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STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS
AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
ARCHITECTURE & BUILDING COMPONENT ID
BEST CONSTRUCTION PRACTICES GUIDE
BOOKSTORE - INTERIORS
BUILDING NOISE DIAGNOSIS & CURE
BUILDING SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
CARPETING, SELECTION & INSTALLATION
DECK & PORCH CONSTRUCTION
ELDERLY & VETERANS HOME SAFETY
FRAMING DAMAGE, INSPECTION, REPAIR
HOME INSPECTION SAFETY HAZARDS
LIGHTING, EXTERIOR GUIDE
LIGHTING, INTERIOR GUIDE
MOBILE HOME INSPECTIONS
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
NOISE CONTROL for FLOORS
ROT RESISTANT LUMBER
SAFETY HAZARDS & INSPECTIONS
SAFETY: Elderly & Veterans Home Safety
SAFETY for ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS
SOUND CONTROL in buildings
Splits in Structural Wood Beams
STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS
WOOD FLOOR DAMAGE
Stair stringer & stair tread support defects & safety hazards: this document provides specifications, sketches, photographs, and examples of improperly constructed or otherwise damaged stair and stair tread supports. Our photo at page top shows a wood exterior stair during construction by the author D. Friedman and associate Art Cady. Because of the tricky uneven ground and the difficulty of accurately measuring rise off of a rough slope, the builders set the downhill stringer in place first, and determined remaining stair construction measurements based on the location of that stringer. Railings and balusters are incomplete in the photo.
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For a complete list of articles on stairs, railings, and ramps, their inspection, trip hazards, and good design, see STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS - INSPECTIONS, CODES. Also see Building Safety Hazards Guide. Here we include references to key documents on building codes and stair and railing safety.
Definition of stairway stringer: the stair stringer is the diagonal supporting structure that carries the weight of the stair assembly as well as people using the stairs. In our page top photo you can see the stair stringer that used 2x lumber. Stringers are typically notched to accept stair treads, or treads may be mounded on cleats secured to the stringer interior face.
You can see a stair stringer along the upper-edge of the set of stairs lying on their edge in our photo at above-right, after the stairs fell from the stair opening (our photo at above left) during a building renovation project. The stair stringer is secured to the structure at stair top, stair bottom, stair sides, depending on where there are building surfaces present.
Watch for rot in wooden stairs, especially at exterior entrances and decks. Where the stair stringer is mounted against a building wall water is often trapped, leading to hidden rot and sudden collapse.
Our photo shows rotting basement stair treads; from the stair top we could see that the entire stairway was twisting and in danger of sudden collapse. The sketch, courtesy Carson Dunlop, predicts stair rot exactly where it's found in our photograph.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about stair stringers
Questions & answers or comments about structural support for stairs: the stairway stringer. .
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Technical Reviewers & References
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