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  • Jessica Foster

Interior Stairs: What Can Go Wrong?


Like doors, stairs are another aspect of construction that can contribute to a building’s overall aesthetic. They also, like doors, serve as passageways to move throughout a house. However, while they can act as a complimentary piece to a home’s interior design, stairs are subjected to various guidelines and regulations to ensure they are properly installed and kept. Getting to one level to another can be more than just transportation in certain situations, such as in the events of fire or other disasters. As such, making sure the stairs are installed in adherence to performance guidelines is crucial for any construction project. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has set guidelines specifically for interior stairs that can be followed along to ensure this.


For interior stairs, one observation that can be made is gaps existing between interior stair risers, treads, and/or skirts. A stair’s riser refers to the vertical part of the stairs, the tread refers to the horizontal part of the stairs, and the skirt refers to the stair’s trim that covers its structural parts. Gaps between these mentioned parts that are designed to meet flush should not exceed ⅛ inch in width. If the gaps are excessive, some parts may need to be replaced. Filler is also an acceptable solution. Gaps may also exist between stair railing parts, and like before, the gaps shouldn’t exceed ⅛ inch in width.


Another issue that may pop up is a stair riser or tread squeaking. It’s important to note that having stairs completely devoid of any squeaking is nearly impossible to guarantee, so minimal noise should be expected. However, loud squeaking caused by a loose riser or tread is excessive. In this situation, the offending parts can be refastened to stop the squeaking without removing any treads, though replacing components may be necessary if the first solution doesn’t work. These squeaks can happen when risers/treads are loose because the mentioned parts deflect from the weight of a person and rub against the nails that hold them in place.


Lastly, it’s possible for an interior stair railing to lack rigidity. To ensure stair railings are within tolerance, relevant building codes should be referred to. In the event that a part of the stair railing is loose beyond what building codes say is acceptable, the offending parts should be secured. Aside from following applicable building codes upon the railings installation, actions such as pulling, swinging, etc., shouldn’t occur on the railings as they can loosen the rail system.


While not much thought may be given to interior stairs aside from visual design choices, there is still a plethora of guidelines that they need to adhere to so they can function properly and safely, so they can be utilized not only for daily means but also in the case of disasters. Here at Fine Remodeling, we are your Delaware contractor experienced with the various performance guidelines to ensure that your project proceeds smoothly. Not only that, but we are determined to go beyond just satisfactory so your project can become a reality. Get in touch with us about your next renovation project so you can be sure it's done right the first time.


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