Sunday, October 9, 2011

Stairs At Last

The stairs are pretty much done. Except for the riser for the bottom step, the stairs are in, and we're happy with how they turned out.

First, we finished cutting all the stringers and put them in place. We made sure they were all level, so the steps will sit evenly across all 7 stringers. (We realized that, since the steps are 6 feet wide, we needed 7 stringers, not 8).

Because the plan was to build closed tread stairs (meaning that there is an end wall on each side, instead of leaving the ends of the stairs open), we had to build two side walls to cover the ends of the stairs. These are stud walls that have siding applied on the inside, up against where the stairs will go, and then a cap put on top. We built the east one first, then the west one. We left the cap off the west one, so we could fit the stairs and risers in.

In building the side walls, we realized we needed to figure out exactly where we were cutting off the posts, so we did that as well. The posts are now caped, waiting for the porch columns to be installed (next weekend).

Then we bought a sheet of 1/2" plywood, and cut it down to make the risers. The risers were nailed in place, and then we turned to the treads. The treads we bought were 11" wide, so we cut them down to 10 1/2", and then cut them to length, to fit snugly between the two walls. The wood is incredibly pricey - the 5 treads alone were almost $500 - but we figure the stairs should last 50 years or more, so it's a good investment.
New front steps for the Cheney Cottage

The wood on the treads is really beautiful, clear fir, so we decided we wanted to stain them, instead of painting them. We bought penetrating oil in a rosewood color, and applied the first coat, wiping off the excess after 20 minutes. By this time, it was after 5 o'clock today, so we decided to wait and apply more coats during the week.

Meanwhile, Jimmy (a guy in the neighborhood who does handyman work around 62nd Street) and Jamal (the nephew of our next door neighbor Dave) had both come by and asked to do some work. They spent time cleaning up the back yard.: Jimmy used a weed whacker and cut down all the tall onion grass and weeds, and they both cleaned up the yard. Dave's son Darien also came and helped out, so between the three of them they got a lot done. It is now possible to walk around the yard again.

Next weekend, we'll put down the tongue and groove floor on the porch, and build the porch roof. Having a porch makes a huge difference - not just that we can more easily get into the house, but it completes the look of the house. We can't wait to get the porch finished, so the house really does have a good street presence.

Cheney House Tour
For blog readers who want to come see the progress on 62nd Street but who don't want to get roped into working, we're having a Cheney Cottage tour on Sunday, October 30th from 2 to 4. This is an event sponsored by BAHA (Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association) and there is no charge for the event, though you do have to be a BAHA member. More information about BAHA can be found at

No comments:

Post a Comment