coined on Twitter, but we thought change told a real story about how our users defined 2010. Unlike in 2008, change was no longer a campaign slogan. But, the term still held a lot of weight. Here's an excerpt from our Word of the Year announcement in 2010:

The national debate can arguably be summarized by the question: In the past two years, has there been enough change? Has there been too much? Meanwhile, many Americans continue to face change in their homes, bank accounts and jobs. Only time will tell if the latest wave of change Americans voted for in the midterm elections will result in a negative or positive...

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