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StairMASTERS Unite!

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by Steiner, Jul 12, 2009.

  1. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Is it just me or do stairs drive you nuts?

    I am terrible with fractions and math in certain areas. Maybe I am just anxious about getting it just right. I just don't have the math brain to do stair math easily. I usually end up getting out a piece of graph paper and laying everything out down to the last 1/4 of an inch. It just takes awhile.

    Tonight I have about 24" drop from the sliding glass door onto the patio. Here I sit calculating, figuring and checking. I know I want close to 7" stairs for the perfect rise, but I am using 6" versa-lok and I am only going to get a 6" rise. I always want to get that perfect rise and run to match exactly on every step.

    1. What do you guys do for stair? Any pointers?

    2. What are your tips? Rusk? Zedo?

    3. Where do you start? I always start on the finished grade of the patio and work from there. I divide the number by 6" rise and leave the remainder on the top landing. How do you guys go about this task? Maybe I am making a mountain out of a mole hill so to speak.
  2. orionkf

    orionkf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 122

    Don't feel bad, sometimes I do the graph paper thing too, especially with multiple sets of stairs, or multiple fixed points. I like to have it onsite to reference as well. I don't know if I've ever done it down to the 1/4" though.

    6" seems to be industry standard for steps, since most blocks are 6" or 8", and 8" is out of code in most places, so I wouldn't worry about them not being 7".

    I always start from a fixed point, usually the threshold of the house, although, if you have a landing or a stubborn fixed point at a lower elevation, you can do it the other way. To me though, adjusting the final elevation of the patio seems easier than doing 7" steps, but, circumstances may dictate otherwise.
  3. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Orion: Thanks for the quick reply. How many sets of stairs have you done over your career? Does it ever get to the point where you just show up on site, grab a tape and go?

    A few technical questions for the pro's.

    Can you leave the first rise from the patio to the first step shorter?

    Also what is the ideal drop out of a sliding glass door in the northeast? A few inches? 6?

    Does anyone have any in progress pics?

  4. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,173

    Are you going to put a stoop on that walkout? I would recomend at least a 4' wide stoop to step out on. I always calculate my rise/run based on the finish grades. A good rule of thumb, if you are going to have tall steps, ie.. 7"-8" rise, I would recomend going with a tread depth between them (about 2') If they are shorter 5"-6" rise, you could go with a 12"-16" tread depth. Just figuire out how much run or "depth" you are going to have for the staircase and the divide the desired rise into the finished grade height and this will give you the number of steps you need. You may need to tweek the tread height to get the desired results you want. If you need an extra inch or 2 of height on your treads, try mortaring down some cut natural flag over your segmental riser block. This willl give you the height you need and it looks pretty good too.

    Here is an example from one of my stairs about 6 years ago. Note cut stone over the treads.


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