loft ladder + stair details

We first showed you the loft ladder in this post from January, but since then we removed all of the wood pieces and took them down to the basement to be finished. For the treads, Kyle applied two coats of OSMO hardwax oil and for the handrails he used Daly’s Satinthane. With all the wood in our house, we now like the finishing process about as much as we like painting white walls…which is why it took us so long to wrap this project up. But it’s done!

On a related note, can you believe that one year ago we were prepping for the big demo weekend? 365 days people. It exhausts me just to think about it.

For the basement stair handrail, Kyle fabricated custom wall brackets that are welded to a piece of tube steel that runs the length of the stair. The wood cap is a piece of 2×2 vertical grain fir notched to fit over the steel. It’s a sexy little detail and the added strength of the steel means less deflection and fewer wall brackets. The wood provides a comfortable place for your hand. The brackets are attached to the wall either at a stud location or in blocking that was installed before drywall went up.



19 Responses to “loft ladder + stair details”

  1. LauraC says:

    Ah-mazing! I can’t believe that you designed and built that whole thing yourselves. It’s beautiful and you should be SOOOO proud of yourselves!

  2. Lena says:

    This is truely a big accomplishment! Beautifully planned and made!
    I was just looking at some of the older photos and I am amazed of what you’ve done to your house. You can be very proud of yourselfs!!

  3. Sammi says:

    Awesome awesome awesome! Always love your ideas and the way you execute them to perfection. Makes me wanna trade-in my hubby for a new-improved ‘handy-man’ model. Any idea where I can do that? Heh heh! 🙂

  4. katie says:

    the details are fantastic, truly impressive!

  5. Paul says:

    A very handsome-looking and functional. solution to your problem. I am curious to know why you used two different wood finish products. I will be getting to some wood refinishing projects of my own and am exploring all the alternatives.

    I am a regular reader of your posts now. Thanks for creating such a great blog.


    • Kyle Z says:

      Hey Paul,

      We used the osmo on the floors because it’s spot repairable so we just went with it for the stair and loft ladder treads as well since they’ll get heavy foot traffic. Probably could have used it on the handrail too but the satinthane doesn’t run as much so it was much easier to apply to the very small pieces of wood. Also the handrails won’t get as much abuse so the osmo wasn’t necessary.

  6. Chris says:

    Turned out great! Well done with the welding and the wood work, Kyle!

  7. Liz F. says:

    Phenomenal. You guys amaze me. The way you max out the usability and style of a small house inspires me every time I visit your blog.

    • chezerbey says:

      Thanks Liz! That’s been a major goal of ours through this whole process and we’re glad it’s finally coming together!

  8. hjc says:

    As with everything you do – amazingly well done! Also amazing the work you have accomplished in 365 days – from demo to done! Now if you could just bottle your crazy creativity – imagine what that would sell for an ounce.

  9. Meg says:

    My sentiments seem to be reverberated by all; simply gorgeous!

    Let me back up by first thanking you for sharing your experiences, projects and lives with us. Only recently did I learn of your blog (after reading its mentioning in Dwell), and I’ve been hooked ever since!

    I am dating an architect and find that I have a new level of understanding for “your breed” (please know that is meant with all warmth and admiration humanly possible!). I noticed your ending note of this post regarding attachments to the wall at studs or blocking installed prior to drywall and wondered to myself, ‘is that a typical thing to do; install blocking for a railing before drywall’s installed? Those architects, they really do seem to think about EVERYTHING!’ Not only is it about how it will look, but how it affects what’s INSIDE the wall…and the fifty-seven steps between…and everything else I’m oblivious about.

    As I said, I may be showing my complete ignorance by not knowing if it’s normal or not to install blocking for a handrail. Nevertheless, it’s a small example of something I’ve learned from reading your blog and another item to add to the ever growing list of why I’d probably not make a very good architect!

    So, thanks again for sharing the details and documenting the process; it’s such an inspiration!

    • chezerbey says:

      Wow, thank you Meg!

      We definitely are our own breed! =)

      Blocking is typically installed for things like handrails, towel bars and other items that will hang from the wall and are heavy or will be pulled on. (If someone pulled hard on a handrail that was just attached to the drywall, it would eventually come out, which could be a real safety hazard.) Adding blocking between studs also means that you have more freedom where something can go, without relying on finding a stud location. There are other ways to anchor things into existing walls, but since we had all the framing exposed we took the opportunity to add blocking anywhere we thought we might need it (for example, we also added it at our steel ledge locations and where our future floating media cabinet will go).

  10. Eden says:

    I am amazed by what you and your husband have done in so short a time! we are renovating too (and doing all the work as well) and I understand the time and love that goes into all the details! your home is simply stunning. I just came across your blog through dwell and I’m so happy I did! it’s been so fun to go back through the blog.

    thanks for sharing your beautiful home,

  11. Wow, way to go! Congrats to you and Kyle for not only completing the reno but also giving us a detailed play by play of the whole thing as it was happening! Even though I’m an interior designer, I have learned (or in some cases tried to learn-pictures always help tremendously) more about the inside workings of a home. I truly hope to have an architect consult on my own reno someday as I see how invaluable your knowledge is.
    I also can’t believe I’ve been following this blog for a year now!!! Its probably seemed like forever to you, but its flown by for me. I’ve enjoyed it entirely. Thanks!

  12. Gregory says:

    Great look and craftsmanship, it really caught my eye and I’m going to adapt your design to one for my tiny house loft ladder. One question I have though is regarding the treads,. Those look like 3/4″ pieces – about 1/8 for the dado on the underside to cover the 12 ga. or so steel tread. That means just over 1/2″ of tread. I see 8 screws on the underside. Are you happy with the hold and strength of < 1/2" screws? I would be concerned unless you also supplemented the screws with some construction adhesive optimized for wood to metal union. Please advise as I am serious about modifying this design. I weld and woodwork and love how this combines two of my passions in a highly complementary design.



  13. Gregory says:

    Also, Kyle if you don’t mind sharing about the metal fab, I have a few questions. Did you sandblast/flap wheel/wire brush/etch to remove all the mill scale first before priming and painting? Or did you leave it on with minimal prep? I’ve just finished a project where I merely degreased and wiped off the degreaser and then primed and it seemed to take the paint fine, but it hasn’t seen any hard wear and tear so I’m not sure. Please explain your fab metal prep to paint process and any brand of primer or paint you used. I dig the eggshell black finish; very high end looking. Thanks.



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