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Log Home Stair Construction

What you need to consider when choosing a stairway for your log home

Stairs are one of the most used and hardest working items in your home.  They are pounded, jumped upon and abused more than any other horizontal surface, so they should get more consideration in your planning phase than just “they look good”.  Log stairs in particular can have hidden faults and are prone to eventual failure if these are not addressed in the construction of the stairway.

First and foremost, metal and wood do not play nicely together in stairway construction.  Lag bolts or a treaded rod are often secured in the soft inner core of the log and under normal everyday use, the treads will start to loosen up even if you keep tightening the screws. It’s obvious it will not last and is a construction flaw.  If you ever walked across a squeaky floor or stairs that squeaked, this means that the metal holding these pieces of wood together has failed.

Secondly as mentioned before, the inner core is soft and is easily compressed so that if a long stair life is hoped to be achieved, connections have to be incorporated with the outer shell of the log using wooden dowels and strong rigid glue that dries as hard as a rock.

Thirdly, the glue is very important.  We found that basic carpenters glue does not work well with logs. We discovered a special hybrid poly glue from Scandinavia that works best and nothing moves after it’s glued, which is what you need for a long life of your stairway.

For example the treads on these stairs are all natural they have a 2 1/2″ solid slow growth hard maple dowel. This is like using a baseball bat for a dowel drilled 10″ into the tread for maximum glue strength.

To provide optimal support we drill at a 4 degree angle that mimics the natural strength of a branch into the center post.  We drill through the hard outer crust of the post into the soft inner core and then through the other side of the log into the solid outer layers stopping just short of the outer wall.

The end result is a stair tread solidly glued that mimics a natural tree branch. Our glue has a strength of 7000 lbs. per square inch so this gives approximately 50,000 lbs. of holding strength.  I have personally lifted up a car with one tread just to test its sturdiness.

The stair treads are then capable of supporting the hand railings because they are strong and should never loosen.  The key to building long lasting stairs is keep the wood happy by crafting them in a way that works best for the wood. Happy stairs are healthy stairs!

For more information, visit Log Stairs by Premium Wood Works

 

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