The Basement Renovation: Finishing under the stairs

The Basement Renovation: Finishing under the stairs

Originally, there was a cabinet built into the area under the side landing.  It was nothing fancy– just some basic storage. My first plan was to remove all the non-structural elements (the plywood wall, doors and shelves) and create a built-in book shelf.  That demolition led to the discovery of what was a potentially serious problem:  one of the main support posts for the side landing was severely rotted.  The post was set in the concrete slab and fifty years of wicking up moisture from the ground below the slab had reduced two 2 x 6’s to the structural equivalent of maybe a 2×2.

The hip bone’s connected to the leg bone…

Before making the repair, we had to determine exactly how the structure went together.
bsmt35-stair-label
The joists (A) support the landing floor and upper stairs (B).  The joists (A) are in turn supported by the blocks of the outside wall at one end and a cross member (C) which ties into the support posts (D and E).  Both the upper and lower stair structures tie into support post E, which, as luck would have it, was the damaged post.


To make the repair, we replaced the rotted post with a jack post

  • The jack post was temporarily placed under the cross member and adjusted until the weight of the structure was taken off of the damaged support post.
  • We screwed a 2×4 to the cross member to brace the structure.
  • The damaged post was cut and removed and the debris was cleared away.
  • The jack post was removed from its temporary position.  The 2×4 brace now bore the weight of the structure.
  • The jack post was placed under the existing post adjusted until it bore the weight of the structure and was screwed into place.  The temporary brace was removed.

At this point, I decided against the built-in bookshelf and chose instead to just build a simple stud wall.  It just seemed easier.

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The Cubby

To make use of the space under the lower part of the stairs, I built a box that would serve as a cubby for the cat litter pan for our two cats. It worked reasonably well and both cats got some use out of the new location. Unfortunately, before the basement was completely finished, neither cat was still with us.  Fortunately, the cubby was also large enough for a recycling or storage bin.  I simply had to make a plywood door to cover the opening.

The stairs were sheathed with hardboard, which was flexible enough to conform to the curve.  The treads and risers were extended by an inch and a half to allow for the carpet to be tucked underneath. 2x2s were screwed to the edge of the steps for the extensions. Where there was a curve to the steps, the curve was traced onto wider material (2×4 or 2×6) and that material was trimmed down.

The hardboard was primed with an oil-base primer, and Fibre-Decor was applied for a unique textured surface.


The Basement Renovation

Basement Floor Plan
Hiding Stuff
Accommodating a Window
Installing Doors

Finishing under the Stairs

The Pantry
A Diary of the “Home Stretch”
The Finished Product

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