Some people enjoy living in or buying old houses for the experience of fixing them up, restoring features that can be restored and turning the house back into its former glory. One such project that you may be faced with if this is you, is front porch stairs remodeling. Often stairs are rotting, or have been altered from how they originally looked so they need some love and attention.
There are several ways to find out what a house or portion of a house may have looked like originally, old photos, looking at similar houses, old plans and so on. This article is about front porch stairs remodeling done to be as accurate as possible on a house built in the 1900s.
When this project was started the existing stairs worked but were not accurate in appearance. A back and white family photo was used as a guide and features noted were the large posts at the bottom of the stairs and on each side of the walls were cedar shakes. They were 12 ft wide but back then only supported by five stringers (these are the boards used in a zig zag to support the risers and treads). Today that is not thought to be enough so deviating from the original work for safety reasons, ten stringers were made instead out of 2 x 12 salvaged lumber.
First thing done in this front porch stairs remodeling project was to take down all existing stairs. Then new frames were built and concrete poured on each side for supporting the new walls. When the concrete was set the 24 inch by 24 inch pillars on either side at the bottom of the stairs were built using deck screws and pressure-treated wood. The frame was anchored to the concrete with anchor bolts and them exterior plywood used for the pillar faces. 2 x 4 pressure-treated lumber was used for the railings on each side which were then faced with OSB board.
Cedar was used for trim and risers because it is insect and dry rot resistant. For that reasons 1 x 4 cedar boards were used for the treads too. It was assumed that 1 x 4 boards were used for the original stairs because the porch was still original and the porch deck used 1 x 4 boards so it was probably that what was used for the deck was used for the stairs. Once all the treads and risers were in the OSB was covered with black roofing felt then cedar shakes, tying these walls in with the house.
Finally three inch thick concrete caps that were made for the top of the pillars but 2 inches larger. To age the concrete so that there was not an obvious difference between the old and new black grout used for interior floor tiling was used as a stain. Then it was all painted and the project of front porch stairs remodeling was finished.