How to Install Stairs to a Basement

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Installing basement stairs may not top your list of home remodeling priorities. But a brand new set of basement stairs can improve the look of the room, especially if it is unfinished. Choose durable, high-quality hardwoods that don't stretch your budget. Later, you can stain the wood so that its natural beauty comes through. Or you can paint it in colors that complement your home's décor. To learn more about the latest styles for basement stairs, speak to a professional interior designer or consult home remodeling magazines.

Things You'll Need

  • Hardwoods such as pine or plywood
  • Tape measure
  • Saw
  • Power drill
  • Stair bracket system
  • Phillips flat-head screwdriver
  • 1 ½-inch to 2 ½-inch deck screws, depending on the thickness of your wood
  • Wood glue
  • Check your town's local building codes for measurement requirements on basement stairs. Then follow the 7/10 rule---for a 7-inch rise, you need a 10-inch tread (and a 1-inch overhang for the tread). Make sure that when you add the measurements for one run and two risers, the sum is fewer than 25 inches. At all points along the stairs, you must have at least six feet of space between the stair and the ceiling.

  • Use pine, plywood or other hardwoods to make the stairs. Measure the wood and use your saw to cut 2- by 8-inch risers and 2- by 10-inch higher risers. Cut 2- by 12-inch treads.

  • Start at ground level. Use the power drill to screw the bracket system in place. Then use the drill to make holes in all the risers and treads.

  • Screw one riser to the base of the bracket. Then screw in the tread. Alternatively, apply wood glue to the kickers and treads instead of screws, which can produce squeaking sounds.

  • Measure the length of the stair bracket system and cut four pieces of 2- by 4-inch wood to that length. Attach two on each side of the stair bracket system for extra support.

  • Make sure to measure each riser and tread. You want them to conform to the 7/10 rule.

  • Repeat Step 4 until you reach the uppermost step. Inspect the stairs to confirm you left at least a six-foot space, called headroom, at all points between them and the ceiling.

Tips & Warnings

  • You don't need to buy a standard stair bracket system. Hire a specialist who can custom-make a bracket system to fit your needs.
  • When purchasing the stair bracket system, look for an adjustable unit. These are faster and easier to install.
  • You may want to install stairs without risers in order to save money. You can add risers later on. Just begin at ground level, removing treads from the first three stairs. Attach two risers, and then treads. Either screw the risers and treads into place or attach them with the wood glue. Continue until you reach the top.

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