• In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva explains how to add stairway headroom.


    1 Carefully pry old stair treads from staircase.
    2 Use reciprocating saw to cut out the old stair stringers.
    3 Cut new notched stringers from 2x12s using a circular saw; finish cuts with handsaw.
    4 Attach metal hanger plates to top of each stringer.
    5 Nail metal timber hangers to bottom of each stringer.
    6 Set new stringers into stairway opening.
    7 Fasten top of stringers by nailing through hanger plates and into header.
    8 Secure bottom end of stringers by nailing through the timber hangers.
    9 Nail new risers to stringers.
    10 Rip old treads down to fit new stringers.
    11 Nail the stair treads to the stringers.
    • Difficulty: Moderate to hard
      Requires a good amount of demolition work, and excellent stair-building skills
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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • flat prybar
        Pry bar
      • reciprocating saw
        Reciprocating saw,
        used to cut out old stair stringers
      • framing square
        Framing square,
        for marking cut lines on stringers
      • hand clamps
        Spring clamps,
        used to secure 1x4 guide to framing square
      • circular saw
        Circular saw,
        used to cut new stair stringers
      • hand saw
        used to finish making saw-tooth notches in stringers
      • hammer
      • four-foot level

      Shopping List

      1. 2x12,

      used for stringers

      2. 1x8,

      used for risers

      3. Galvanized metal hanger plates,

      for attaching top of new stringers

      4. Galvanized metal timber hangers,

      for attaching bottom of new stringers

      5. 1x4 guide,

      is clamped to framing square when marking stringers

      6. Assorted nails