Friday, January 18, 2013

Newel post and stairs

Another prep detail that I needed to get done before the tile guy came in was the beginning of the stairs and the newel post. Typically the treads would carry on to the open edge but the outer edge on this one was done in a quick and dirty fashion with a sloping knee wall. The old newel post was really floppy as it was screwed only to the very short end of the knee wall which was only attached with a couple of Ramset nails to the concrete slab. I puled the drywall and re-braced the knee wall with some diagonals attached with 3 inch screws and few more Ramset nails in to the slab. Then after re-drywalling and a fair bit of fiddly trim work to get the first riser tied in tight across the front of the stair stringers and provide a solid side brace for the knee wall, I drilled the concrete slab and put in a half inch thick threaded bolt bedded in epoxy to tie down the base of the newel post.
Spent the greater part of the day on my knees....and I felt it by the end of the day.
here you can see the tie-down bolt that holds the bottom of the newel post secure to the concrete slab. The post does not move one millimeter.
and for Kev here is a shot of my home-made stair tread gauge.




7 comments:

  1. A good idea is to use the first 2 or 3 steps as drawers.

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    1. In a different scenario with a wooden structure deck, perhaps, but in this one were there are structural issues and questionable attachment to the concrete slab the risers and treads are actually structural members to stabilize the base of the stairs and the knee wall, so I'd be reluctant to try and add drawers or perforations of any kind.

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  2. Nice jig! Stairs over there are built differently to over here though by the looks. I normally only have to install ready made sets, just cutting them to length (I only get to make them on rare occasions). I take it that one was made on site at some point (not by you)? And with English stairs the treads are nearly always housed into the strings, with no middle string unless its a really wide set of stairs. Funny to see the differences.
    Looks like you did a good job of fixing that newel post down, it's always the one everyone swings on so it's got to be right!
    As for your knees I've taken to wearing the "plumbers" trousers with the foam pads in all the time. Much kinder to my knees but a bit hot in summer.

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    1. Yes this job is a remodel, so the stair stringers were built in as part of the original rough framing. There were some rough plywood treads and risers covered by carpeting I pulled up and went directly over the old stringers keeping the old skirt boards. Shimming the skirt board as I go to make up for any side gaps. The big part of the job was getting rid of the flex in the newel post and the knee wall it was attached to. Good thing because the client has 2 young pre-teen boys who you know are going to swing hard on that post. I'll have to look in to padded knees on my pants as I could not be bothered to wear knee pads. But my bigger problem is that I have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and repeated bending seems to cause aggravation. I am sure my reckless youth with multiple bike, skateboard, skating, motorbike and car accidents does not help at all. As a friend once said to me, if I were a horse you'd be licking me off the back of a stamp by now.

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  3. What kind of bit did you use to drill into the concrete for the newel and did the bolt come in a kit? We have the same issues and our post moves back and forth and it is installed on a concrete slab using one of those square brackets.

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    1. Here in the US the bolt down kit is available at Home Depot and Lowes. They come with the instructions and all the pieces needed including the wood plug. I can't remember if it came with the drill bit or we bought it separate. The drill bit is a regular masonry bit I think it was 1/2 inch diameter. Check the instruction son the kit first. To repair your loose newel post you will fist have to remove it carefully. Locate the post in place and trace around it with a pencil on the concrete. Mark the center of the square and drill 3 inches in to the concrete slab. I actually shortened the bolt before gluing it in to the cement. I think It was about 9 inches long and I cut about 3 inches off the bottom end. Clean out the hole well with compressed air or vacuum, and epoxy the bolt in place with JB Weld quick set epoxy. Drill the center of the post with an appropriate size bit. To do the side hole for the nut you will need an inch and a half Forstner bit. (also from Home depot) Don't use a paddle bit or you will bung it up. Spend the money on the Forstner bit. Let the epoxy dry 24-48 hours before tightening down.
      In addition to that I also had to rebuild the knee wall behind it. I puled off the drywall and re-fastend the studs together with long 3 inch screw so it would not flex as it was really flexible from 20 yrs of abuse. I also used a ram set to re-attach the bottom plate of the wall to the concrete slab. With a firm point on the slab and a solid wall behind it I was able to bolt through the base of the post 8 inches or so above the slab bolt in to the knee wall and had two good firm points to to tighten down the newel post. Came out real steady and never moved a mm. Hope all this makes sense. Measure twice and drill once. Proceed slowly and meticulously.Good luck.

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