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Ideas to Make These Stairs Safer

Hello everyone,


I'm a first time home-buyer under contract for a home that has the basement staircase positioned about 3 feet directly in front of the back door.  I would like to figure out how to put some kind of door at the top of the stairs to prevent someone inadvertenly slipping and falling down the stairs (say when they come inside on a wet day).  With kids and dogs in the house it seems like a safety issue I should address.

The challenge is how to fit a door at the top of the stairs at minimal cost and which will create minimal interference with the back door opening as it should.  So far the most likely solution seems to be a dutch barn door opening inwards (towards the stairs), but I would really prefer it open outward so that in case someone does fall against it there is a lower chance of it comming open.   I'll attach pictures of the area as it is now as well as a photo of a dutch barn door that I think may work.  

Would like opinions of anyone who's interested.  Aside from costs and issues I might not be aware of, one burning question I have is does the door need to mounted to a stud behind the drywall (I would think yes).  If there is no stud in the right location, what is the next best solution?  A total remodel of this area isn't in my budget.  What would you do to make it safer?   What should be the cost to do something like this?  How involved of a project would it be to install a "real" door in this location? The ceiling is quite high and I imagine would have to be brought down in order to frame a standard door. Interested in creative solutions others have employed in similar situations.


Thanks in adavance!

Re: Ideas to Make These Stairs Safer

As far as cost of time and materials, no one here can answer that.

I would look at the county to see what rules you need to follow for doors and stairs.

You should have the framing attached to the studs using at least lag screws or nails. Using one half of a dutch door is an idea, but the county inspector will be able to tell you if that is feasible. I would use a solid wood door in that location, as opposed to a hollow core door. This is where some of the differences in price would come in. And this is one of the many reasons no one can give a price. A good contractor will be able to add a door to that area and will be able to cover all joints to where it will look as if the house was designed to have a door there.


Handy Andy in Mt Airy NC

Re: Ideas to Make These Stairs Safer

Thanks for your ideas about lag screws and a solid door, Andrew!

There are actually no building codes in my county, so anything goes for this project. Today I began seriously considering the pros and cons of making the exterior door an outward swinging door (with the newer security hinges that can't be opened when the door is closed).  That way I'd have more clearance and less to worry about with the basement door also swinging outward.  Thoughts?   


I'm trying to get as much info and ideas as I can before contacting any contractors....I want to know exactly what I want (more or less) instead of letting a random person do what they think should be done.

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