Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hoboken Brownstone: Stairs

We had the stairs fixed pretty early on in the project.  At first I thought we would wait to do them so they didn't get beaten up during the construction, but the fact is... the workers need to be able to get upstairs! And we didn't want them to further deteriorate with all the traffic.

The existing railing was in pretty good shape with only a few missing spindles and a beautiful newel post.  But the stairs themselves were pretty creaky and sloped.  So Marty Anderson and his team were brought on to do their magic!  In Hoboken, if you want to keep your old stair but make it like new...he's the guy to call. And in this town, that's a lot of stairs and a lot of experience!

Here you see that they removed all the treads and risers.  Then they will cut new ones to fit the existing stringer.  If the floor levels change because of new floor material, radiant heat or leveling sloped floors, it can cause an unequal riser at the beginning or end of the stair run.  You'd be surprised at how an unexpected change in the riser height, even a subtle one, can make you trip on that last step!  In our case there was originally no subfloor so new flooring raised us up 3/4".  Each riser was adjusted to provide equal steps throughout. 

Here's the stair with all new treads and risers.  We did a prefinished wood floor so the treads will be treated to match the rest of the flooring.  

The balusters were put back in place and the beautiful curving handrail restored.  The newel post was covered with a plywood box to protect it during the rest of the construction. 

Under the stair you can see how they put in reinforcing which will keep the treads from sagging and squeaking. The stairs feel totally solid... good as new.

There had been a wall under this first floor stairs into the basement but we decided to open it up to give more visual room to the entry hall.  We put in an entirely new railing with a more simple baluster of a similar shape, all selected from the Dykes catalog.  Ultimately we painted all the stair rails black so you don't pick up on the fact that they don't match perfectly.  I'll try to get some shots of that railing in a later post.

The stair railing design continues up through all the floors.  We were lucky to have so many balusters still in place and in good condition.  We were missing only a few and those were replicated to match the rest. 

The sculptural quality of the stair and handrail are enhanced by the natural light from the skylight...

When the stair was primed all white, it had an ethereal quality... 

It was tempting to keep it that way, but we decided black would be the most dramatic and set off this sculptural piece from the rest of the house.  I think we were right! 

What do you think?