Sunday 3 January 2010

A Door on the Stairs

We really love our staircase - it has opened up a whole new life for us, making the upper rooms of the house usable.

They have, however, presented us with one problem.

The stairs go all the way up to the attic. Owing to the way walls and roofs were put together in the old days, we have a 30cm (about 1') gap between the walls and the roof where a soffit board would normally go. This gap allows a nice breeze to keep the roofspace cool and the wooden beams dry and rot free.

Our problem is that word breeze - there is nothing to stop a freezing wind howling through the same gap, nor is there anything to stop all our nicely warmed air escaping. This means that although we can heat the front room to nearly sauna conditions, the rest of the house remains arctic. I have effected a temporary fix - the metres of bubblewrap we bought from London around delicate electronics had been pressed into service as a curtain - and it works quite well. I have taped and pinned it, and although it flaps a bit when the wind gets up, it does stop most of the breeze. We must have had a fairly strong wind while we were away in Australia - there were gaps all around the bubblewrap which required further taping - you can see in the photo that I have applied the new lot of tape with some gusto.

It is only a temporary measure. In the fullness of time I will be putting in a door across the gap. We had a door on the old staircase, but it was at the foot of the second flight of steps, and made the whole staircase very dark. My new plan is to have a door half way up the stairs, thus allowing more light on to the lower flight.

It took ages to work out how to do this, which is why it didn't get built before winter set in. There is no way I am taking down the temporary screen while it is still so cold (a very heavy frost yesterday morning), so the building work will have to wait until spring arrives.

At least I know what I have to do, and have plenty of time to get myself mentally prepared for the job. I am not the world's best woodworker, and I am filled (filled, I tell you) with trepidation at the thought of building something that will be in place for ever. That means it has to be perfect so as not to totally detract from the beauty of the stairs.

Come back in April, I may be able to tell you how it went!



Anonymous said...

Happy new year.
Hhmm, Sorry Simon that looks naff.
What is wrong in curing the original gap problem?

Simon said...

The door is on the second flight of stairs, and will only be seen from the doorway of the guest bedroom. The original door was at the foot of the second flight of stairs, and made everything dark.

Unfortunately, there is no way of totally sealing the roofspace off - it needs the ventilation.

Autolycus said...

Do the local building regulations allow you to have a door opening outwards over a staircase like that?

Anonymous said...

Roofs! love the pics of roofs and architectural details through-out your blog.

Heres my two cents...

Try a more energy efficient means of ventilating your eaves and attic space.

After all, it's only your money ;-) I'll go back to lurking...

Unknown said...

Ouch! A door positioned in such a way is in severe violation of safety codes here. You may incur some SAMU visits and need to make the house wheelchair accessible. But what a fine stairway it is.

chm said...

I think it would be OK if there was some sort of landing. But a door right in the middle of a flight of stairs is very dangerous. And not convenient to open it in your way up. The knob will probably be either too high or too low depending on the way, up or down, you negotiate the stairs.

Jean said...

I had a door like that once. It was at the top of a flight of stairs that had been removed but the door was left behind. Consequently it opened into fresh air. On the other side of the door was a staircase on the outside of the house. One night we had burglars.....they climbed the outside stairs and forced the door open. They left with nothing and were lucky not to fall and break their necks. They didn't come back !

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