I will be making a staircase frame like the one below, but just now it strikes me that it will weigh about 200 kg (around 400 lb) and one end need to be lift 3.5 m off the ground.

How can I lift it to the correct spot to screw it in the concrete beam? Every contraption that I thought about doesn't seem like it is going to work (some are hard to move around, others are hard to lift, etc).

enter image description here

Some pictures from the site:

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  • 1
    If the total dead weight is 400lbs, you need only the capacity to life one end, or 200lbs ... and even that diminishes as the the end gets higher and higher. That can easily be accomplished using a 2x4 on edge as a lever. With a fulcrum at 20% the length, it will take less than a 50lb downward force. For example, a 5' 2-by with the fulcrum at 1'.
    – mike
    Oct 13, 2013 at 2:47
  • @mike, the idea is sound, but I couldn't quite picture the setup you described. Can you expand on that? Oct 13, 2013 at 3:06
  • Sure. Can you post a couple of photos of where it will be installed?
    – mike
    Oct 13, 2013 at 3:32
  • @mike, tomorrow I will go to the site and take some pictures. Oct 13, 2013 at 12:02
  • great, I'll create an answer based on the photos.
    – mike
    Oct 13, 2013 at 18:25

5 Answers 5


A block and tackle (pulley and rope).

A simple fixed pully provides no mechanical advantage. A moving pulley does. Each time you add another moving pulley, you reduce the effort needed to move something. In general every time you double the length of the rope, you halve the effort (perceived weight).

pulley system

In the illustration, the pulleys are both doubles, something like these.

double pulley

One pulley is attached to the stair structure, the other to an eye screwed into a stud facing the stair, or to a stud above and forward on the wall alongside the stair.

The rope is attached to an eye above the wall pulley then threaded to the opposing pulley, back to the wall pulley and so forth.

A block at the foot of the structure prevents it from sliding.

This type of setup can reduce the load to about 1/4 of the actual weight (maybe 100 lbs.) More pulleys and rope can reduce it further, but you get more friction and more chance of tangled lines.

This is definitely a multi-person project. You need help in pulling the rope and in guiding the structure, and maybe someone else to place a supporting brace under the unit when it is in place.


To avoid any tie in to the walls, you can get a hydraulic jack very cheaply (maybe $20) that can lift several tons but only about 6 to 12 inches at a time.

hydraulic jack

You could do this, chocking the unit at each lift, then raising the base of the jack on a wooden block and doing it again.

This requires careful blocking and patience. It also gives you less ability to shift laterally, but it could work.

  • I realise that it is a multi-person, I'm thinking that in the best case I need at least four people: one on top and one on the bottom cheking alignment, one checking step level, and one moving it aroung AFTER it is hanging from something like this pulley. The solution you describe could work, but I would rather find a solution that doesn't require to affix anything on the walls around the staircase (and this would require at least two large bolts on a beam). Oct 13, 2013 at 1:55
  • I liked the idea of a hydraulic jack, I will try to work some way to make it work. Oct 13, 2013 at 3:08
  • 1
    @LuizBorges, regarding the pulley approach, if the treads aren't in place on the stringer beam of the staircase, perhaps you could use some scaffolding to hang the pulley from, directly above the anchor point of the top of the stringer beam, rather than attaching a pulley to the opposite wall. Personally I think this vertical pulley approach is the least dangerous and most straightforward approach.
    – mac
    Oct 14, 2013 at 17:01
  • @LuizBorges I agree that a pulley is safer and more flexible. The scaffolding is a great idea. A tripod could be built to lift the unit.
    – bib
    Oct 14, 2013 at 22:27

I was going to suggest a come- along from ceiling, wall or 2nd story floor. but sounds like you don't want to attach anything. Only other thing I can think of is to rent a beam lift. It might not be as safe but should be made to work.

  • Using a come-a-long for a direct pull (from the stringer to the ceiling) means that the operator will be in-line with a cable-under-tension, which is quite dangerous.
    – mike
    Oct 15, 2013 at 0:52

Hanger bolts
enter image description here
Hanger bolts

Thanks for posting the location photos. From counting the rungs on the ladder in the photos, it looks like the ceiling is about 8'. Also, from the photos it's not clear whether or not that 6x16" beam will support the weight of the stairs. I am sure you have already thought about this.

Per my comments ...

If the stringer has a total dead weight is 400 pounds, you need only the capacity to life one end, or 200lbs ... and even that diminishes as the the end gets higher and higher.

If four people available as per your comment, I suggest

  1. put the bottom end of the stringer on a furniture dolly (or similar)
  2. station one person on the upper floor who is ...
  3. belaying the stringer with a safety rope that can be cinched and tied off at-will.
  4. three people on the ground floor lifting the stringer up onto...
  5. pre-attached hanger bolts (or tight fitting through-bolts) ...

As the stringer is raised, the weight will drop, and two people can carry it on their shoulders (perhaps with a yoke), walking their end up two pre-positioned step ladders to the stringer's final height, while the third person manipulates the furniture dolly. Once the stringer is raised on the hanger bolts, the hanger bolts will immediately support all the weight and stabilize the stringer. At which time the person on the upper floor can put on the nut, and the bottom end of the string take off the dolly and move into place.

One person can do it alone

  1. Attach hangerbolts to the 6x16 beam so that they are in place to immediately carry the weight of the stairs. If you wish to use through bolts, then predrill the holes that will be tight on the bolt shank. For either, make a cardboard template of the drill hole layout using the stringer mounting plate.
  2. Place the bottom end of the stinger on a 4-wheeled furniture dolly (or similar)
  3. Swing the top end of the stringer so that it is directly underneath the hanger bolts (if the stringer can lay on the floor at an angle to the wall if there is not enough floor room)
  4. Create a 2' high fulcrum out of, for example, 2 lengths of 2x4 and a triangle of plywood, or two triangles of 3/4" plywood screwed together.
  5. Place the fulcrum on the upper floor near at the edge of stairwell and secure it in place
  6. Create a lever out of, say, a 5 ft length of 4x4
  7. At the end of the 4x4, drive a couple 1.5" screws 1" into the top side
  8. Place the 4x4 on the fulcrum with about 1' (20%) overhanging the stairwell. Letting it overhang by 20% will give a 1:4 advantage, requiring a 50lb force. If you are comfortable with more force, a 25% overhang will give a 1:3 advantage, requiring a 70 pound force. 33% will give a 1:2 advantage, requiring a 100lb force
  9. Raise the other end to level, and set it on something else that is the same height
  10. Fold a 60' length of 1/2" rope into four 15' lengths. Lay it out straight.
  11. Tie the loose ends together in a knot
  12. Grab the knot the and fold such that you have 2 15' loops on either side
  13. Drape the rope over the 4x4 next to the screws with the knot and fold on top of the 4x4 and the loops hanging over either side.
  14. On the ground floor, twist each loop 90 degrees and slide the two loops under the top end of stringer.
  15. On the upper floor, take the slack out of the rope by pulling up on the knot, then tying a second knot
  16. Drop a safety line off the upper floor and tie it into the top end of the stringer, and tie it off taught on an anchor on the upper floor.
  17. Raise the stringer 6-12" (depending on % overhang) by pushing the free end of the lever 2' down to the floor. Stand or sit on the 4x4 and secure it in-place by tilting onto end of the lever of the end an 80lb sandbag (or similar) or by wedging it down with a long 2x4 against the upper floor's ceiling, or by flipping over a short loop of rope secured to the floor, or a screw eye and hook.
  18. Take the slack out of the safety-rope and re-tie it
  19. On the ground floor, block up the stringer in place, using, blocks of wood. as the end is raised, block up the stringer using the steps of a step ladder along with blocks of wood.
  20. On the upper floor, release the lever and lift the free level onto its rest
  21. Take the slack out of the working-rope by pulling on the knot, then re-tie the knot
  22. Repeat
  23. For the final repeat, to get the stringer to the correct height, the lever will need to pushed down only part way. at that point place appropriate blocking under the free end of the lever and secure it there.
  24. Take the slack out of the safety-rope and re-tie it
  25. Adjust the bottom end of the stringer into final place
  26. Roll the dolly out from underneath the stringer.
  27. Tread the nuts onto the hanger bolts

Furniture Dolly:

enter image description here

  • The next floor is 3.5 meters, or about 11.6 feet. I'm not at home now, as soon as get there I will give your answer a proper read. Oct 15, 2013 at 1:03
  • With the 11th rung being at the decking, 11.6' means the ladder steps would be well over 12" apart. I'm curious, how big are those beams? 4x12 or 6x16"
    – mike
    Oct 15, 2013 at 1:06
  • The beam are reinforced concrete 15x30 cm (about 6x12"). And yes I thought about affixing the stairs to the small beam (the one where the ladder is resting) and the floor. Do you think this could be a problem? I think that I can place a steel pillar in the middle of the stairs to help support it, but I would rather not. Oct 15, 2013 at 1:15
  • I presume the stringer is metal, something like a 4 x 10 x 0.5" steel tube. Can the mounting plate that is welded onto the stringer at the top be L-shaped (upside down L) so that it hangs on the edge of the upper floor?
    – mike
    Oct 15, 2013 at 1:21
  • Yes, it is metal (I started with those dimension 4 x 6 x 1/4, do you think it is not enough?), and it could be L shaped, but I don't think it will need this, I thought about something like that for the top plate (with 3 or 4 bolts): acadiastairs.com/images/singlestringer/… Oct 15, 2013 at 1:22

Block and Tackle Method

In Brief:

Attach a 2-sheave block to the floor upstairs, 2-3' from edge of the stairwell, and the other block to the top of the stringer resting on the floor directly below. The rope in the block and pulley system will have a 90 degree bend at the edge of the stairwell. To reduce friction, using plumbing tape or similar, strap a length of 3" pipe onto the face of the 6x16 beam at it's top, using 1x2 or 2x4 cleats to keep it from rolling out of place. Raise the stringer by pulling from the ground floor, standing away from the string, off to the side.

enter image description here


You need to create a stop at the top and the bottom. You could bolt a 2x4 temporarily on the top where the staircase can sit. Measurements need to be exact so you can set it and forget it.

The bottom stop will be about a 2x4 width away of where it should be to give you wiggle room while you are moving it up. You and 2 friends should be able to easily lift one end up. Optionally one of the guys could use a rope at the top to pull up on the staircase. I know 400 pounds seems like a lot but you are only lifting one end.

Also you have the side wall to lean it on to displace weight too. I would get it against that side wall and slide it up. Set it on my bracing. Then add another 2x4 or shims on your bottom stop to keep it from sliding. I have done heavier stairs this way.

  • This won't work. If a 'stop' is placed there, the stringer will hit the ceiling.
    – mike
    Oct 15, 2013 at 0:12
  • @mike huh? why?
    – DMoore
    Oct 15, 2013 at 0:40
  • With a 'stop' placed 3.5" back, there won't be enough clearance. It's a mute point, because the stop is not necessary. In fact, in the OP's original photo (the example photo) it looks like the wall at the foot of the stairs was similarly obstructive, requiring the stringer to be laid on the floor at 180 degrees, then raised to vertical, then moved/rotated/lowered into position.
    – mike
    Oct 15, 2013 at 0:55

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