I am removing the 1st floor wall section of my stairs. The stairs were constructed with stringers under the treads, but a closed skirt board was attached. I have removed the walls surrounding the stairs and the old skirt board.

Should I add a false stringer mounted all the way at the ends of the new, longer, treads or should I build a small wall with different height top plates to effectively make a stringer but provides a nailing surface for drywall?

EDIT: Sorry, I really asked by question poorly...

The stairs are supported by 3, strong, full length stringers. I will not be changing the construction of structural part of these stairs. The two outside stringers are right at the edge of the current tread.

Open stairs is exactly what I am doing, in fact I have already finished opening them... What I need to do is build a wall on either side of the outside stringers to support the last few inches of new, longer, tread as well as support new drywall. Note that that last 2' of the first floor wall, which previously enclosed the stairs, is still present.

My question is actually about the construction of this new wall. Should I basically just build a stair shaped wall? Should I install a false stringer to get the stair shape, or just make the stair shape from 2x4s? I want to be able to bring drywall right up to the bottom of the new treads.

  • How old is the house? Are the treads routed into the skirtboard on the sides? Pictures would be invaluable. I have done this before.
    – Jack
    Dec 23, 2013 at 23:48
  • I do have pictures, I will get them up shortly. The treads are not routed into the skirt boards.
    – Jay
    Dec 24, 2013 at 2:55
  • It seems like you are saying (without stating) that you want open stairs, if they are sturdy enough. If they are not sturdy enough, you would be willing to support the existing (side) stringers with a wall (or two?) underneath. Are you asking if the side skirting that was removed has weakened the stair? Stringer depth, tread rise and run, tread count and any signs of over cutting the stringer, would be helpful in analyzing your stair.
    – HerrBag
    Dec 24, 2013 at 4:53
  • You would do well to involve your building inspector and get a book on stair building. The original and new width will be a factor in determining if additional framing is needed. Out of curiosity, is there a center stringer now?
    – HerrBag
    Dec 24, 2013 at 5:01
  • 1
    I edited my original question, my response was way too long to fit in the comment box.
    – Jay
    Dec 24, 2013 at 10:57

1 Answer 1


There are 2 ways to do this, the first way is in essence just cutting the wall at the top of the skirt board and capping it off and setting the handrail on top of the cap that is finishing off the cut wall, sounds a bit crude, but essentially that describes what you will have.enter image description hereenter image description here

The up side to this is you will not need to do a floor repair, depending on where your wall ends where the newel will be.

The other way to do it is by removing the wall entirely, repairing the floor, removing the treads and risers, and set longer ones with return nosings on either side. and re-support the stairs with a new walls under the existing carriages.enter image description hereenter image description here

This is the most work, but will give the best result in my opinion.

Jan. 2, 2014 edit

Here is the work I did in 1989 that shows what I did.Stair1Stair2Stair3 This one shows the best example of the effect I was trying to explain. I do not have a shot that shows how the handrail goes past the ceiling, but with a little imagination you could picture what the rail would have to do if the stairs were much wider at the bottom.Stair4Stair5Stair6

Edit #2

I did a little calculating to help, if it mayenter image description here

  • Regarding option 2. Is there a reason for notching the new wall to fit the carriages, or could the new wall be built slightly further out, basically where the old wall was.
    – Jay
    Jan 2, 2014 at 21:33
  • Yes you could, there again, there are pros and cons. The purpose of notching the new wall to fit under the stairs will keep the stairs for the most part intact for use. The second thing is the path of the handrail. If the carriages are left as the framing to finish to, that will keep the handrail path in one continuous line. If the treads were increased in size to cover the original wall, the handrail would have to jog around the place where the first and second floor meet. To meet code it would take a hand rail fixture that makes a zig-zag around that area. Out of room in the comment box...
    – Jack
    Jan 2, 2014 at 23:14
  • In my opinion, the jog needed to do the wider stair version will really detract form the completed system. The ceiling will get in the way real fast and make the jog be visible in a place I feel in not optimal. I will post a picture I did of a stairwell in the 80s that shows what I mean about the run of the handrail and how the walls work with the stairs
    – Jack
    Jan 3, 2014 at 0:02
  • Do you have the name of the black and white carpet you installed?
    – Amy
    Nov 13, 2018 at 19:46
  • That particular picture was from Pinterest just to show an example for the treatment of a handrail. I did not build that one....
    – Jack
    Nov 14, 2018 at 5:47

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