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Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: deckeda
Date: May 17, 2011 04:07PM
The stairs and railing in this photo are entirely being replaced. The new stairs will be 2-step again but narrower. The old steps were 6ft. wide and the replacements will be 4ft. wide.

Given that the old railing was nailed straight to porch posts 6ft. apart...you see the issue.

The new railing can be pretty much any design, doesn't have to be that basic 2x4 again. In fact I envisioned using Newell posts at the bottom that appear to "sit" on the last step (they'd actually be attached to the outer stringers/bottom riser yet to be installed, with the bottom tread notched around the posts.)

So I need some kind of straight handrail that can flare out 1ft. to meet the porch post, I suppose. The left side would be the same, another railing, putting the new 4ft. stairs in the middle of where the original 6ft. stairs were.

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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: weapon
Date: May 17, 2011 04:09PM
I have a 40" monitor and can't get that whole photo to fit the screen. lol
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: decocritter
Date: May 17, 2011 04:16PM
where are the stairs
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: May 17, 2011 04:36PM
My first suggestion is too turn the stairs 90-degrees from what the photo doesn't quite show.



“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
-- François de La Rochefoucauld
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: davester
Date: May 17, 2011 04:37PM
You need newell posts at the top too. Here's a picture of what I built on our back porch. You could do the same thing, only turn the railing above the upper newell 90 degrees to meet your post. The lower newell post can't be seen in the picture but it does what you say you are doing, goes through the step and is anchored below.





"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: neophyte
Date: May 17, 2011 04:47PM
You'll need a few more small rocks to more securely chock up those stringers too. ;)
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: May 17, 2011 04:47PM
OK, I see it now.

The question you have to ask yourself is.. do you want this railing to be decorative or functional ?

I built a railing for our old house out of the wolmanized stuff you get at Home Depot. Except I turned the posts on a lathe to smooth 'em out, then painted them with a thick solid 'stain'... really an oil based paint. THEN used a interior stair rail type handrail for the top of the rail, sanded the heck out of it, painted and sealed it so it was very smooth and easy to grasp. AND put no-skid silica down on the steps.

Did I mention we had elderly parents visiting ?
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: davester
Date: May 17, 2011 07:19PM
Thinking about it a little further, I'd suggest putting the lower newell posts on the concrete walkway. Use Titan post anchors to attach them (the only brand I've found that is worth a $%!^#$!). They're mail order only. Don't bother with the ones at big box stores.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: deckeda
Date: May 17, 2011 08:08PM
Cripes. Image uploaded to Dropbox and posted this thread all from the iPhone ... where it looked correct. Even on the Mac, the picture is correctly vertical. Whatever.

Let's try this again:



Lower Newell posts on cement pad vs. up higher, on lowest step:
I think it would look better through the step, but down lower would offer longer rails, that reach lower like what the originals did. And that kind of thing (i.e. the beginning "reach" height for the handrail) may be subject to code. I'll have to ponder some.

Regarding my main question I think I've got it. Like you say davester, just go straight up with the railing and then take a right angle over from a top newell post. After I find out how to attach that. At any rate I have a lot of neighbors with similar scenarios.
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: deckeda
Date: May 17, 2011 08:30PM
Quote
neophyte
You'll need a few more small rocks to more securely chock up those stringers too. ;)

I'm replacing the stringers, too. Going from 6ft. steps with 3 stringers to 4ft. steps with 4 stringers.

And the stringers will have shorter riser and longer tread dimensions. The old stairs had a relatively shorter step off the porch, then a deeper step, then the step-off to the cement was large. Even more so now that the porch is actually level smiling smiley
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: davester
Date: May 17, 2011 08:36PM
The top newell post is easy. Run it through the porch and bolt to the fascia. You may have to notch it to fit behind the fascia and also line up with the porch posts. How are the porch posts attached?...maybe use the same method.

Looking at this picture, it looks to me like the steps are too steep and also uneven heights. It is critical for safety and comfort to have them have equal rises and nose-to-nose runs. If they are much over 7.5 inches high, you should install an additional step. That will make them much more pleasant and safe to climb and descend, and also would make it less problematic to have the newell post inset into the lowest stair. Make sure that the rise + run = about 17.5".

One more thing: I don't think you need 4 stringers for a 4-foot wide stairway. In fact, it'll be a PITA to get all four of them perfectly cut lined up at each step. Three is difficult enough. Be sure that there is no wood to concrete contact at the bottom of the stringer (dry rot waiting to happen). Use a metal bracket to elevate the wood slightly.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/17/2011 08:43PM by davester.
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: MikeF
Date: May 17, 2011 08:42PM
Check your local code for the distance between balusters. It's probably 4 inches or less which may work if you're using 2x2 balusters and 4 on two steps.

Stair parts:
[www.stairpartsusa.com]
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: davester
Date: May 17, 2011 08:44PM
Quote
MikeF
Check your local code for the distance between balusters. It's probably 4 inches or less which may work if you're using 2x2 balusters and 4 on two steps.

That's generally true of decks and stairs over 30" above the ground. I doubt that there's a standard for his situation because it is so low.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: deckeda
Date: May 17, 2011 09:19PM
Quote
davester
The top newell post is easy. Run it through the porch and bolt to the fascia. You may have to notch it to fit behind the fascia and also line up with the porch posts. How are the porch posts attached?...maybe use the same method.

The other rail posts are sitting on the porch deck. I really don't desire to run posts through the porch deck. I'd likely ruin that front decking board and have no easy way to replace it.

Quote
davester
Looking at this picture, it looks to me like the steps are too steep and also uneven heights. ...

Yeah, that's why I said the setup will have shorter risers and deeper treads; that's why I'm not reusing the old stringers---they had stupid dimensions that made the stairs too steep and didn't afford decently deep treads.

So, the old stringers were taller but squandered the height by putting the top step closer to the porch deck than necessary, and left the bottom step too far from the concrete. The new ones will put the first step closer to the concrete and a little farther from the porch deck, for more evenly-spaced steps. The only issue there is that the porch's rim joist doesn't quite reach down far enough. I need to add some wood there.

Quote
davester
One more thing: I don't think you need 4 stringers for a 4-foot wide stairway. In fact, it'll be a PITA to get all four of them perfectly cut lined up at each step. Three is difficult enough. Be sure that there is no wood to concrete contact at the bottom of the stringer (dry rot waiting to happen). Use a metal bracket to elevate the wood slightly.

3 stringers would give me 16" spacing, the maximum allowable, but I feel more comfortable going with 12" spacing for this heavy traffic area. I'll look at metal brackets for below the stringers---I didn't know treated wood couldn't sit on concrete and don't recall seeing any pictures online like that. The old stringers were OK.
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: M>B>
Date: May 17, 2011 10:15PM
Also, check with your local building department as to what the requirements for a hand rail. My building department has very strict requirements for handrail profiles and placement. A 2x4 top rail would never qualify in my county. Equal strict requirements here for step riser and depth dimensions.
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Re: Looking for stair railing idea to flare out the handrail.
Posted by: davester
Date: May 17, 2011 10:38PM
Quote
deckeda
The other rail posts are sitting on the porch deck. I really don't desire to run posts through the porch deck. I'd likely ruin that front decking board and have no easy way to replace it.

One way to do that is to sister a large piece of lumber (e.g. 4x6) to the fascia and/or other framing and flush beneath the deck boards with some sturdy bolts and connectors. You could then use a post anchor (Titan again) to bolt through the deck to the piece of lumber. without cutting through the deck boards.

Quote
deckeda
Yeah, that's why I said the setup will have shorter risers and deeper treads; that's why I'm not reusing the old stringers---they had stupid dimensions that made the stairs too steep and didn't afford decently deep treads.

So, the old stringers were taller but squandered the height by putting the top step closer to the porch deck than necessary, and left the bottom step too far from the concrete. The new ones will put the first step closer to the concrete and a little farther from the porch deck, for more evenly-spaced steps. The only issue there is that the porch's rim joist doesn't quite reach down far enough. I need to add some wood there.

Sounds good. Those old uneven risers are illegal and dangerous. However, be sure to use that formula I posted. There is a very small window of angles, rises and tread lengths that is both safe and comfortable to climb. If your rise is over 7.75" go to an extra stair. Making the treads too long so that you exceed a rise/run sum of about 17.75 may give you less steep stairs, but the stride length to climb them will be far too big and awkward for most people to climb. Ask me how I know!

Quote
deckeda
I'll look at metal brackets for below the stringers---I didn't know treated wood couldn't sit on concrete and don't recall seeing any pictures online like that. The old stringers were OK.

Most treated wood these days is not so rot resistant as in the past. Also, the pressure treating only goes part way into the board so that when you cut the end you leave the exposed untreated wood (which should be painted with wood preservative). If you do that you could probably be OK without metal brackets and have a fairly good lifetime if the concrete doesn't get too wet and is well drained, but water does eventually wick up from the porous concrete into the wood. That said, I'm a bit fanatical when it comes to rot proof exterior construction, having had to replace a fair number of improperly constructed decks and stairways, so maybe brackets are a little bit of overkill in some locations. Even stairsteps and keeping to the stair formula are much more important than that teensy bit of rot potential at the bottom of the stringers.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/17/2011 10:41PM by davester.
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