Spiral Stair: Preparatory Construction Projects
Installing a spiral stair is, pretty often, not simply a matter of receiving and installing the stair in a space that’s already prepared in full. If your home or business is in the process of a significant renovation or new construction, then odds are that you have several other projects going on simultaneously. Or that you at least have a lot going on in the space where the stair is actually going to be installed.
Sometimes you may know that something needs done, but you’re not quite sure what. This could either be because you don’t know what to even check to make sure it’s prepared for the new stair or you simply don’t know how to do what you know needs done.
With this guide, you’ll learn a few basic key areas to identify for work that needs done so you can feel confident your space is in optimum order prior to your spiral’s arrival. You’ll also discover a few areas that, if you’re willing to do the work or have the work done, a spiral stair suddenly becomes viable where before it wasn’t.
One category of issues you may run into before your desire to install a stair can become a reality is that of obstructions in the form of walls that need removing. Luckily, interior wall removal can be done by most anyone with the right basic tools and a weekend of time. Especially when it comes to the most standard types of walls.
Wall removal can create a more open space, which is often the end goal of installing a minimalist spiral stair in the first place. Wall removal can also give you more options as for as which direction your entry points can face. Where before you were worried about having a wall in the way with your desired rotation, you now have nothing to stop you. Plus, wall removal can allow you to get a larger, thus possibly code-compliant, stair where before you may not have had the room.
Most every home has drywall anymore. The good news about that is that drywall is very easy to remove. It’s really just a matter of perforating the sections and prying them off the 2 x 4 boards with a pry bar. Basically the only things you have to check prior to removal is 1: making sure the utilities (water and electric) are off and that you know where the lines are (something that can be accomplished by obtaining the house plans from the local city authority), and two: making sure you’re not taking out a supporting wall. Just as a heads up, if this is a drywall directly beneath a traditional stair (that little triangle section) then it’s a faux wall and you don’t have to worry about any of the above.
Once you’ve accounted for both of these issues, careful removal of the wall is a simple matter any homeowner can accomplish in a weekend. Learning the specifics of how to do so is something easily done with a quick internet search for a good how-to guide.
If your home was built in the 50s or earlier, then you’re likely looking at a plaster wall instead of a drywall. Removing such a wall is no more difficult. It will be messier as plaster is applied in layers over thing horizontal boards and not in sections where each side is affixed to a vertical 2 x 4. Essentially, this wall is going to crumble away rather than come apart in neat, perforated rectangles. As with drywall, you still need to make sure it’s not a supporting wall and that there are no utilities.
Keep in mind that even if electricity does run behind the dry or plaster wall that you can follow the lines back to the nearest junction box and remove them. So even with electric running, if you’re industrious enough, you can still remove the wall. If there’s plumbing, removal will be much more difficult. If your heart is really bent on removal even with water lines in the way, consulting a professional is really your best option.
An interior brick or stone wall is going to be significantly more difficult than a dry or plaster wall. That isn’t to say that neither is doable, it will just create a much more arduous process. This is because, while a plaster or dry wall can essentially be pried or knocked off so long as there are no lines or supporting structures behind them, a brick or stone wall has to be removed one brick or stone at a time starting from the top and going down one row at a time.
The tools needed to remove a stone or brick wall are also more involved. And the mess that will be made during the removal process will also be significantly greater.
Basically, a masonry wall will involve several weekends rather than a single one. So while it can be done once you’ve educated yourself with the right how-to guides, it may be more of a project than you’re willing to invest in for that larger stair or more desirable entry point.
Mounting Surface Prep
Another likely scenario you may encounter as far as small construction projects go is that of mounting surface prep. Namely, the face of the upper floor the top of your spiral stair/platform is mounting to.
Sometimes this surface is already done, such as may be the case with something like a completed loft. But maybe there are a few issues to handle first before the surface is trustworthy.
If you’ve just removed a traditional straight stair to make room for your new spiral stair, then odds are that you have a bare support beam staring you in the face. If this spiral stair is intended for a cellar, attic, garage, or shed of any kind, then that beam may well remain bare. If the stair will be in a finished portion of the home, then you may want to cover it with some drywall before mounting the stair.
Either way, it’s prudent to check the beam while you can to ensure it is structurally sound before mounting the new stair. A beam doing the work of supporting a stair and upper floor is likely to face wear and tear faster than other supporting beams. It could have bowing/crowning, sagging, or cracking issues.
Each of the above three issues can be dealt with by anyone with the ability to put up some new lumber, operate a pneumatic jack, and apply some simple hardware.
A guide for tackling these issues would be very simple to find. Pretty much your task, unless your beam is crowning, will be to “sister” the beam with one of exact dimensions. If it’s sagging, use a hydraulic jack to raise the sagging portion of the beam to its original position, then, while the jack is still in place, affix your sister beam to the sagging one with the appropriate hardware. The same applies to cracked beams, just don’t use the jack first.
Crowning beams will have to be removed. Just make sure a temporary beams is being held in place by a jack and possibly a few “T”-post setups before removing the original beam. The affix the new one in place.
A highly likely scenario you may encounter before installing your spiral stair is the need to first remove the current means of egress you have erected in your space. Fortunately, stair removal is also a relatively simple project that can be accomplished in a weekend with basic tools.
Traditional Stair Removal:
A straight stair, especially a bare-bones one leading to a cellar, is a very simple structure to remove. It’s just a matter of removing railing, prying up tread and riser boards, and removing stringers. You may also have some carpet removal to deal with. Once you do remove the old stair, it’s advisable to check your now bare support beam to which the stringers were likely mounted.
Folding Ladder Removal:
Folding ladder removal is just a matter of taking steps to ensure the ladder won’t fall on you before removing the hardware securing it. Once the proper steps are taken, remove the hardware and then remove the ladder. Then you can have an attic stair.
With such structures as these removed and your spiral stair in place, you’ll have a means of traversing between floors that’s much more modern than traditional straight stairs and much more stable and reliable than a folding ladder. So taking on a project such as simple stair or ladder removal is worth taking the time to learn how to do.
Keep an Eye out
These are not the only categories of construction projects you may face in preparation of installing a stair, but they are some of the more common. Others include getting the proper foundation in place before erecting your stair.
To find anything else you can do you’ll just have to keep an eye out and learn how to identify projects you can do or afford to have done that will either make installing that spiral stair possible or just easier.
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