Whether they are indoors or out, spiral or straight, or with a quarter or half landing, stairs are an integral element in the design of many homes. When they are in good repair, stairways offer homeowners an effective--and sometimes elegant--way to get from one place to another. When they've fallen into disrepair, however, stairs can be treacherous. Many difficulties can beset a flight of stairs, and since their function is such a crucial one in our day-to-day lives, making repairs and keeping stairs safe is of the utmost importance.
Determining the right DIY repair, or even calling the right professional to repair your stairs, is highly dependent on what your stairs are made of. Wooden stairs are far and away the most do-it-yourself friendly variety on the market. Repairs to stairs of concrete, metal, or synthetic lumber on the other hand may be impossible without the help of a trained professional (or even the manufacturer of the stairs)! Obviously, some wood stairways are easier to repair than others, and some stairs--though relatively easy to repair--may be of such fine quality that a professional hand will be wanted anyway.
Of course, there are some common stair ailments that have simple solutions. Here are a few easy stair repairs you can definitely perform on your own.
1.Squeaky Stair Fixes
...even calling the right professional for the job is highly dependent on what your stairs are made of...
A squeaky stair signifies one single problem: Friction. Somewhere within the offending stair is a loose piece of wood that is rubbing against either another piece of wood or a nail or screw every time weight is put on the stair. Old stairs squeak more because they have had more time to settle and become loose; to fix the problem, you must stop the friction. This can be done either by securing the stair elements more tightly together with screws or, if you have access to the underside of the staircase, filling the gaps between loose stairway elements with wooden shims.
2.Loose Railing Fixes
When it comes to safety, a sturdy railing is every bit as important as a sound stairway. Railings that are attached to the wall rather than to posts on the stairs themselves are often secured with screws. Over time, these screws can become loose or stripped. Instead of trying to screw the railing back into the wall directly, consider removing the railing from the wall entirely, screwing it securely to a long, sturdy board, and then securing the board to the wall. This will give you more surface area to mount the railing back onto the wall and will hide any remnants of holes left from the previous installation.
3.Maintain Outdoor Wood Stairs
Outdoor wood must deal with a lot of abuse, and while indoor stairs and railings can be neglected for decades, outdoor wood stairs must be attended to annually. If your outdoor wood has been unmaintained for many years, a thorough sanding of the exposed surfaces is probably a good idea to reduce the chances of splinters. Once your surfaces are smoothed out, seal them with an appropriate outdoor wood product to prevent damage due to sunlight, moisture, and insect damage.
Of course, there are plenty of difficulties that most of us simply do not have the time and/or the skill to fix properly. When it's time to call for stairway repair, make sure to contact at least three different professionals and get quotes from each one before you decide who to hire. This will give you a better idea of the going rate for your project and allow you to make a more informed choice when you pick your contractor. On the day of service, make sure to remove all items from the stairs as well as the landings and any area the person you hire may need to occupy. This is not only courteous, it ensures that you will not be billed an hourly rate for the contractor to remove obstacles him or herself.