Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management
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  1. #1
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    Apr 2019
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    Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    I'm in process of building a metal staircase to attach to my deck and I would appreciate advice on welding the tread plates to the stringers. The stringers are made of 10 X 2 X .188 inch hot rolled tube steel with 6 X 10 X 1/4 inch tread plates that will support 2 X 6 Ipe treads. My plan is to place three (at the ends and center) 1.5-inch mig welds top and bottom of the tread plate. Once painted I will silicone caulk the open areas to prevent corrosion. The stringers are relatively short with 5 treads each.

    My question/concern is do I need to be concerned about the stringers warping from the heat? If yes is there anything I can do to minimize this aside from firmly clamping the stringers in place? Any and all advice is appreciated.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    If you are welding the stair as a.single structure. then warpage.should not.be an issue. Just brace, tack, check braces, tack some more and weld. Assuming the stringer is straight to begin with.

    Will that solid steel tread impact the tread material being outside?

  3. #3
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    Quote Originally Posted by tapwelder View Post
    If you are welding the stair as a.single structure. then warpage.should not.be an issue. Just brace, tack, check braces, tack some more and weld. Assuming the stringer is straight to begin with.

    Will that solid steel tread impact the tread material being outside?
    Thank you. The stringers are surprisingly straight. I just cut the material today and will be having acid dipped to remove the mill scale before I weld it together.

    I'm not sure I understand your question about the tread material. I'm using Ipe, which looks and behaves like teak. Unfortunately, it will require an annual coat of sealer but it won't stain like redwood or cedar if that is what you are asking.
    Last edited by denverguy; 09-14-2019 at 06:27 PM.

  4. #4
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    Ive done lots of them, shouldnt be a problem. Even if you get a little just pull them together as you are putting on the treads.

  5. #5
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    Be sure when adding the wood treads to allow AT LEAST 1/8" space between them for expansion/contraction room to prevent cracking of the wood later on. Is the wood freshly sawn or has it had a chance to season/dry for awhile? I have a recipe to treat the wood so you won't have to do it EVERY year, to preserve the wood. PM me for details. Once applied with my method you won't have to mess with it(re-apply) for 10+ years, but it WILL darken the wood to some extent.

  6. #6
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    Not your question, but you are going to trap moisture between those boards and between the boards and the steel tread plates. Ipe is pretty sturdy stuff outdoors, but the steel is going to rust this way. Also if you are in a freezing climate, this could cause trouble with the trapped water expanding when freezing. Perhaps you have already thought of this, and it just does not show on this one sketch you posted.
    -Dave
    XMT304, 22A Feeder

  7. #7
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    you wont have a problem with 5 treads a stringer. more than that you could, and there are several ways to compensate.


    i wouldn't worry about expansion/ contraction, or moisture with Ipe. i'm sure your aware to seal the end grain and not allow to over dry. we do allot of Ipe decks in my area.

    be sure to post up the finished product!
    General Contractor
    Commercial Industrial & Custom Residential
    Specializing in all things Metal

  8. #8
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    Just seems like a solid bottom would trap/hold water. Water and ice tends to be very patient. Fungus may be an unnessary concern with teak and ipe. However, I could see separation occurring with freeze cycles. Might just be a Tennessee concern, since we can have rainy winters that occasionally freezes. Good luck with your project.

  9. #9
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    Apr 2019
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    Thanks to all for the feedback.

    There is no water management currently. After reading the suggestions/concerns, I will probably saw kerf a couple of channels where the treads mount to the tread plate to allow for drainage.

    I am in the Denver area and while we do have daily freeze/thaw throughout winter months, the climate is bone dry with 300+ days of intense sun. UV damage is usually a bigger concern than moisture. The stairs will be south facing, any snow/water won't sit on them for long.

    I will most definitely seal the end grain, I've used Ipe on prior projects and have seen what happens to the unsealed drops.

    Attached is a picture as the project sits today waiting on my concrete contractor to pour the deck and stair pads- it's a pretty large project as it involves creating a forced walkout with a fair amount of excavation and foundation work. The deck itself is a composite concrete/steel pan decking over structural steel.

    Thanks again for all the input.

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  10. #10
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    It has be some time since I updated this thread. I'm finally making some progress on the stairs. Here a few pictures ranging from a test fit to building out the upper stringers and landing.

    Oh, turns out that I asked the wrong question, the real challenge was managing warp from the weld that forms the dogleg. The stinger did pick up a negligible warp of about a 1/16 of an inch from welding the tread plates.

    Test fitting of the upper stringers before adding the tread platesName:  IMG_20191105_170236.jpg
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    Welding the tread plates to the north and south stringersName:  IMG_20191109_151357.jpg
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    I stitch welded the plates with three 2 inch welds on the top of each plate and two 2 inch welds on the bottomName:  IMG_20191109_115350.jpg
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    Connecting the two stringers. Name:  IMG_20191110_180730.jpg
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  11. #11
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    looks good.

    curious. did you compensate for the tread thickness? top and bottom rise looks the same as the others?

  12. #12
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    Thanks.

    I did compensate for the tread thickness. Note that the top horizontal channel in the last picture is temporary and not reflective of the actual height of the top step in relation to the deck. I'm using it to maintain the proper width while building out the structure.

    I also noted the tread plates look out of plane on the left stringer in the last picture and they are not.

  13. #13
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    Looking good!

  14. #14
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    Re: Stair Stringer Build Advice - Heat/Warp Management

    Here is the latest, I installed the lower stringers today. I haven't had much time to work it lately...Name:  IMG_20191124_160325.jpg
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    I need to finish welding the tacks on what you see, add two more tread plates then start on the railing...Oh, and sweep my floor.
    Last edited by denverguy; 11-24-2019 at 08:07 PM.

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