Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Steps Toward Steps

the old carport stairs

I haven't posted in a while, but I have been doing work on the house, the steps in particular. But I've been slowed by frequent rains (those of you who are getting buried under snowstorms have no sympathy for me, I know -- but avoiding that kind of weather is one of the reasons I moved here in the first place).

I tore the old steps down pretty quickly. Once I got one board loose, I could use leverage to loosen others. The fact parts were rotted helped a lot, too. Note to those building exterior structures from wood: water will find its way in, so be sure to treat all sides of the wood, not just the parts you can see after assembly. That goes double for any place with a horizontal surface where water can sit. The rotted ledger also lead to some rot and termites in one of the joists of the carport, so it took me a while to get a clean slate to start from.

After a lot of thinking, measuring, re-thinking, re-measuring, and consulting various stair stringer calculators, I laid out the stringers for the stairs. I managed to screw up somewhere, so one stringer was re-purposed for other uses. After more measuring, thinking and consulting stair stringer calculators, I tried again. This time I was successful, so I spent a couple days cutting the 3 stringers. The bottoms of rest on concrete and/or the ground, and it's a generally wet area (under trees that catch the fog in summer, north of the

new stairs rising

house), so I used pressure-treated 2x12s for them. The added density of the wood from the PT process almost burned out my little skilsaw, even with a fresh blade part way through the process.

I don't have a picture of the current status, but I cut, stained and installed boards up to the landing, as well as the rectangular part of it, so with the addition of a temporary piece of plywood, and the top railing on one side, we now have functional stairs. They're a long ways from finished, as I still have to do the trickier triangular part of the landing, and the rest of the railings, but given all the rain we've been having, it's nice to have functioning steps. That way we can avoid using our neighbor's steps, and tromping through the mud around the corner of the house.

One other note: I said in my original post that "I'm sore, stiff, and with bruises aplenty, but no broken bones." So about that... I've been having some minor but lingering pains here and there after almost two months, so yesterday I went to the doctor. He said if I was 80, he'd worry I had compression fractures of my vertebrae, but at 44, I was probably OK. But he ordered up some x-rays to be sure. I heard from him a little while ago: the x-ray tech failed to do any useful x-rays of my lower back, but my mid back looked OK. However, the odd pain in my ribs in my side is because I have...a broken rib, with a mild displacement. There's nothing to do (except stop doing anything that makes it hurt), but I can expect some pain from it for the next 2-3 months. Sigh. At least it isn't too painful, but 2-3 months more?

rotted post where landing was