A Tale of Two Staircases…

“…one going up, the other going down…”

“Sunrise, sunset…”

Okay, sorry.

A quick recap: The house in Troy has had two sets of stairs, and while they are were both demonstrably “indoors,” we persisted in referring to one as the “inside” stairs, and the other, from the porch which was, at the time, open to the elements, the “outside” stairs and sometimes “the porch stairs.”

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Our thinking on these relics has flip-flopped several times; early on we planned to delete the “outside” stairs, and merely rebuild the “inside” stairs. (The inside stairs were horribly constructed, in a completely non-standard proportion which, if it had not been actually dangerous and certainly impractical, would have been charming.)

Then it was suggested that we weatherize the porch and include it as part of the living space. Suddenly we were considering keeping only the outside stairs, and removing the inside stairs. Today we took a step closer to that — partly to gain access to the soiled insulation in the walls behind the stairs.

Pictures tell the story:

Paneling down. The oak treads and risers are stubborn.


We can see why: each is nailed AND glued to an elaborate structure of rough-sawn lumber underneath.


One tread comes up, revealing a unique pattern of shims:


Half the vertical supports — in a stair-stepped pattern — come out one-by-one, flogged out with repeated whacks of a 4-lb “single jack” (one-handed sledge) that my father-in-law brought to the party. I don’t know what we would have done without it.


The view down from the upper floor after most of the steps are gone — all the way to the basement. I had a recurring nightmare as a kid about crumbling steps in a castle parapet — it was right as I snapped this picture that the dream came flooding back to memory.


The matching support structure from the back wall tumbled forward in one piece — it was barely attached — and we elected to leave it as a temporary floor to cover the cellar entrance.


The nearly-final space. To do: remove the pine paneling and the insulation. But we can begin to see the profound difference to the space in the main room!


Some of the discarded lumber from the staircase:


We’ll pick through it for salvage.

And our first trash bags on the roadside for Wednesday pickup (till now we’ve had the luxury of a dumpster).


In other news, we also set up Mark’s 12-ton jack in the basement and gave it a few cranks, raising the center of our new load-bearing beam about 3/32″. We could hear the floor above us creak. We’ll give a couple more pumps per day over the next several days, and hope to raise the beam about 7/8″ (or more).



Goodnight from exhaustion central!