I'm looking to build a reading nook under some stairs but there currently seems to be a support structure of some kind that I would like to remove. I've tried finding if this setup is part of code or just good practice but so far have been unable to find anything except for a mention related to very long exterior deck stairs.

The length of the stairs are just shy of 10 feet. Here is an image of the support structure under the stairs.

enter image description here

Here are a couple more shots of the stairs:

At a minimum I would like to remove the cross bracing but if I can remove all of it (there are some boards that run to the back of the stairs at the bottom) I would like to so that the area is a little wider.

Is this something I can take down, either partially or completely?

  • It's not clear exactly what you want to remove. Are you talking about the cross bracing (the wood in an X shape), or something else?
    – Tester101
    Dec 27 '15 at 23:43
  • At a minimum the cross bracing but if I could remove the rest to widen that area I would like to do that as well. Dec 27 '15 at 23:47
  • Including the side wall to the left of the paint can?
    – Niall C.
    Dec 27 '15 at 23:49
  • 1
    We'll have to see how the stairs are attached at the top, and any other structural support, before an accurate answer can be provided. Even then, you might need to have an engineer take a look. You don't want the stairs to collapse, especially with somebody on and/or under them.
    – Tester101
    Dec 27 '15 at 23:53
  • @NiallC. No, the side wall will stay up. Dec 27 '15 at 23:55

Stair structure

The post that I point out looks like it is notched around the angled stair carriage, an important detail. The wall sounds like you want to keep in place anyway....

Other parts could be removed but the stair would be bouncy, and would need reinforcement to make it act right.

  • So you are saying that removing the boards across the opening would make the stairs bouncy? I noticed the notch too and it's the reason I hesitated to remove anything connected to those boards. Dec 28 '15 at 1:45
  • That notched 2X is connected to the floor and will keep the base stable. The diagonals and horizontals above and below serve no purpose anymore. Each tread and riser board add to the rigidity of the system that the diagonals first supplied. Besides, if one side is attached to a full height wall, I don't understand why the diagonals were there in the first place. The white piece at the bottom can go too.
    – Jack
    Dec 28 '15 at 5:00

I am concerned that one side of the top of this stairway is not properly supported. Looking at one of the additional pictures....

enter image description here

It would be helpful to get a better and more inclusive picture in the area indicated by my blue line. The stair jack on this side appears that it is simply ending at a cantilevered joist that is unsupported. The notched hole just below my blue line seems to imply that there may have been a vertical support coming down from this point at one time. This side of the stairway could be quite bouncy.


I'd do two things to make it safe to remove all bracing and wall material under these stairs:

1) Improve the anchoring of the stringers at the top using adjustable-angle joist hangers, simple angle brackets, or any other suitable mechanism. Use construction adhesive wherever possible to add strength and prevent squeaks. Nail per manufacturer's spec.

2) Glue and screw 2x4 (or 2x6 ripped to the maximum available width) lengthwise to the inner faces of the stringers to act as stiffeners. Select lumber that has few, small knots. With only two stringers, this is critical. I'm assuming here that your stairs are no wider than 36". If they're wider, add a third stringer in the center and also sister lumber to its sides.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.