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How do I child-proof these stairs?
Old 07-02-2015, 03:40 PM   #1
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How do I child-proof these stairs?

DS is on the way, and it will be a while before he is walking, but I'm wondering how to child-proof these stairs on the open side, or at least to keep him from being able to get on the stairs at all.
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Old 07-02-2015, 03:50 PM   #2
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Here's some photos to give you ideas

Child Proofing Open Stairs - Yahoo Search Results Yahoo Image Search Results

I did a search on "childproofing open stairs" and selected the image results link. Click on the blue Show More Images at the bottom of the first set of images to see the rest of the photos.
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Old 07-02-2015, 03:51 PM   #3
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DS is on the way, and it will be a while before he is walking, but I'm wondering how to child-proof these stairs on the open side, or at least to keep him from being able to get on the stairs at all.
Note that as I understand it the stairs don't meet any building codes due to the lack of a railing on the open side. So the first step would be to put a railing on the open side with ballisters about 6 inches apart to make sure that no one can fall thru. (check with the local building code for exact spacing details).
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Old 07-02-2015, 03:56 PM   #4
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Note that as I understand it the stairs don't meet any building codes due to the lack of a railing on the open side.
Yes, but was hoping to put off the baluster project for a while...
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Old 07-02-2015, 03:57 PM   #5
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Note that as I understand it the stairs don't meet any building codes due to the lack of a railing on the open side. So the first step would be to put a railing on the open side with ballisters about 6 inches apart to make sure that no one can fall thru. (check with the local building code for exact spacing details).
+1

This is an interesting photo - the stairs in our previous house were exactly the same design, but had a railing and balusters. Once you have that, closing off the bottom is much easier.
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Old 07-02-2015, 04:31 PM   #6
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Not meeting building codes is true, but the bigger issue is the fact that a child dropping from one of those top steps would likely suffer tragic if not fatal injuries. You really don't have much choice but to install balusters that meet code. Kids are incredibly capable at defeating gates and obstacles, don't try that. DD lived in a 4 story townhouse (totaled maybe 1300 sf; it was London) with three kids at the time. While no baluster danger, they pretty quickly learned where not to go. However, there's a big difference between a tumble down some stairs and one off the high height you have.

Just suck it up, let your inner architect cry a few tears, and make it safe for the little one!
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Old 07-02-2015, 05:57 PM   #7
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I agree. This is not a project to procrastinate. I think the code says a 4 inch sphere cannot pass through. Look up your local code before you start. I built custom gates with matching balistares when the kids were small. A magnet held them against the wall when not in use. Came in handy for years when little ones visited.
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Old 07-02-2015, 06:20 PM   #8
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Try a Google image search for "baby fence for stairs" You'll see some creative uses for the baby play-yards to block off the bottom of the stairways.
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Old 07-02-2015, 06:27 PM   #9
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While I agree with following code, if you don't, how about a good "baby gate" at the top? If he starts at the bottom, you just have to bite the bullet and do it right.
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Old 07-02-2015, 06:42 PM   #10
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A 'baby gate' won't do the job but for a month or two once the babe begins to crawl. Do the right thing and provide a proper baluster.
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Old 07-02-2015, 07:27 PM   #11
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Yes to complete railings or a half wall coming down the stairs, and hinged, permanently attached and locking baby gates at both top and bottom. Congrats on DS's imminent arrival. Your protective instincts will swell mightily soon.
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Old 07-02-2015, 07:37 PM   #12
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Yes, but was hoping to put off the baluster project for a while...
You would have to do it before you sell your house in any event since the lack of a railing is not up to code. Just bite the bullet and do it... it'll be out of the way and will be safe for your coming DS.

If you have a guest who falls on those stairs you could have a liability issue as well.
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Old 07-02-2015, 08:36 PM   #13
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I would get a few cans of that spray foam insulation, the orange stuff that expands exponentially. Fill the entire stairway with it, then cut a tunnel through it to allow access up the stairs. You can either trim the outside and paint it to look like a wall, or leave it natural for a sort of cave man look. Perfect safety.
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Old 07-02-2015, 08:37 PM   #14
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If you are a father, job number one is making your child safe.

If you can't make the changes, find someone who can
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Old 07-02-2015, 08:38 PM   #15
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Might as well do both at once.

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Old 07-02-2015, 08:49 PM   #16
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I would get a few cans of that spray foam insulation, the orange stuff that expands exponentially. Fill the entire stairway with it, then cut a tunnel through it to allow access up the stairs. You can either trim the outside and paint it to look like a wall, or leave it natural for a sort of cave man look. Perfect safety.
I would like to hire you as my GC! But it might be more cost-effective to just spray foam the baby in a giant sphere...
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Old 07-03-2015, 05:10 PM   #17
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Agreed on the baluster, I've never, ever, seen an open staircase like that. And I'd bet your homeowner's insurance underwriter would have apoplexy at the sight of it too. There might even be a coverage exclusion in the policy for stuff that doesn't meet code, meaning you'd be on the hook yourself if a guest fell and was injured or worse.
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Old 07-03-2015, 05:30 PM   #18
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Agreed on the baluster, I've never, ever, seen an open staircase like that. And I'd bet your homeowner's insurance underwriter would have apoplexy at the sight of it too. There might even be a coverage exclusion in the policy for stuff that doesn't meet code, meaning you'd be on the hook yourself if a guest fell and was injured or worse.
Of course the issue is when the stairs were built what was the code? Houses are expected to meet the code at the time of building or major remodeling, not necessarily the current code. I recall my grandparents house built in the 1920s for example had essentially an open basement stair (all be it with no baluster railings on each side. Of course the fundamental reason for putting in rails and balusters is safety and with a kid coming it makes sense to do so. Of course safety has increased in the 1950s when I grew up cabinet doors did not have child proof locks nor did electric outlets get covers, nor did I ride in a child seat (they were not around then).
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Old 07-03-2015, 05:49 PM   #19
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Of course safety has increased in the 1950s when I grew up cabinet doors did not have child proof locks nor did electric outlets get covers, nor did I ride in a child seat (they were not around then).
Oh yes. I was born in 1950 so we grew up without all that safety stuff then too. Seat belts? Never heard of 'em. Bicycle helmets? I doubt they were even made then. And yes I did blow a fuse when I stuck a screwdriver in an outlet and on and on....

It's a wonder we survived.
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Old 07-03-2015, 06:41 PM   #20
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Oh yes. I was born in 1950 so we grew up without all that safety stuff then too. Seat belts? Never heard of 'em. Bicycle helmets? I doubt they were even made then. And yes I did blow a fuse when I stuck a screwdriver in an outlet and on and on....

It's a wonder we survived.
I once stuck a plug 1/2 into a socket and tried to cut them off with a metal scissors. Blew a fuse.
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