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Taking steps to tackle stair despair

A new campaign is targeting builders working on extensions and loft conversions to warn against ‘Stair Despair’.

The social media campaign, promoted by the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) Stair Scheme, is highlighting the awful bodge jobs and crazy design decisions being made every day in the design and installation of timber stairs.

Have you seen worse? Join in on Twitter by tagging photos #StairDespair.

 

Taking steps to tackle stair despair
Feeling a bit unsteady on this stair? This newel post has been cut off and poorly fixed back together.

Taking steps to tackle stair despair
This newel post is wobbly and insecurely fixed. Would it support the load if someone fell against it? And the riser height is different on every step creating a real trip hazard.

Taking steps to tackle stair despair
The horror beneath – Incorrect fixings have been used to attach the riser to the tread and an incorrect fixing specification used to secure the wall string to the wall. This leads to creaking stairs and movement of the staircase when in use.

Taking steps to tackle stair despair
And oh! A handy coat hook to cover up a join on the main load-bearing newel post.

Taking steps to tackle stair despair
Mind the gap – This newel post is not plumb level and the handrail angle has been incorrectly machined. There’s a loose fixing with only a couple of pins fixing the two parts together.

Taking steps to tackle stair despair
Hold on tight – Using poor fixings on joints will lead to movement and wobbles when you use this handrail.

Taking steps to tackle stair despair
Has anyone done a structural calculation on this ‘extra’ beam supporting the new loft stairs?

Taking steps to tackle stair despair
Not measured correctly? Never mind, just chuck in an extra newel post…

Taking steps to tackle stair despair
… or skip a spindle.

Taking steps to tackle stair despair
Looks like someone’s having difficulties getting a secure fixing for the handrail. That hole will take some repairing.

Taking steps to tackle stair despair
This won’t be cheap to mend – A new flight of stairs which doesn’t even reach the landing safely, and the stair is already sagging.

Taking steps to tackle stair despair
And once you’ve built it, cover your stair with a carpet that is bound to make you lose your step…

Hannah Mansell, manager of the BWF Stair Scheme, says:

“Stairs are one of the most important aspects of building construction to perfect, and the correct design, manufacture and installation of a stair is safety critical. Every year in the UK here are 450,000 injuries and 550 deaths caused by accidents on stairs.

“A timber stair may seem like just another flatpack furniture challenge. But these are finely engineered structural systems. Builders must carry out a detailed site survey and understand how a stair will be used and who it will be used by, catering for the differing needs of users.

“Take advice from a BWF Stair Scheme member company and you won’t go wrong. It will save you a fortune in expensive and time-consuming repairs later on.”

Download the BWF Stair Scheme Installation Guide here: //stairscheme.bwf.org.uk/stair-installation

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