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Volume 3 Issue 1“Building Confidence”January 2005



I hope your start to this new year was a happy one. Welcome to the new members of our website and the new subscribers to this newsletter. Thanks to the old ones for hanging in there and for your support.

What's New

I added a new plan inspired from a custom plan from a member: Buffet and China Cabinet (see I added three new tips to the site. This is a little known backwoods area of our site, I'm afraid not too many of you are familiar with. Checkout the index page, near the bottom on the right hand side, below the Tables. There stands a lonely article called Some Helpful Tips (see Any more ideas for tips, please let me know.

I added a new series of Tables: Span Tables for Joists (see and Span Tables for Rafters (see

Dan updated the Customs Plan Page (see Now there is a little drop down list for you to choose categories from. Something to help me a bit better. Thanks, Dan.

Ask Away!

As promised in the last newsletter, I'm going to devote this entire section to one question. As you will soon realize, this question involves a project that covers the majority of questions I get on a daily basis from members of our website.

I am a DIYer and was so pleased to find your site.  I'm hoping my
membership will be a wise investment.  Here's my question...
I am wanting to build an L-shaped interior staircase that will connect
my kitchen to the bonus room over our garage.  This staircase would be
in our garage area which is wide enough to handle it.  The garage is 22'
in depth and I was thinking I could build a 6 1/2' in length landing
that would come out my kitchen door and then go up about 12 steps,
build another landing that will need to be about 6 1/2'.  Then turn
the stairs for the last 4 steps up into the room.  The stairs would
run along the exterior walls of the garage.  My question relates to
the opening/framing that I'll need to do.  I'm not sure how I need to
support the joists I'll have to cut to make the opening for the
staircase, in particular, where they connect to the exterior wall.
The joists are running perpendicular to the main section of the stairs.

[Dave's reply]
Hi. Sorry for the delay in getting back with you, I've been on a short

I'm not clear on your question. Is the kitchen in a separate building
from the garage or adjoining?

The way I figure it, you are coming along side the garage on the outside
of the wall, going up the wall and entering above the floor level.
Like an exterior stair coming off a second floor. This way you will make
an opening in the wall, not the floor.

The other scenario is coming through the wall on an adjoining garage,
going up the exterior wall on the inside of the garage and making an
opening in the second floor.

This is a drawing of a typical stair opening in the floor. Notice the joists are doubled up on each side of the opening and the ends are supported off these joists. Intersections are supported with joist hangers. If you could draw me a picture of your scenario and include the total rise and runs, I could help you more. Dave ----------------------------------- Dave, Here are some drawings I hope will help. I really appreciate your advice. It would probably be worth my money to have you do some drawings for me to insure I don't mess this up! ha! If you're willing, what would you need from me in terms of info. I could send digital photos, etc. Thanks again. Art [Dave's reply] Hi Art, The drawings are really good. I have a good idea of what you want to do and sounds like a good idea. I'll draw up a sketch for you so you'll know what size risers and treads and the stair opening. Dave ----------------------------------- Dave, Wow! I'm impressed with your prompt reply! Please let me know if you need any measurements, etc. I have used your stair calculator and have come up with some preliminary numbers. I'll be curious to see how they match up with yours. A couple of things that could be helpful. It may not be clear on my drawings, but I'm needing to turn the top 3 or 4 steps of the staircase to get ample head clearance in the room above. The sloped ceiling along the exterior wall makes that necessary. The landing where the stairs turns will be above the exterior door in the garage and i was thinking I could support it with a large post. The three other corners will obviously be nailed to the exterior wall studs. If you need any digital pictures, I can certainly provide them to you. I have already constructed the "L " shaped landing coming out from the kitchen door in the garage area and it turned out very nice. I made it 9' 9" long ( which should be more than long enough to accomodate the bottom of the stair stringers) and the appropriate width to accomodate 36" ( finished wall to finished wall ) stairs. Dave, thanks again for your help. This is so awesome to have someone who can provide some advice....even from such long distance. Art [Dave's reply] Hi Art, Thanks for the pics. The work in the pictures look good, like you have a good idea of what you are doing. Since you mentioned the wall on the edge of the 9'-9" landing or platform, it should support the 36x48 landing in the corner. Then the stringer should sit on top of this landing and against the upper floor for support. The overhead door will be in the way, otherwise.You should extend your lower landing according to the drawing, a bit. I allowed a foot for the stringers to be supported on the landing. You should get everything from the drawing. I figured 16 rises at 7.47" and 15 runs at 10.5" the corner landing is considered one run.

Notice the red outline for the opening, This gives you about 84" headroom, going to the next step wouldn't be enough. The length given at 22'-3" is 267 not 264. If there is a variation of measurements, just go from the corner back towards the kitchen door. Just a rough measurement from the upper floor to the sloped roof, if the roof pitch is 5/12 then the clearance at the top of the step is about 79" which should be okay with the 3 steps and 4 risers as shown on the drawing. The wall you put up around the opening will help support the floor, so do this before you start cutting out the opening. A reciprocating saw is a good tool for this type of job. I like to use a 12" blade on mine. Can't think of anything else, so just ask if I can be of any further help. Dave ----------------------------------- [I answered Art's next questions in the body of his email.] Morning Dave, Thanks for the great drawing and the advice. I do believe we're on the same page, sort of speak. I spent some time with the drawing last night and I think I'm about to get a clear picture of what I need to do. I do have a couple of questions for now and then I'll try to leave you alone. I'm hoping to spend the weekend working on the project. Questions: 1) With regard to attaching the new wall to the garage floor, is there a best method? I don't have any equipment to do this, but could rent if needed. [Dave's answer] The best method is to rent a Hilti gun which shoots a concrete nail through the plate into the concrete. Use a 2 1/2" nail every stud space. --------------------- 2) Should I cut away the sheetrock on the ceiling of the garage to attach the wall I'm building? I was thinking since this is going to support the joists up above, not removing the sheet rock could give some room for the joists to sag if I don't get a tight, direct, wood-to-wood connection. [Dave's answer] Exactly, I thought at first why bother just to attach a wall to the ceiling, but as you say it is more than that. This wall is now a load bearing wall and should be treated as such. Carefully, scribe a line where the wall will be and remove the drywall from this line right across to the exterior wall, where the opening will be. Put on a double plate, too. When installing this wall, don't nail the bottom plate on the studs, as usual. Fasten the bottom plate onto the floor with a Hilti gun, that way when you stand up the wall, kick the studs on an angle to lower the height of the wall. When the wall is in position kick the studs straight and toenail them into the bottom plate with 2 - 2 1/4" nails from each side of the stud. This is equivalent to 2 - 3" nails driven through the plate. This method gets a nice tight fit rather than tilting up the wall and bashing it with a sledge hammer. --------------------- Your comments about the new wall from the garage floor supporting the landing over the door makes a lot of sense. I'm thinking I could just beef up the end of the wall with a couple of 2X4s nailed together. These would support the corner of the landing up above. Am I thinking correct? [Dave's answer] Yes, watch the opening of the man door, if it is 3' wide it may be tight. What you could do is come up to the side of the landing with the wall and place a jack stud or cripple under the rim joist of the landing, nailed to the full length stud beside it. Hopefully you will have enough room for the door to swing. If not you can hang it from the upper floor joists. I've hung plenty of scalfolds from underneath docks and from overhead cranes, I'll show you if you don't have the room. One thing, when placing wood on concrete, such as a bottom plate, always separate the wood from the concrete. We use a product called a sill gasket. It comes in 3 1/2" and 5 1/2" widths. Otherwise use some roofing felt. This prevents moisture from getting under the wood and rotting it. The problem is it comes in large rolls, but is not expensive. Just roll the gasket out on the bottom of the plate and staple it in place. --------------------- I have some additional questions relative to the opening, particuarly the double joists you show in the ceiling drawing you sent, but I can deal with that when we get a little farther along. I have plenty of work to do before I'm ready for that! [Dave's answer] Just remember that you are getting your support off the side joists of the opening, which have to be doubled up to take the extra load. Then everything is coming off them. If the tail joists are over 6' long then double up the header too, to support them. Just ask specific questions when you get to the stage. --------------------- Dave, thanks again. I can't tell you how great it is to have someone of your ability guiding me along. It is very reassuring and encouraging. I've already spread the word about you to a couple of my DIY buddies. [Dave's answer] Thanks, are you signed up for our free newsletter? I'm about to put another one out for Dec. actually. My little holiday made me late. Oh, well!! We have archives on the site if you missed them. They are generally about questions from members of our site and my answers. You will probably be in a future one - Jan. ---------------------------------------------------------- Dave, It's Monday...and I'm back!! ( Sounds like a horror movie title to me!! ) Well, I made some progress this weekend. Not as much as I had hoped, but I had promised to do some other things first. As with any progress, it seems I have more questions. 1) In opening up the ceiling area I found a couple of things. It appears that the exterior wall that has the man door and garage door is constructed of 2x4s on the first floor and 2x6 on the second story. I think this is due to there being brick on the first floor and vinyl siding on the second story. I attached the two 2x12s that are part of the landing that connect to the exterior walls. I removed the sheet rock and nailed to the wall studs. While this landing is still in my first story space, what will I need to do about the variation in the wall thickness up above. I'm invisioning a small "ledge" area on the wall as you go up those last 3 steps...correct? 2) As to "what comes next?" I've constructed the wall that will connect to the garage floor as you instructed. That made complete sense! However, I have not attached the bottom plate yet. Does it make sense to finish constructing the landing and support it with a temporary post, then install the wall? That way if I've made any mismeaurements I won't have any problem connecting the two. 3) In building the landing, could I use metal corner braces on the inside of the joints? Since I've already nailed the two boards that are on the exterior walls, I very well can't nail them together as usual. Will this be strong enough? 4) Last one for this looks like a good portion of the exterior wall that the stairs will run along is not insulated. What would you recommend here....and please don't tell me I have to remove the drywall!! Thanks Dave. Hope your week is off to a good start. I'll try to send some pictures next time along with my questions if that is helpful. Art [Dave's answer] Hi Art, Progress is good. The 2x4 and 2x6 scenerio with the brick sounds right. I would also guess that the garage is unheated and not insulated. The upper part probably is. Since there is a 2" difference, you could strap the garage exterior wall and insulate it with 1 1/2" styrofoam and new drywall to match the upper floor or leave it. You may want to wall the entire stair opening on the upper floor and install a door to keep the warm air in and the cold down below. Mind you, it will be cold going from the bonus room to the kitchen. The best thing to do is to strap and insulate the outer wall and insulate the 2x4 wall opposite it and insulate the floor. If insulating the entire system remember to put the vapour barrier on the warm side of the room. I would finish off the end of the opening at the exterior door end, first, so you know the measurement to go back to where the stairs will start on the long landing or at least know what you are going to do to plan for it. All the measurements I gave you on the drawings are relative to the position of the finished outside end wall. Remember the long wall in the garage will hold up the floor joists above it while you are cutting out the opening. Use your metal corner braces and joist hangers on the piece nailed to the wall. For extra strength, I always toenail the joist in, with 3" nails, first, before installing any hangers or corner braces. Dave ---------------------------------------------------------- Dave, Good morning! The landing and wall fit like a glove. I finished putting them in last night with the help of my two oldest teenage boys. Couple of quick quesitons: 1) Do I need to install some horizontal 2x4 bracings between the studs on the garage floor wall? Any guidelines? 2) Relative to insulation...will it be necessary to put a poly barrier on these walls? Since they are in the garage area I wasn't sure. I'm hoping to get the electrical run and the insulation and wall board up before week's end. Thanks Dave. I've said it a hundred times, but thanks! Your help thus far has been incredible. Art [Dave's answer] Hi Art, Family is great, isn't it. 2x4 blocking between studs is not necessary unless the wall is over 10'. If you are going to insulate the wall then yes, vapour barrier is applied to the warm side of the wall. We usually don't vapour barrier the floor since we cover it with a carpet or lino which acts like a vapour barrier in itself. The worst thing is to put vapour barrier on the cold side of the floor to hold the insulation in. Better to use strips of wood, etc. nailed to the underside of the joists to keep the insulation up. I appreciate your gratitude, it makes my job all worthwhile!! Dave. ------------------------------------------------------------ [I answer Art, below in the body of his email.] Dave, I'm at a point to cut and install the stringers for the stairs. A couple of clarification questions. I've been pouring over your article and it is very help. 1) When attaching my stringers to the two side walls, it is my understanding that I can nail through the exisiting sheet rock to the studs on the exisiting wall. Correct? [Dave's answer] Correct, use 3 1/2" nails or screws would be better -------------------- Also, I'm not real clear on the "ledger" board you talk about being nailed to the bottom of the stringer. I can understand the thinking, as the drywall for the new wall I've built can rest on this ledge. Is it attached on the side of the stringer or on the bottom? I'm thinking it will be on the side of the stringer and then I'll nail through the stringer and 3" ledger board into the wall studs. Correct ? [Dave's answer] Correct. I don't remember mentioning a ledger board. What you are referring to, I think, is a 3" strip of 5/8" or 3/4" plywood nailed to the side of the stringer along the bottom on the wall side. The stringer with strip would then be nailed onto the studs, on new construction, only. This 5/8" or 3/4" gap left between the studs and the stringer would make it easier to slip the drywall between the stringer and the studs, later, rather than have to cut out the shape of the stringer later when putting on the drywall, if no strip was there. A ledger board is used as an extra support to hold joists or a stringer up. A ledger would be nailed onto the studs or drywall and into the studs under the stringer to give some extra support, rather than relying on the bottom of the stringer nailed into the studs alone to support the weight. Another way to help support the stringer, which is the better way, is to place a vertical 2x4 on the flat under the stringer down to the floor. On a short stringer, such as yours, only one or two posts are usefull. This really helps take the bounce out of the stringer. ---------------------- 2) I'm going to install hardwood on these steps, so what material would you suggest for the riser and threads? [Dave's answer] The treads should be 3/4" thick hardwood, pre-finished or not. the risers need only be 1/4" to 1/2" plywood in the same wood as the hardwood. Actually some prefer painting the riser, even with hardwood treads. ---------------------- 3) Do you see a problem having a different rise on the two sections of my staircase? Since I have the room on the bottom landing, I was thinking about a 6.5" rise and keeping the 10.5" run we've already discussed. Any problem with my thinking? I realize I'll need to keep the upper steps at the measurement you already provided or I'll have to increase my opening, which I don't want to do. [Dave's answer] Personally, I wouldn't do that. I prefer to have the risers on both sides of a landing the same. This is not a code requirement, just the way I do things. I think people will find it confusing to change riser heights when walking up or down stairs. The riser I gave you is not too high for a residence. I don't like a riser less than 7" for a home. They go down to 6" for a commercial building where a lot of seniors are expected to use the stairs. 7 5/8" is the standard rise in a house. That's why the standard is 7 5/8", most houses have limited space and most people want to get up the stairs quicker. ---------------------- 4) I'll be putting the decking on my upper landing tonight. I'm thinking I'll need to extend the plywood decking one inch at the top of the stairs so it will match the treads when I install them. Correct? [Dave's answer] No, if you are putting hardwood on the stairs you don't want a nosing on the sub-floor. The nosing will come with the hardwood installation. Refer to my article on this: ------------------------ Hope you're staying warm. I plan to send you some picture prior to my opening up the ceiling as I have some questions relative to how I need to reinforce the opening. I think the pictures will help.Yes, pictures are always good Dave, I forgot to ask...Do I need more than two stringers? The stairs are 36" wide. I'm building out of 2x12s. Art [Dave's answer] If the treads are 2x12 then only two stringers are required. For the risers use 5/8" or 3/4" plywood and put them on first. Then rip your treads to width, no nosing. Use construction adhesive when nailing or screwing down the treads and risers to prevent squeaks. Also nail or screw and glue the risers to the back side of the lower tread. Start at the bottom working up the stairs. Not to worry about the different heights in the risers, to start and finish, as long as the landings and upper floor are also covered in the same thickness of hardwood. I would suggest you paint or clad, with 1/4" hardwood, the stringer sides, before installing the hardwood. Dave --------------------------------------------------------- Dave, I thought about this just before I got your emails. With regard to a skirt on each side of the this the "cladding" you mentioned...out of plywood? The skirting would obviously extend above the steps, which is what we want, but won't that require me to put a larger strip along the bottom for the drywall to rest on. Is this making sense? Art [Dave's answer] Hi Art, You brought up a good point. The skirt is actually called a closed stringer. If you want a closed stringer up the wall on both sides then you attach that onto the stringer first. If the drywall is installed on one side and not the other as in your case. (I think you have drywall on the outside wall but not the new wall.) Then the closed stringer which can be ripped to width from plywood or solid board is installed on the stringer, wall side, first. For the new wall without drywall, install onto the stringer, first the closed stringer, then a 1/2" plywood strips to pack out the width for the drywall when installed. You need to get the thickness of the closed stringer the same on both sides of the wall when the drywall is installed. Here is a drawing of what I'm talking about.

The strip in the left drawing is needed only to be able to slip the drywall past the risers and tread on the stairs. The drawing on the right shows the closed stringer, but since the closed stringer has a nice straight edge to measure to with the drywall, it doesn't need to have a strip to pack it out so the drywall can slip between it and the stud. Clear as mud, right? Dave --------------------------------------------------------- Dave, I've loved mud since I was a young boy! Seriously, this makes perfect sense. The drawings help tremedously. I'll keep you posted. Art [Dave's answer] Okay, you should like drywalling if you like mud!! --------------------------------------------------------- Dave, of my least favorite things! Well....the stringers turned out great last night. The cross section drawing you sent on the closed stringer was exactly what I needed. Once again....Dave comes through!!!! Dave, when I attached the top of the stringer to the landing I only had about 4 inches of the stringer touching the this correct? The joist on the landing is 2x12, and by the time I lower the stringer down to the measurement of the rise it results in only a small amount connecting. I attached the stringer to the new wall studs and it seems very secure. My laptop, which has my digitial camera software on it, was accidentally dropped by a co-worker and is being repaired, thus no photos yet. I'll hopefully send those over the weekend. I'm going to need your help in thinking through the ceiling. It is extremely satisfying to see this thing coming together! Enjoy this Friday. Art [Dave's answer] Hi Art, I hope you allowed for the thickness of tread when installing the stringers. From the top landing measure down the rise plus the thickness of the tread. This compensates for the thickness of the tread that you cut off the bottom of the stringer. Then when the treads are installed everything works out well. Don't expect the top of the riser to be supported only by nails. You should have a 2x4 post (that I was talking about, yesterday) underneath it as well to support it. Failing that use joist hangers. You need to use joist hangers on the upper stringer since the overhead door will be in the way for a post. With the walls on each side, the stringer should be pretty secure, by nailing into the studs, too. Sorry about the laptop. My brother Dan, my webmaster, has one of them. When he goes on a trip, I never know the difference. He emails me from some restaurant in Montana. I'm taking a couple of weeks off during Spring break, but that will be with my daughter and family, so I can still access my email. I'm in a business where I can never go away and just leave it. Folks like you make it all worthwhile. Dave --------------------------------------------------- Dave, I believe I did it correctly. I have not put the decking on the top landing yet, so I just measured down the exact rise, 7.47 on the joist. If I'm thinking correctly, the decking thickness on the landing and the tread thickness will cancel each other out, sort of speak. The same for the hardwood on the landing and the hardwood I'll put on the tread. Make sense? (Oh dear Lord, tell me I'm correct ...) With regard to joist there a special hanger for stringers? I think I've seen something at our local Home Depot. With regards to a post support, I'll review your email again to be clear. Having only seen a couple of pictures, you sure remember all the details of my particular situation. You can probably tell from my comments about the drawings you've done that I'm a visual learner myself! Alright my friend...after this many emails you qualify as family.... I'll be in touch. And if I've miscalculated the rise at the top........HELP! Art [Dave's answer] Wow, you did good!! I usually have my landings finished with a 5/8" plywood that is scrap from the main sub-floors, so I have to be careful. In your case you need to add the landing in the same material as the treads, which is okay. Did the bottom of the stringer come down on the finished landing height? And did you cut the bottom of the stringer off? Dave, ----------------------------------------------------- "You did good".....makes me think of my of his many sayings! Bottom stringer came out exactly as your drawings. Dave, you are the man! ( another of my dad's) I allowed for the hardwood at the bottom of the stringer and it works perfectly. The landing and the treads will be in 3/4" ply, which is what I've used on the bottom landing. Then all the surfaces have the same subflooring for the hardwood. At the bottom of the stairs, I am thinking that I'll allow room for the hardwood flooring and deduct that from my riser trim board on the bottom step. That way I can run the hardwood up against the bottom of the stringer and the edge of my wood flooring will be concealed by the riser board...make sense? [Dave's answer] Why not install the hardwood on the bottom landing first then work your way up the stairs? One thing to consider when installing hardwood to stairs with a 'sub-floor' already on is that the addition of a riser, unless very thin, brings the nosing out a ways without support. I like to make sure that the riser of the hardwood is supported on the tread or floor below and comes up flush with the tread above. This gives added support for the nosing.

Notice the backing for the 1 1/2" tread. This is needed only in the center of the tread to keep the riser from going in. All these joints should be glued as well as nailed or screwed. If the riser is 1 1/2" too no need for the block, just nail it together. A 1 1/2" riser really is not necessary though. I noticed these drawings that may help, when going through my file. Dave

----------------------------------------------------- Dave, I think I'm with you. You always seem to make me think of additional questions. I am planning to have painted risers and skirtboards, with hardwood threads. As you will remember, I have 36" wide stairs, only two closed stringers of 2 x 12s. Do I need to have some type of sub-riser to support the riser due to the distance? I had thought I would use 1/2 " ply on the risers and 3/4 ply on the treads. Am I going to be ok with 3/4 ply treads spanning the 36 inches? I was planning to install the risers and then the treads as you instructed and then do the hardwood part later on in the project. Make sense or am I all wet? Art [Dave's answer] Yes, you should have a sub-riser as the initial construction of the stairs. This riser is nailed to the back of the tread and helps support it in the middle of the span between stringers. Then it provides backing for the hardwood or painted riser later. That is why I put in the little backing block in the drawing. This supports the center of the sub-riser at the top. It is pretty hard to nail through a 1 1/2" piece into a 3/4" piece, thus the backing block. It should be about a foot long or so, it doesn't have to go full length. The riser is nailed well to the stringers and the tread at the bottom and this block at the top. Without the sub-riser, there should be three stringers to support the tread in the middle. With the sub-riser the span shifts from 36" width of stairs to 10 1/2" width of tread. The upper riser supports the tread for its full length at the back and the lower riser supports the tread for its full length at the front. Are you saying that you are not using 2x12 for treads for the sub-treads and 3/4" hardwood treads? Dave ----------------------------------------------------- Dave, I was a little confused about your last instructions...purely my fault. At any rate, I started working on Friday night before this last email and made the decision to install a third stringer. No big deal after doing two. I install 1/2" sanded plywood on the risers and 3/4" ply on the treads. Glued and screwed as you instructed and the stairs are as solid as a rock! I was in the Home Depot store on Saturday and picked up a couple of joist hangers. When I was explaining what I needed, he made the comment..." if every builder in this city built stairs like you are....they'd stand forever and never have a squeak!" I gave a plug for your website! Anyway...I'm running the electrical and should be ready to discuss removing the ceiling in a few days. I want to at least get the garage side sheetrock in place to cut down on the cold air. I'll send som pictures and we'll discuss...probably on Tuesday. Thanks Dave. Hope you enjoyed a great weekend. Art [Dave's answer] Hi Art, With 3/4" treads there should be a center stringer, unless you design the risers special to hold up the back of the tread. No problem. Thanks for the plug!! Looking forward to the pictures. Dave ----------------------------------------------------- Dave I'm sending two emails with pictures. I've had a devil of a time attaching these so I hope they get there. I'm pretty proud of "our" ( yours and mine) project thus far. It thrills me to see the progress after I've spent some time working.

The second set of photos includes some shots of the joists and flooring I'll be removing on the second floor. As you can see, one of the joists above my landing is already doubled up..I'm not sure why. Anyway, I understand from your earlier email why I'll need to double up the joist and then run a doubled 2x12 joist perpendicular over to the wall above the garage. (This is where my steps will actually connect to the upstairs floor.) In the photo you can probably tell that the opening is falling between two of the joists. How will I need to address this in doubling up the joist? Am I to make the opening larger over to the existing joist? Also...when I double up the joist...I can't run the doubled joist the width of the garage, so how far back should I double? Is this making any sense? I hope to get the sheetrock on the garage side in place after work this week and be ready to cut through the ceiling, using the reciprocating saw. How is the best way for me to insure straight cuts through the joists and into the flooring above? Should I cut the joists off even with the wall? Of all that I've done thus far, this part is the most unnerving....!!! Art [Dave's answer] Hi Art, Thanks for the pictures which came through well. You may have a slight set back with your floor joists, now that they are exposed. Don't get in a dither or anything, we will just have to do a bit more involved work than planned. Could you answer a few questions for me. I suspect the front floor joists for the attic are cantilever out and support the wall and roof. In other words, the outside wall above the man door has a jog in it at the floor level of the room above. How far does this jog come out from the face of the wall? We have to make a decision to either put in double joists from the top or the bottom. I won't go any further until you let me know. Dave ----------------------------------------------------- they say...a picture is worth a thousand words! I'm staying calm and have confidence you can solve the issue. The joists are in fact notched out on and rest on the exterior wall that run the length of the stairs. The wall area above the man door sets back approximately 6". ( I'll measure again during lunch). I had mentioned this earlier about how it looks like the garage door/man door wall is 2x6s and the side wall of the garage is 2x4s. The bonus room was finished out prior to our buying the house and it does in fact run out to the wall. You may remember that I mentioned the need for a "ledge" or something to address the fact that the upstairs wall is not flush with the downstairs... on just that one wall. I hope this helps. I can send additional pictures if you need them for clarification. Thanks Dave. Art [Dave's answer] Hi Art, I remember the inside jog, I'm talking about the exterior face of the man door wall. On the outside of the building is the wall flush straight up or is there a jog in it at the upper room floor height? I'm trying to determine why that double joist is there. A picture of the outside wall on the front and side would be good. If there is a jog there, could you measure it or estimate it. Is this the way it looks on the outside wall in the drawing, below?

Dave ----------------------------------------------------- Dave, The wall is straight up flush on the exterior...and in the garage for that matter. There is brick on the first floor and vinyl siding above. I'll take some pictures this afternoon and try to email them to you tonight. I had the same question when I opened the ceiling...why they would double up the joist and go at 90 degrees out to the wall. I'll also take a few more closeup shots now that you have a good perspective of what I'm dealing with. I'll also take some exact measurements of anything that isn't moving! Art [Dave's answer] Weird eh?. Maybe hold off on putting up the last sheet of drywall on the wall to close in the stairs. We may have to remove drywall from the inside of the garage on the ceiling to get those double joists in there so leave room to reach around the wall for installing joist hangers, etc. I'll know more when I receive your pictures. Are the floor joists 2x12? When sending pictures on the email, if using Outlook Express: Save your pictures on the hard drive on your computer, remember the file and name of the picture Go to email and click on Insert Click on Picture Click on browse, this will take you to your computer files Find the name of the picture, highlite i, click on open, click on ok Picture should appear in the email. Dave ----------------- Okay, Art, I got the pictures, thanks. It's not as bad as I thought. You should be able to get away without putting in any long joists. Here is the drawing of the framing for the opening:

First put in a temporary 2 stud wall to support these 2 joists (marked with the solid blue line) Now you can start cutting out the floor joists, use a chalk line and allow for the back side of the joist - 1 1/2" back from the framed opening line as shown on your drawing, previously sent. Snap this line on the bottom of the joists, get a combination square or the like and square up the joists where you will cut the joists off. This line is again 1 1/2" in from the edge of the face of the studs and around the opening. Rather than cutting the exterior wall joists out, just cut the joists out at the red rectangle and see if they come out right to the rim joist. You will be fighting nails from the sub-floor as well as spikes from the rim joist. Then you can just put in blocks from the rim joist to 1 1/2" inside the wall stud line. All these blocks will do is to help support the wall bottom plate and keep the inside box joist for the opening from going in too far into the wall cavity. The opening should have a 2x12 box joist all around it. Allow 3" for the double joist header at the head of the stairs when cutting out these joists. This double header should go tight to the joist shown ( red circle) and tight to the rim joist on the outside of the wall. This is the critical member which will support the 2 long joists. If this opening were made during new construction, we would double up the joist (marked with the red circle), but you should be able to get away without since it is close to the wall you put in and only supporting two joists. These three points marked with the red circle and the red oval should have joist hangers on them, one single and 2 doubles. The joists marked with the red rectangle don't need any joist hangers since they are supported by the wall you built so well. The joist marked at the green line may or may not be close to the end of the opening. If it is really close, within a couple of inches one way or the other, just make this the end of the opening. The position of this end isn't crucial, not like the head of the stairs, which of course should be right on. Well, that's all I can think of right now. Later, Dave ----------------------------------------------------- Dave... Good morning. I've pored over this and maybe these questions are more clear than those I sent last night. On the exterior wall that runs along side the staircase, am I understanding that I will cut the joists off even with the wall studs and then block in between each wall stud with 2x12s? It looks like the framing is primarily resting on the double plate at the top of the first floor so I'm not clear if this blocking is needed. The part I'm most unclear about is where to cut the joists that will be resting on the new wall that you have in the read rectangle. Your directions about the 1 1/2" part is what I'm unclear about. Is this 1 1/2" beyond the new wall toward the opening or short of the opening? The later would leave about 2" of joist resting on the wall. If not then I think I would end up with a "bump out" of the 1 1/2" on the wall where the top and bottom floors meet...correct? I apologize if I'm wearing you out with my questions about this part. Trying to communicate in writing is a challenge sometimes...its a monologue, sort of speak.....a delayed dialogue for sure! Thanks for being a patient teacher. Art [Dave's answer] Good morning, Art, First, you seem unsure of the cutting of the joists at the red rectangle. Let's go with a drawing, then:

This is a section of the floor cut out across the opening and looking in the direction of the kitchen. I think this should explain everything, even the handrail bottom rail placement. I threw in a little crown molding for the 2" jog which is optional, of course. On the exterior wall side the blockings I referred to would be 1/2" strips, just to keep the box or rim joist from moving towards the other box joist. You could nail this 2x12 tight up against the other one and finish the opening off with the 1/2" strips on the outside with drywall covering everything. This may be the better option for insulation value. I hope I got the jog right in the upper floor. The box joist helps support the upper 2x6 wall. Good show on the green joist ending the opening, one less joist to cut. The floor joists being 2x12 were designed for a floor up there, alright, unless they changed them themselves. Maybe the house framers were trying to save money by not putting the sub-floor in at that time. Who knows? Maybe put a strip of 6 mil vapour barrier along the floor and up the wall just under the baseboard, bedded in acoustical caulking. Then put the carpet back over it. This will seal the gap off if it is 1/2" wide or so. Dave ----------------------------------------------------- Ok. I'm with you! A good picture, like the ones you draft, answers lots of questions and clears up the mud! With regard to the 2X6 wall you have drawn...that wall is 2x4...its only the wall above the man door that is a 2X6. The upstairs wall just extends upwards on top of the double plate from the first floor. I've attached a photo of that wall for you if you need to instruct me any differenly. The main question was the cutting of the joists that sit on the new wall and it is what I thought.. The wife is SO pleased with the progress....she gives a lot of credit to my remodeling "partner"! Thanks Dave....I'll keep you posted. I'm going to be busy with some other obligations til early next week so my remodeling time will be minimal. God Bless Art [Dave's answer] Okay, Art, I'll leave you to it for now. Understand about the jog, that explains better the double joist and the cantilever over the brick wall. I'm about to put out another newsletter and would like to feature your project in it. Is this okay? Your first name, only, is used and no email addresses, of course. I think our members would be interested in your job. I hope you are signed up for the newsletter!! By the way, you forgot to attach the picture. Dave ----------------------------------------------------- Dave, I hit the button too soon, so it is on the way to you. I'd be honored to be included in the newsletter. My project is certainly a testimony to your perserverance...and patience. I got your last newsletter, thanks to Dan's good work, and noticed your reference to the January project...had a feeling that was me. You are welcome to use any pictures I've sent if that's helpful. You ever need a testimonal from a satisfied customer, I'm your man. In a world where so many scams are out there, it is encouraging to find a true gentleman who is the "real deal". By the way, I was doing a little snooping and read the talk given at your dad's memorial service early this morning. Sounds like he was a Godly man, a real blessing. He was a fine man from the fruit that I've experienced through you! God bless. I'll talk to you soon. Art [Dave's answer] Wow! you got me going there, talking about Dad. Thanks for the compliment. Yes, he was a Godly man and well respected by those on both sides of the spiritual fence. If you want to delve deeper, checkout the Poem written by my daughter Jacqui by following the links. That is a real tear jerker. I actually had a guy email me from Ireland who was searching the web on Granduc Mines. He found our website, where I mentioned I worked up there. He had lost his brother up there at the time I was there and wanted info. This internet is something else.

Back to work: Good picture, this shows me that the framers used OSB instead of a rim or box joist of 2x12. Not a good thing, but I also notice they have a vertical 2x4 supporting the upper wall plate. Without this 2x4 the wall above is only supported on the ends of the joists and you will be removing some of them to make your stair opening. I prefer the rim joists of the same width and thickness as the main joists. They hold the joists vertical, like bridging, to prevent the joist from twisting over under load. Maybe the building inspector required them to add these pieces in later including the 2x4 block at the top for this exact purpose. You could check this out at the town hall where they keep records of this stuff. Nothing to worry about, on your part, though, for the integrity of the house. We just have to fix this stuff up when we do renovations so the house still has its integrity. When things aren't done conventionally, I find it is harder to get to the final stage without having to second guess everything along the way. Another option you have is to put in vertical 2x4s, like in the picture every 16" on center, like a small wall, then cover it with the drywall. Saves on the cost of a 2x12 box joist. I believe by looking at the picture the 2x12 woudn't fit anyway, due to the joists being notched there. The point here is that the wall above needs solid support right down the wall to the foundation. Remember, we are not only talking about the wall we are concerned by the load on the roof, which is supported by the wall, which is supported by the vertical 2x4, etc, etc, right down to the concrete foundation. This is called point loading and is a priority of building inspectors to make sure even a new plan has this considered. Dave ----------------------------------------------------- Dave, Good morning. Not much work on the stairs last night, but did do a little investigating after cutting the carpet and pad on the second floor. The wall we were discussing yesterday...looks like they used the double top plate as the bottom plate for the second floor knee wall ( i think that's what it's called). That wall is only 51inches tall on the second floor. The studs that you saw in the picture are actually spaced on 12 inch center, one wall stud next to each joist. If I'm thinking right, the joists aren't really support anything other than the least not the wall. So best I figure we may not need to put any additional support on that wall after I cut the joists. With the 3 1/2 inches of joist that I can leave in the wall cavity and the wall studs in place, that should be sufficient? I could put insulation in that area between the osb and wallboard. I'm getting excited about opening up the floor. Enjoy the day. Art [Dave's answer] Hi Art, I have a sneaky suspicion that the studs are nailed into the joists to help support the wall from being pushed out from the roof joists. Your best bet, in view of this, is to cut the joist off at this exterior wall rather than trying to pull it out. There is a good chance of disturbing the studing to the knee wall if you do that.

It would be better to cut off the joists running through the opening at the points indicated in the drawing. What is happening here with a 51" knee wall supporting the roof joists or rafters is that there is no ceiling joist or floor joist ( normally the case) to tie the rafters in to prevent the roof load from pushing the walls out. We are removing a 10'-8" chunk of the floor which is part of the rafter/joist relationship, although the intersection point is up 51". Hopefully the framers would have installed collar ties near the ridge to help tie the roof together. This would be evident in the upper room if the ceiling doesn't come to a peak, but levels off first. Could you verify this for me. Also could you take an exterior picture of this wall. I think I noticed a roof adjoining this wall further along. No worries, just wanting to be sure of what's going on. ----------------------------------------------------- Dave, As of about midnight last night, you can now walk up and down our new stairs! It is a glorious thing!! Everything came out just as you instructed and it looks great so far. I'll finish up the insulation under the stairs and finish up the sheetrock over the next couple of days. I'm looking ahead to the newel posts and railing. The wife wants a craftsman style square newel along with square balusters. I'm thinking I could put down 1x6s on the floor around the opening. This would serve as my base for the balusters and newel posts. Would you just build the newel posts out of 1x6s with butt joints or do I need to use something like a 4x4 as a base and cover it with the 1xs? Knowing my situation so intimately, what would you recommend and how is the best way to secure the posts? Best I figure, there would be three corner posts and then a half post, if I wanted it, on the wall. Art [Dave's answer] Hey, Art, way to go! Refer to this article: I would start with a 4x4, attached it to the side of the floor joists, through the floor, as described. The bottom rail should be the same width as the newels, finished, and comes up to the newels, not under them. Leave access to the floor joists until the the newels are bolted on. Then you can cover them as you wish, after. Dave

And so it goes...

It has been a real pleasure working with Art. He listens, thinks, and asks questions, the sign of an intelligent person. A useful tool in long distance communication, such as with Art, is the digital camera. It has been invaluable on this project. I'll send Art's pictures to Dan, who will, hopefully, get them up on the website and give us a link to find them. [Here they are.]

Once again. thanks for your support in our endeavour of "Building Confidence" out there.

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