The ‘Stair’ that Broke the Camels Back

Have you ever watched that show “Renovation Realities”?

It’s the show where two people pitch their idea to this network on how they are going to DIY something HUGE that clearly needs a trained professionals help, and let the network record every train-wreck-moment of it…

Ten minutes into the show you are hooked on how they are possibly going to finish an entire kitchen re-install with only 3 days of vacation left. then their babysitter cancels and they have a three- year old running around screaming banging pots and pans stored in the living room because they tore apart their whole kitchen because some random you-tuber told them they could do this project in a week.

Know what show I’m talking about?

This was my life… for THREE MONTHS.

The project that would have won us an Oscar on this show though would have been the Staircase of Doom.

Horror Film? or New Staircase Build?


Now rest assured we left all the structural components up to the professionals- Carpenters put in our basement and first floor stringers- leaving for us the ‘pretty stuff’ … like treads, risers, balusters, railing and sanity.
Do you know how many code requirements are on a staircase?- It’s not like sticking some tile on a backsplash DIY- Noooo NO.  Whip out your High School Geometry Books folks.  I’m about to take you to school:



5 Things I Learned DIY’ing a Staircase

  1. Get Over Your Fear of Heights Right Now.
    • I was so terrified of that ledge.  I’d get that mad-helpful tone and cringe until we were done being close to the edge.  But the fear just meant it took longer to do.  Get over it.
    • ACTUALLY here is the PC statement:  Use proper safety precautions and consult a professional.
  2. A Jig is not just an Irish Dance
    • The calculation to find out how many balusters per stair was pretty simple- once I wrapped my head around that fact that I was building a staircase.   Measure from the back of the tread to the front of the tread and divide by how many balusters are needed on that stair-  not something you want to do on every stair-  Make a JIG.  I used a scrap piece of wood and drilled the holes for the perfect spacing so every stair was the same.  We even used one for the rail.  Ten minutes prep saved hours of measuring, plum and leveling.
  3. Don’t plan on finishing over a weekend…
    • This project took weeks. Granted we were doing multiple projects at one time with work and a four year old literally riding her tricycle up and down the hallways.  Even without the daycare atmosphere, I still believe it would have taken weeks because of drytime of the stain and varnish, measuring, angles, etc..
  4. Grab your partner, dosido…
    • Think about a staircase in your mind.  Now think of yourself at the top, then think of yourself holding the handrail that goes alllllll the way to the bottom by yourself.  Get a partner. And tell them they’re awesome, doing great, nice butt.
  5. Know your Codes-
    • This is the most annoying one of all.  Different counties have different codes and your city might be different than what county requires… find someone that knows your codes.  Call your inspectors office with the county early in the morning.  Chances are you ill grab them before they leave for the day and get all the answers you need.


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