DC Rowhouse Renovation - Focusing on the inside: getting from floor to floor / by Gregory Upwall

View showing the main “stringers” in place

View showing tread support angles and secondary stringers in place

Welders working late into the night

The complete steel structure for the stairway with the temporary treads in place

With the house now protected from the elements we can start to focus on the inside. A first priority was getting the new interior stairs built so we can get from floor to floor without climbing ladders (finally). Since the stairway is designed as a focal point in the new house we spent time considering different options for the right material, evaluating each in terms of time required, appearance and budget. In the end, in order to achieve the look we wanted, we decided to use a custom fabricated steel design for the structural portions of the stairway and hardwood stair treads for the steps that will combine to give a modern look while the wood stairs will still give a warmer more residential feel to the stair. In order to keep fabrication and material costs from getting excessive (which can easily happen with custom steel fabrication), we chose to detail it with more readily available steel shapes, and detail the parts in a way to keep the fabrication and material costs lower than other similar custom steel fabrications.

 This is detailed and time-consuming work that requires focus and accuracy since each piece of steel must be cut and welded to the correct size and configuration in order for the stair to function properly and meet code requirements. From our three-dimensional BIM model of the house, we were able to develop detailed drawings with very precise dimensions that our steel fabricator used to build the stairs from.

 With the steel frame in place we have installed temporary wood treads for now that will remain in place while the remainder of the heavy construction gets completed. The temporary steps are a great strategy since they don’t need to be protected during the remaining construction phases. With this strategy the temporary stairs can take a beating and we don’t have to worry about them. The temporary wood treads don’t need to be precise or fine quality wood since they will eventually be replaced with the final hardwood treads that we will finish to match the hardwood flooring in the house. Once we get to the finishing phases of the project we will have the steel finished and painted and the final hardwood treads and handrail installed and sanded and finished. Can’t wait to see the finished product!