Horrible staircase

Athena Hopkins
23 July 2017
These stairs are steep! Everyone in our house and a few people who have visited have slipped down these steps. It's so dark and closed off. The stairs go up from the kitchen. Which seems so odd to me. I am thinking of a way to open up the bottom by removing the wall on the right side. There is a large support sticking out of the wall as you can see from one of the pictures but it shouldn't interfere with opening it up. The only problem would be how to make them less steep. I wish I could turn the stairs 90 degrees near the bottom but probably won't happen. Just wondering how or if any of this would be possible??

Comments (20)

  • Rina

    Hi Athena. You've been waiting a bit so I just want to start the conversation by saying you need a good construction expert in to look at the situation. It seems to me the lower part of the stairs could be widened, but it might be at considerable cost, as it's likely it would affect at least one load-bearing wall. Over to the experts, now.

    If it's not feasible, look to lighting the stairs well (all day), and recovering them with differentiated risers and treads -- light and dark, I mean..

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC

    You need more run to have a slower rise and subsequently less steep stairs. If you can't steal run from somewhere, you're stuck. Math is cruel like that.

  • visualizemaven

    Contact stair companies: I suspect you will be able to reduce the steep incline after you remove the wall to the right and then create a landing and a turn to the right at the bottom. Don't give up.

  • millworkman

    "I suspect you will be able to reduce the steep incline after you remove the wall to the right"

    As Joseph said unless you gain "run" your SOL.

  • Athena Hopkins
    I have been trying to figure out all possibilities. It's a house built in 1900 and there are some things that seem to be nearly impossible to resolve. I have a almost 3 and a 4 year old and don't let them go up and down the stairs by themselves because they have fallen a few times. I just want to make it safer.
  • dowagercountess

    I also suggest contacting stair companies. I've seen work done by a local stair company. I don't know how they did it, but I was amazed at what they were able to do in two different homes. Every house is different, and you never know unless you ask!

  • visualizemaven

    Dear Millwork: I was thinking something like this would resolve the unsafe steep stair problem. No?

  • felizlady
    These stairs seem to be much narrower and steeper than normal stairs. Is the upstairs area an add-on? That would explain their size and position (originally a closet, probably).
    I would doubt that they meet safety standards for a main stairway. Remove the rug to reduce the slip factor. There may be a lightly sanded compound you can apply to the stair treads for just this problem. Be sure that the hand rail is very sturdy and attached at the proper height.
  • Athena Hopkins
    I'm not really sure but it wouldn't surprise me. We bought the house 3 years ago and it was built in 1900. The way our house is set up seems poorly slapped together. The stairs are very narrow and they definitely don't meet current standards for stairs.
  • Athena Hopkins
    We do plan on building on to the house and opening up the kitchen/dining area (the stairway is in the kitchen). So after we do that I assume renovating the stairs and adding a landing to make them much better.
  • gtcircus
    Two comments about the stairs which might help short of a rebuild. Take the carpet off the stairs and get LED lights installed to improve vision. I had so many falls on my curved staircase when it had carpeting that I finally had enough and afterwards no more falls. I also installed pot lights over the stairs which helps too. Good luck!
  • jhmarie

    I agree about removing the carpet. I used to slip on the carpet on my stairs. If this is temporary till you do a renovation, you might just paint the wood under the stairs if it looks in too rough of shape to stain. I have stair tread rugs on my stairs.

    I haven't slipped on them yet. The wood under my carpet looked terrible, but with a lot of sanding and some stain and paint, they are much improved.

    I also agree about adding lights.

  • Julie Diehl
    What about a wrought iron and wood spiral staircase? I'll try to send some links of pics.
  • Julie Diehl
    Here's an example:

    Nautical Spiral · More Info
  • PRO
    Loudoun Stairs

    Consult a professional!! Would hate for you to hit a supporting wall and end up creating more problems then you have now. But if everything is good to go, maybe look into open stairs to go with your open wall, this could definitely open up that space!

    Waterford Homes - Open Rise Store · More Info

  • acm

    Agree that you might be able to get more run (and thus less steepness) by turning a corner, but also agree that you need a staircase specialist before you waste the money taking out a load-bearing wall (and putting in a $$$ beam to carry the load instead). Meantime, I'd add a lot more lighting in that staircase -- low-profile wall lights at several intervals, say.

    WAC Lighting Float 18"LED Wall Sconce in Chrome · More Info

    Access Lighting 50033 Vision 1 Light Flush Mount Ceiling Fixture · More Info
    An electrician can fish the wires through from some light you already have, with just a couple of tiny holes to patch, so it's worth doing while you're planning all the rest.

  • ninigret

    i have an old (1870) house and the back stairs (kitchen to far end of second floor hall) and stairs to 3rd floor are very steep with a good amount of wane on the front of many treads. my grandmother's arts and crafts bungalow, where the second floor was unfinished storage, were also steep.

    wipe out of your mind reconfiguring, you'll just use up first floor space you dont want to with very limited results.

    instead, make the stairs safe. remove the carpeting, spend your money on improving the looks of whatever is below it, and make a rule NO SOCKS ON THE STAIRS. bare feet and shoes and grippy slippers only. i can run up and down my steep stairs all day long as long as i have sure footing and i'm 61.

  • Athena Hopkins
    Thank you everyone! I think the first thing I will do is remove carpet and make the stairs safer that way and add some extra lighting in the stairway. I will hold off on attempting any major work for awhile.
  • simstress
    LED step lights cost very little to run, even if left on all the time. I did every 3rd step and used a 3-way switch for my stairs. I put them on a low dim at night. They look extra bright here because the stairs were being painted white. Good luck!
  • visualizemaven

    Please consult with a couple of stair experts - it will cost you nothing. I am dying to hear what options/advice they will give you.