How to build basement stairs on a budget.

Published: 29th August 2009
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Basement stairs come in all shapes and sizes from the very simple utility/access stair to the more elaborate decorative stairs where the basement is expanded to be a major part of the living area. One of the major issues facing the stair builder is the unpredictable overall stair height that often occurs with basement stairs. Whether new or existing construction, the basement slab height nearly always seems to vary up or down making pre-built stairs problematic. For this reason basement stairs are usually built to customized heights.

The normal procedure in the industry is to call out a stair specialist to custom build the stair using 2x12 cut stringers as framing for constructing the stair. This can be a difficult and costly process, requiring a high degree of skill. However, there is an easier solution available that will save you time as well as money. The system consists of self adjusting stair brackets, used to form an "engineered stair". Adjustable stair brackets are a custom tailored approach to stair building that are much faster, easier and stronger than conventional construction. They're a handy, low cost solution for the unpredictable slab height problem.

This bracket system can quickly form a basic utility stair or an elaborate, fully finished hardwood stair. The adjustable brackets basically do the work for you, making the whole stair building process simple and streamlined. The brackets are approved as adjustable joist hangers which allow the risers to be structurally attached to the stringers, carrying the load across the stair like stepping floor joists. This greatly enhances the strength of the stair and permits the stair to be built using only two stringers. The stringers themselves are full depth unlike cut stringers and are again engineered to carry much greater loads than conventional cut stringers. Only three to four end cuts are required per stringer which eliminates approximately seventy saw cuts when compared to conventional cut stringers for basement stairs.

A wide range of materials such as pine, MDF treads, hardwoods etc. can be used. Adjustable brackets allow for customized rise and tread configurations which can be adjusted to meet all building codes for any interior or exterior application.

This is how it works: Set the brackets on the two 2x6 stringer members using the spacers and pivot screws. Remove spacers and rotate brackets to adjust stair height. Fix brackets in position, attach risers and treads. See 3D basement stair video demos.

Before you begin, determine the material you are going to use, the exact number of steps you need and the stair width.

You will need (2) 2x6's per stringer for each side. Make sure when you purchase your 2x6's make sure that they are straight without any twist. The 2x6's will need to be at least 12" longer than the total length of your stairs. Two stringers are sufficient to span up to 9' in stair width due to the extraordinary strength developed by this engineered system.

For risers you will use 2x8's for riser heights up to 7-1/4" and 2x10's for higher risers. For treads you can use 2x12's, 5/4 pine or MDF, 5/4 hardwood, sturdy floor ripped to size etc.. Time saving tip: when you determine how many steps you will need and your stair width....get all your risers and treads pre-cut to exact lengths when you purchase the materials.

Tools/Materials needed will be: a power drill, saw (skill saw is preferable, but not required, #8 1 1/4" Phillips flat head or star/square drive screws for the stair brackets, #8 2 1/2" deck screws for every 9" of tread and riser connection and EZ Stair Spacers for customized riser and tread measurements.

Being ICC approved, the "Engineered Stair System" eliminates the need to cut stringers and is tested to be much stronger and faster than conventional construction. In fact, you can save at least $500 per flight of stairs with adjustable brackets over traditional construction methods. Whether you're a seasoned professional or a do-it-yourselfer, you will build fast, strong and accurate stairs, on a budget with this method.

For more information, visit the EZ Stair's website, or call 866-693-9570.


EZ StairsĀ® won Pro Sales Magazine's Editor's 2004 Choice award for new product innovation in construction. EZ Stairs' composite deck stairs compatibility solution was chosen for LBM Journal's 'Hot Products' Award at the 2005 and 2008 International Builders Show. It is the only adjustable stair bracket system available anywhere, ICC approved. Easy installation, strong and professional. For more information, visit the website, or call 866-693-9570. See EZ Stairs 3D demo and photos. Richard Truckner, author, holder of 12 plus patents in construction related products. Bachelor of Technology in Architecture; career spanning 40 plus years.


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