We bought our house new and the stairs the builder hand built were treacherous. They were difficult enough for adults and I was sure one of the kids was going to get hurt on them. There were a series of 10 stairs plus two different landings. The treads were made from 2×6′s that warped badly, leaving a very uneven rise. The platforms were built incorrectly, so the rise on them differed greatly from the rest of the stairs. To boot, you had to reach out over the second step to flip on the lights.
My first plan was to rip them out and have a local stair building company install a pre-built stair case. The estimate was about $800, so I decided to do some research.
First, I looked up a number of articles on how to build stairs. I found an article on ThisOldHouse.com that detailed the calculations on how to determine the right rise and run for the stairs. I did the calculations and measured the existing stringers. The top stringers were cut correctly, but the warped treads made them very uneven. The platforms were definitely built incorrectly. UPDATE: The article doesn’t appear on ThisOldHouse.com any longer, but I found one here: http://www.bobvila.com/HowTo_Library/Stairbuilding_Basics-Stairs-A1981.html.
I ripped the bottom two platforms out and cut stringers to even out the rise. I installed them and a stair skirt (fyi, don’t do an internet search on stair skirt without safe search enabled). I cut risers from 1x pine and bought pine treads for about $10 each.
I was about to prime the whole thing when my wife came home from visiting a model home where she had seen a stained stair tread with a painted riser. I was very skeptical that the pine treads would look nice stained, but I think it came out well. The stain here matches the cabinets and is the same stain I used on the bead board under the bar.
I also moved the hand rail to the other side of the stairs. You can’t see it here, but I added a switch at the top of the stairs to the left of the door so you could turn on the light before entering the stairwell.
I’ve got a lot of hours into this stairwell. The rebuild was time consuming. The finish on the stairs was involved and there was a lot of electrical work involved (adding a four way switch, adding a second light, adding three LED lights along the stairwell. In addition, our paint scheme is three colors, which was a lot of work in this tight space.