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Building a staircase for my new build house! Am I up to it??

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Pond

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Hello,

I posted a topic on here a short while ago, asking for anyone who can make me some sash windows for my new build house. Well I am now looking into the staircase (I haven't sorted the windows yet, just trying to sort out budgets).

I am intending to have a central free-standing staircase, with a single straight string in the centre of hallway. I want a cut string, not housed. I want it finished in ash or oak. I have received some budgets for the lot; that is the flight, bullnosed bottom step, spindles, newels and handrails for the staircase and a 360o gallery on four sides at the top, each run being approx 3.5m. The prices are horrific, ie £10k plus!!

So, I got a book from the library called 'building staircases'. It is quite informative, but is American, so not sure how relevant it is. I'm wondering whether I can make the stairs, possibly in laminated ply and framing timber, and finish the strings, treads, risers, etc in ash or oak? This will reduce cost and hopefully movement, helping 'squeaking'.

I'm thinking as i haven't got a lathe, I could make stop chamfered spindles. As it will be cut string, i don't need a base rail on the stairs. I could buy the newels, handrails and baserails for the gallery fairly cheaply and hopefully save about £8K!

I want it wider than standard, at about 1000-1100mm instead of 850-900mm. I am planning to use three strings, one in the centre.

My questions are:
As it will be free-standing will i need support posts to the floor at the first floor connection, or possibly 1/2 way up?
How can I calculate the thickness of timber to make the frame strong enough for the length, again as it will be free-standing?
Would a fourth string help with strengthening the whole thing?
Is there anything, apart from obviously getting the measurements right, conforming to building regs and physically making it that I, being an amateur, may struggle with?
As it is to be a real feature of the house, I am a little nervous of cocking it up. I have only made a kitchen, hi-fi cabinet and general construction woodworking before. i did renew the handrails and spindles on my existing stairs last year, but that was easy!!
Any advice, useful reading or general comments would be appreciated!

Ta
Andy
 

Pond

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I forgot to mention that the underside will not be framed, if that makes a difference!

thanks in advance

Andy
 

lincs1963

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I would get a price for solid ash, just bought enough to build a complete staircase (quarter turn at the bottom with landing) All solid treads, risers and strings, cost £360.
Not too far from you in the big scheme of things, timber from Somerscales of Keelby in Lincolshire.
 

Jacob

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I'd have a look at some of the older text books such as Ellis - cut string staircases were quite common and they really knew how to do it 100+ years ago.
Inner 'strings' are the norm but known as 'bearers'. You'd need two to stabilise it. Balusters were quite often dead plain just 1" square with every 4 or 5th one being iron and welded to a discretely concealed bracket to stiffen it all up. All painted so you wouldn't know.
The only difficult bit is the hand rail which were often 'wreathed', even on straight flights, to give an elegant continuous curve at the top and bottom. But there are ways to simplify this.

PS be suspicious of American woodwork books - some of the architectural ones are too dominated by the pioneering spirit. :roll:
 

Pond

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I like the more open look of cut string, especially as it will be free-standing and with a handrail/ balusters on both sides. We also are planning on carpeting the centre of the treads only, trying to achieve a mix of modern and traditional.
Cut strings look easier to make than housed, too, from what I have seen!

The jargon in the US is different, making it even harder to understand
 

Jacob

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Pond":2jw59i2q said:
......
Cut strings look easier to make than housed, too, from what I have seen!
They aren't, mainly because they are weaker (cos of the cuts) and you have to apply finishing details to the end of every tread. But they look nice, in Georgian houses especially
 

James-1986

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I served an apprenticeship at a staircase company plus a few more years. And as above, cut strings are not easier than housed staircases. More so if you're having a clear finish as all the joints and details need to be very neat. I always found cut strings with brackets easier when it comes to assembly, mitred strings take more practice (plus the joint can be tricky to cut). Using a small moulded beading under the nose of the tread can hide all sorts of mess :mrgreen:

I've always used 32mm strings, I've put carriages under staircases that are very long and have a bit of whip but we're talking 22 rises! Not too clear on the configuration of yours from the description but it doesn't sound unusually big.

Building regulations for the staircase will be part K.
 

marcros

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lincs1963":2im1jpit said:
.
Not too far from you in the big scheme of things, timber from Somerscales of Keelby in Lincolshire.
An excellent supplier. I am due a visit again soon to pick up some cherry and pippy oak.
 

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