How to Build Basement Stairs on a Budget

Basement stairs come in all shapes and sizes from the very simple utility/access stairs to the more elaborate decorative stairs in which the basement is expanded to be a major part of the living area. One of the major issues facing the stair builder is the unpredictable overall stair height that often occurs with basement stairs. Whether new or existing construction the basement slab height nearly always seems to vary up or down making pre-built stairs problematic. For this reason basement stairs are usually built to customized heights.

The normal procedure in the industry is to call out a stair specialist to custom build the stair using 2 x12 cut stringers as framing for constructing the stair. This can be a difficult and costly process requiring a high degree of skill. However, there is an easier solution available that will save you time as well as money. The system consists of self-adjusting, stair building brackets, used to form an “engineered stair”. Adjustable stair building brackets provide a custom, tailored approach to stair building that is much faster, easier and stronger than conventional construction. They’re an easy, low cost and simple solution for any custom basement stair building.

This bracket system can quickly form a basic utility stair or an elaborate, fully finished hardwood stair. The adjustable stair building brackets basically do the work for you, making the stair building process simple and streamlined. The brackets are approved as adjustable joist hangers which automatically adjust to form any rise or run required while at the same time, allowing the risers to be structurally attached between the stringers, carrying the load across the stair like stepping floor joists.

Only two outside stringers are required because they are full depth, without notching (unlike conventional cut stringers) and they’re engineered to carry much greater loads than conventional cut stringers. Additionally, only three to four end cuts are required per stringer which eliminate approximately seventy saw cuts when compared to conventional cut stringers for basement stairs.

The adjustable stair building brackets may be used with many different materials including pine, MDF treads, hardwoods etc. The adjustable stair building brackets allow for customized rise and tread configurations which can be adjusted to meet all building codes for both interior and exterior applications.

The first thing you need to do is to determine the material you are going to use, the exact number of steps and the stair width. A fully interactive stair calculator is available online which further simplifies the process.

For materials, you will need (2) 2 x6’s per stringer member for both sides. The stringers should be straight without any twist. The 2×6’s should be at least 12″ longer than the total length of your stair.

Adjustable brackets will allow stairs to be built up to nine feet in width, using only the two outside stringers. Use 2×8’s for risers with heights up to 7-1/4″ and 2 x10’s for risers over 7-1/4″. Treads may be 2×12’s, 5/4 pine, 5/4 hardwood, sturdy floor ripped to size or MDF etc. Pre-cut risers and treads exactly to length once you figure out how many steps you need and their width- this will save time.

You start by setting the brackets on two 2×6 stringer members using the reusable spacers and pivot screws. Once set, remove spacers and rotate the brackets to adjust stair rise and run. Fix the brackets in position and attach the risers and treads. 3D demos will explain the process clearly- see link below.

Tools and other materials needed will be: Power drill, saw (preferably power saw),# 8 1-1/4″ Phillips head, star or square drive screws for the stair building brackets, #8 2-1/2″ screws for every 9 ” of tread and riser connections and spacers to customize the rise and tread configurations.

ICC-ES approved, this” Engineered Stair Building System” eliminates the need to cut stringers and has been tested to be faster and much stronger than conventionally constructed stairs. Savings of $500 per flight of stairs and more are not uncommon with adjustable stair building brackets. Using this system, both professionals and do-it-yourselfers will build cost efficient basement stairs, without sacrificing quality, accuracy, strength or appearance.


Updated: September 22, 2019 — 6:45 pm

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