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stair code on winders

hammer1's picture

There have been several references to a 6" minimum width on the small end of winder treads. I'm trying to figure out how or why this is required. It seems to me that stairs need to be designed for your walking position in relation to the handrail. An arbitrary measurement of 6" could mean that the stair climber may transition from a 7/12 to a 7/16 as they hit the winder section. Stairs are rhythmic and any discrepancy in either rise or run constitutes a tripping hazard in a continuous sequence. A "typical" adult is centered about 16" from the handrail when climbing or descending a stair. Why would a code not take into account a persons position rather than an arbitrary measurement that doesn't account for handrail position and the travel lane?

Does anyone have pictures of how a 6" minimum short point of a winder is handled when you have an open mitered skirt? How does this effect even baluster placement that has to be 4"? Do you just fudge in the odd one? I knew an insurance adjuster that investigated stair accidents. The company would not be liable for a stair that had an odd step in the sequence. The break in cadence would cause tripping, as we all know. Won't the 6" short point require a longer total run in both straight sections? In ordinary homes, the space allowed for stairs is often cramped at the minimum, if that.

Lucky for me, I don't run into winders very often and prefer to avoid them on a main stair. The last set I did kept the travel lane the same with the winders coming to a point. This, of course, depends on the placement of the rail, which was approximately 6" in from the point. I've never had an inspector measure any parts of my stairs. I'm pretty sure they would notice if I had to allow the bottom step to stick 6" into a doorway just so I could get a 6' short point on the winders. Can someone help me make sense of this?

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

(post #75943, reply #1 of 16)

I believe it is for EMT/Firefighters' access and egress.


Could be wrong, though.


Made my first 6" last year and they are much easier to negotiate tools/materials/furniture etc.


 


Troy Sprout


Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it."
-- Thomas Sowell

(post #75943, reply #2 of 16)

The only graphic I have says that @ 18" away fron the handrail the tread must be 10" wide. I,ve built them with 2" @ the point of the winder tread and never had a problem with the Building Inspector.


If your local code insist on a 6" point you'll have to add more run in both directions.


Best to you and yours, Chris.


Some say I know too much.

Best to you and yours, Chris.

Building as thou art paranoid never harmed anyone.

(post #75943, reply #3 of 16)

Try this link for a visual guide to stair code.


Stairway Manufacturer's Association - SMA: Codes and Standards


Terry

(post #75943, reply #4 of 16)

I have a spiral stair case in my house. I HATE these stairs. I will take them out some day but it is a huge job to make room for real stairs.


I can see the BI point about the 6". If you are carrying something in your hands and cannot see your feet or the steps, and step into that small area it becomes a ski slope.Your foot will slide to the next step causing you to fall backwards in most cases.

(post #75943, reply #10 of 16)

I used to work for a shop where we also built the York spiral staircase, http://www.yorkspiralstair.com/. Although these are very attractive, you better have another means of moving furniture. Running up or down will get you some sore bones. Better than a fireman's pole and visually stunning but not what you want for a main stair.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

(post #75943, reply #5 of 16)

IRC code calls for 6" min. at small end of tread and min. 10" at a point 12" in, which is the walk line. Now, my local code calls for the 6" min. at small end, and at the 12" in, walk line, depth of tread should be same as the straight treads. But if they are all winders as in a curved ( circular stairs ) then the 12" in  measurement should fit into the rise/ run code here , which is 2 rise and 1 run = 24- 25". As far as the balusters, yea you may have to fudge a bit, but still stay within the 4" code.


Roger

(post #75943, reply #6 of 16)

My thought is that if the small side of a winder tread, was, say 2" wide, and someone was hurriedly ascending or descending the stairs and stepped on that 2" "ledge" their foot may likely slip off and they would fall down the stairs.


Planning enough room for stairs that work is definitely something that has to be done when the house plans are drawn.


As far as BI's not measuring stuff, you are right, but although I hate to admit it, those guys are pretty sharp:  I've had one say "hey, that baluster space is more than 4".  So I produce a tape measure, and find that it is 4.25".  In my area, they do maybe 10 or more inspections a day, so even after only a few months on the job they can almost spot things from the street... Not to say they don't miss things, but generally I find these guys extremely quick to pick up on the discrepancies.  I always try to walk my jobs with BIs - especially for the framing and final inspections.


BTW - I don't know what codes are in force where you live but take a look at this document: http://www.stairways.org/pdf/2003%20Stair%20IRC%20SCREEN.pdf  It might help.

Matt

(post #75943, reply #7 of 16)

I work for an achy/builder who is always squeezing in winder stairs. His record is 7 winder treads in one flight!

It's interesting that the rest of the country has a 6" minimum for the narrowest part, while NC has had 4" for as long as I can remember...at least since last week, ha.

Up until we went to the IRC, we could put the handrail on the wide side, way easier and better looking, IMO...good thing the rail can run fron 30-38" in the same flight<G>

"But to be honest some folks here have been pushing the envelope quite a bit with their unnecessary use if swear words. They just put a character in to replace a letter. But everyone knows what they're saying." Sancho

www.tvwsolar.com

The Village Woodworks, Inc

Chapel Hill, NC

 

We'll have a kid Or maybe we'll rent one He's got to be straight We don't want a bent one He'll drink his baby brew From a big brass cup Someday he may be president If things loosen up

(post #75943, reply #8 of 16)

I keep forgetting that you changed your screen name and I "know" you...  Yea - I know it's been about 4 years...  must be all those brain cells I donated to research...


Yes it is 4" here in NC, but I didn't add that because I didn't want to muddy the water. 


BTW I called the NC Dept of Insurance/Firemarshal office in Garner to try to get a new code book so I could get a jump on the new code.  The lady told me that the new code books are not yet available, but that the "new" 2006 code would definitely be adopted in July - same thing I was told a year ago... :-)  I am very interested in finding out about the new code requirements because I have some house plans that may need to be redrawn because of the stairs.


OTOH, looking at this document form the NCDOI I think I might be OK and it might be safe to assume that if changes are not listed, then whatever the IRC 2003 specifies might well be what we have to build to.  If you look at the afore mentioned document, the stair section starts on page 31, although only the modified paragraphs are shown.  You probably know this, but the underlined sections are what NC added.  Obviously the strike throughs is what NC is removing.  So, it looks like, for the most part we will still have our somewhat liberal stair requirements. 


BTW - regarding continuous stair handrails someone told me that they are going to start enforcing it so that we have to have continuous stair rails like what is shown in Photo 23 of this document that I referenced earlier in this thread.  Does your building jurisdiction inspections dept enforce that?  What are you? - Chapel Hill/Carboro/Orange Co/Durham?  I build in Raleigh/Wake Co/Cary/Garner/etc and they don't make us do that.  A carpenter told me a few weeks ago that he thinks it sux because it makes the rail assembly less strong.  What do you think?

Matt

(post #75943, reply #11 of 16)

Name only changed to protect the innocent<G>

Doesn't look like anything relating to stairs changed at all in the new IRC.

Add Chatham to my range of counties...as far as the continuous deal, there's an overlapping clause that I've asked a few inspectors about, haven't ever gotten more than a "what the hell does that mean?" shrug out of them<G>. Nobody's ever seen an example.

I haven't actually had to do that jog you pictured, might be a little less strong. It would still be fastend with wall brackets. Take a while longer, though.

Our inspectors are usually pretty accomodating. When we have an issue with handrails, we'll discuss it with the clients, then call inspections for "advice." They usually give the "well, if that's what you really want to do" variance<G>.

Hey, I'll have to meet you over at Irregardless for lunch sometime. Or come over here, and we'll get Shelter Nerd to spring for some pizza<G>

"But to be honest some folks here have been pushing the envelope quite a bit with their unnecessary use if swear words. They just put a character in to replace a letter. But everyone knows what they're saying." Sancho

www.tvwsolar.com

The Village Woodworks, Inc

Chapel Hill, NC

 

We'll have a kid Or maybe we'll rent one He's got to be straight We don't want a bent one He'll drink his baby brew From a big brass cup Someday he may be president If things loosen up

(post #75943, reply #13 of 16)

Irregardless for lunch sounds great - it's only about 3 or 4 miles from my building site.   Or I could come over your way but it would have to be Saturday.  I'm slammed Monday - Friday, and actually usually work 1/2 a day on Saturday, but that's flexible - I only do it because I like my (salaried) job and Saturday is a day when I can get some stuff done uninterrupted.  I'm sending you an E-mail.  All these years at BT and I've never actually met anyone - OK - maybe one, but he was a short-timer that isn't around anymore... 


Edited 1/27/2007 6:02 pm ET by Matt

Matt

(post #75943, reply #14 of 16)

I'm going to sharpen my axe G>

"But to be honest some folks here have been pushing the envelope quite a bit with their unnecessary use if swear words. They just put a character in to replace a letter. But everyone knows what they're saying." Sancho

www.tvwsolar.com

The Village Woodworks, Inc

Chapel Hill, NC

 

We'll have a kid Or maybe we'll rent one He's got to be straight We don't want a bent one He'll drink his baby brew From a big brass cup Someday he may be president If things loosen up

(post #75943, reply #9 of 16)

My thought is that if the small side of a winder tread, was, say 2" wide, and someone was hurriedly ascending or descending the stairs and stepped on that 2" "ledge" their foot may likely slip off and they would fall down the stairs.

Ours aren't 6" - of each pair, the upper is around 8-10", the lower goes almost to a point. If you hit that one close to the railing by mistake it is a hazard (from experience). (We have each square which would be a landing normally with one rise across it diagonally.)

(post #75943, reply #12 of 16)

I made some winders last year. With 6" at the point and the 10" minimum (I think) 12" from the point, they were very comfortable steps to walk up. I think the reason for the minimum depth is just so there is something to stand on anyplace of the step.

 

Family.....They're always there when they need you.

(post #75943, reply #15 of 16)

A 6" wide narrow point of the winder plus the 1" nosing makes a 7" tread at the narrow point.  Not all that comfortable but I could step up off of it. 


With winders that come to a point at the line of travel you might have a tread thats only 8" or so.  Going up isn't terrible but coming down is tough. 


 


 

Matt- Woods favorite carpenter. 

(post #75943, reply #16 of 16)

And on another note....


My children always hold the rail using stairs and the 6" inside insures their little feet have a good step.


Lookin' out for the kiddies


Troy Sprout


Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it."
-- Thomas Sowell