Step by step

Our story so far: Among the treasures unearthed during demolition of the old Methodist church we planned to turn into our home was a choir loft on the second floor. We decided to open it up to the sanctuary and build a balcony. A distinctive balcony required a distinctive stairway.

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Chapter 28

Among the benefits of living a mile away from the spiral stairs manufacturer was getting to see—in person—the (ahem, excuse the cliché) step-by-step construction of our stairway.

After we visited the manufacturer when Tyler first uncovered the balcony during demolition in January, the proprietress had befriended us, so she invited us over whenever one of the artisans had a question about some element of masterpiece that would someday grace our great room. The spiral was constructed in total at the manufacturer facility, to be delivered whole. Like the fireplace had many parts I couldn’t name before buying one, so is a stairway.

welding stairway
A welder works on the center pillar of our stair.

After determining the height and diameter of the spiral stairway with the benefit of careful measurements in March, we pawed through some of the proprietress’ leftover balusters in April to cut costs on our stairway. Balusters are the columns that support the rail. We selected a 4:1 mix of industrial hammered balusters and traditional basket balusters.

newell post stairway
Here’s our newel post. Sideways for now.

Then we chose a newel—the post at the foot of the flight of stairs. We selected a giant-sized version of the basket baluster.

stairway pole
The pillar upon which everything spiral revolves.

(In the case of a spiral stairway, the pillar supporting the staircase may also be called a newel.)

Treads? We went with the industrial diamond plate.

Clockwise or counterclockwise spiral? Ours would be clockwise going up.

Our stairway is prepared for painting.

Color? Painted black. It was May.

Railing? We waffled on this decision, first selecting a smooth vinyl cover for the flat rail, but in a last-minute decision in early June we went with just the flat steel handrail.

Our engineering-minded spiral proprietress also helped Tyler determine proper basement floor support for the steel structure that would weigh about eight-hundred pounds.

Finally, we had worked through every detail, and delivery day the first week in June arrived.

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Tomorrow: It takes a village. How’s that? Read about it here.

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