Using LVL’s as Stair Stringers

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  • Using LVL’s as Stair Stringers
    Posted by Jordan Pollard | 5 replies |  Last reply about 5 years and 1 month ago by Jordan Pollard

    On the first few homes we built, the stair treads we used were precast concrete.  Due to the weight of the treads, we ended up using LVL’s (Laminated Veneer Lumber) as the stair stringers. LVL’s are stronger than standard wooden, but because they are laminated, precautions are needed to keep water away from them to prevent de-lamination. In an attempt to weatherproof these stringers, we wrapped them with a cementitious fiber board, which was then caulked and painted. The treads were then attached to the stringers with metal angle bar that was bolted to both the stringer and the tread.

    Over time what we found was that in spite of our best efforts to waterproof, water still found its way to the embedded LVL stair stringer. This then caused the material to de-laminate and lose its structural qualities. Since then, we have inspected and replaced several of these early experiments with standard treated lumber stringers. This was a great lesson for us, because while it is important to often think outside of the box, often best practices and manufacturer recommendations are in place for a reason.

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  • Would annual maintenance, re-sealing or something else, likely prevent similar problems from recurring in the future?

    Kimberly Cadena posted on October 9, 2012
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  • While annual maintenance could help prevent water getting to the LVL, it cannot guarantee that water will not find a way to the LVL. We debated using other waterproofing methods to fix this problem, but in the end, went with a method that is less likely to fail over time.

    Jordan Pollard posted on October 9, 2012
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  • Wow, those concrete treads look heavy. Did you have extra labor expense to install them?

    Taylor Royle posted on October 9, 2012
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  • We did have complaints about the weight from the contractors, but in the cases of these houses, it did not significantly impact the labor costs that were budgeted.

    Jordan Pollard posted on October 9, 2012
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