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I have a tall stairwell leading up to my attic 'den' and I was thinking about building a table top onto the railings to create a space for some turntables, mixer and laptop. Initially I thought I'd build it from wood, but experiments have made me see that even covering about a third of the stairwell makes it horribly dark. So I thought I could make a table top out of some transparent, heavy duty acrylic or polycarbonate that could be drilled and bolted onto the stair rails and take the weight of the kit (around 25-30kg).

Can anyone recommend a suitable material for loadbearing applications such as this? And any observations about thickness required, solving any sag issues, mounting techniques and so on would be very gratefully received.

Here's a crude schematic:

Schematic

Photo of the room: Photo of room

Dimensions would be approx 135cm x 750 cm.

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    Pictures might be helpful - I am guessing the railings are a U shape and stairwell is more in a center area of room and you want to go across those railings ? – Ken Jan 8 '18 at 8:26
  • Yes exactly that. Please see addition to my original post. – 5arx Jan 8 '18 at 11:25
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    You still need to identify how this mounts to the far wall, opposite the railing. I am assuming this is going over the stairs in such a way as to maintain headroom for someone ascending. Without any attachment on that side, I'm afraid it's unlikely you'll find any good solutions that don't involve structural bracing. – Hari Ganti Jan 8 '18 at 19:34
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    I think I would install a nice LED light underneath any table I create on top of that stair railings - that way I could utilize the additional space of the stairwell railings for my table and have the lighting I need to go up and down those stairs. – Ken Jan 16 '18 at 0:34
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    I would point out that once your clear table is covered with turntables, mixer, etc. that it won't be all that transparent. LED lights underneath sound like a cool idea. – Stanwood Feb 12 '18 at 4:08
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I'd like some more project details, but 10kg isn't really that much of a load, but it all depends on how everything is supported. If the load is cantilevered out 1m from the anchors, then you're going to need much thicker platforms than if you have doubly-supported structures.

If you're into laser cutting things, acrylic is laser cuttable, which makes it easier to work with. Unfortunately, it has a tendency to shatter when it breaks. In this case, you'll want a thick enough piece to keep the material stress below failure. Without knowing how it's supported, it's impossible to say how thick to make this, but I doubt you could go wrong with anything greater than 1/2" or 12mm.

If you plan to cut the panels with a saw, then polycarbonate is probably the best option. Impact/shatter-resistant, it's unlikely to break at all. For this material, you'll want it to be thicker to prevent it from deflecting. It's not about strength, but stiffness. 1/4" or 6mm could be enough, but, again, it depends so much on geometry.

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It would be good to prototype your concept before purchasing materials.

The idea is to uncover unexpected issues inexpensively and reversibly.

Get a chunk of 3/4 inch plywood (or something equivalent) that is about the right size and put it across the stair rails as your drawing illustrates.

  • Is this a good height for your equipment?
  • How dark are the stairs (keep in mind that even if you go with something transparent you will be putting equipment on the surface that will block light. All my horizontal surfaces end up being completely covered with stuff over time. I think horizontal surfaces are magnetic.)
  • How will you run wires to your equipment?
  • Evaluate what kind of screws or bolts would work to hold the surface in place. Screws and bolts will damage the stair rail. Will it matter?
  • What kind of bracing, if any, will be needed?
  • Will you need a raised edge on the right or left side of the table to keep things from falling off the table and down the stairs?

An inexpensive easy to remove prototype will uncover a host of things it's difficult to predict.

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