Tiny House Stairs and Storage
One of the most time consuming projects to date is the tiny house stairs. At first, it seems fairly straightforward to put together a staircase. As long as I know the depth, height, and width of each stair, it should all come together without a hitch. Right?
These tiny house stairs serve two purposes. The first one is obvious. It provides a means to get to and from the loft. The second is storage which includes drawers, cupboards, a broom closet, and a pull-out pantry.
Cardboard Tiny House Stairs
Like other areas of the tiny house, I approach this with a few ideas and general plan of attack. Following a similar approach as the tiny house loft closet, the journey begins with a cardboard model. After some trial and error, the look and feel of the tiny house stairs take shape.
I did not want the stairs too close to the window. This makes each stair taller and increases the steepness slightly, but overall is still comfortable for people to easily go up and down.
The next step is to turn the cardboard stairs into wooden stairs. Using 3/4″ (~ 19 mm) plywood, each stair is the same size with the exception of the first step from the great room, and the last step near the loft. Excluding the bottom and top stairs, each stair is 22 inches (~ 56 cm) wide, 7 inches (~18 cm) deep, and 10 inches (~ 25 cm) tall.
It’s starting to look like a staircase! However, someone can’t go up these tiny house stairs quite yet. First, the stairs are secured to the tiny house. This is done with heavy duty brackets that attach underneath each stair and directly to the wall.
In hindsight, I may have picked a different bracket with less of an diagonal brace. However, the brace gives extra support. Each pair of these brackets can hold up to 1,200 lb (~ 544 Kg).
Storage and Stability
Next, I moved onto designing the storage and load-bearing walls so people can actually use the stairs. Instead of cardboard, I took a picture of the staircase. Using the power of technology, I put together a few different ideas.
This layout has plenty of storage. Three drawers, a large storage compartment, a broom closet, a pull-out pantry, and two small cupboards. This storage is primarily for the great room and kitchen. However, the kitchen itself will have plenty of drawers and cupboards.
The framing provides support from the top of the stairs, while partitioning the drawers and cupboards. In hindsight, the vertical walls should have been done as part of the stairs. In the third image below, the stairs were taken apart to add a single sheet of plywood instead of bracing two pieces together. Thankfully, this extra work provides more stability. As a result, two heavy duty brackets were removed as they were no longer needed.
In comparison to the original drawing, the layout is slightly different. The three drawers are together at foot level instead of one above the middle cupboard. Regardless, these walls provide adequate support for the majority of people to go up and down the stairs.
The Pull-Out Pantry
One feature that’s a must have is a Pull-Out Pantry. They hold a lot of items, don’t take up a lot of space, and tucks nicely away. The biggest challenge is lining up the rails in such a small space.
If the rails are off slightly, the misalignment causes rubbing or tension. This affects opening and closing the pantry. Fun times! However, after “some” trial and error, the pantry works perfectly.
Drawers and Doors
All rails, including the ones on the pantry, are Soft-Close Ball Bearing Drawer Slides. These types of rails help prevent damage from slamming either by accident or when the tiny house is moving.
Drawers are at foot level so people can easily reach the entire depth of the space without having to get on their hands and knees. At first, each space except the larger wide space was going to be drawers. However if the higher cupboards are drawers, it will be more difficult to get things in and out. So any space from waist-high is a drawer-less cupboard.
Like the pantry, the rails were the most difficult part. However, with persistence the drawers now open and close with ease. I’m curious to see how the changing seasons may affect the drawers in this way.
Tiny House Stairs Finish Work
Although not difficult, finish work is time consuming. Still, the time and effort are well worth it. Overall, the finish work consists of the face pieces to the drawers, doors, and pantry; The trim around the stairs and between the doors and drawers; and the top of the stairs.
When everything is closed, the drawers and doors are flush. Inset hinges are used for each drawer and door. The hinges on the doors are also soft closing hinges for the same reasons as the drawers.
Finish work is time consuming, but it’s well worth the effort. The idea of storage underneath the stairs is more practical, and it can look just as beautiful as fancy tiny house stairs or ladders.
It is important to plan ahead. Imagine how the space functions during its daily use. Each area of a tiny house provides an opportunity for a mixture of creativity, uniqueness, practicality, and personal touch. In this case, the staircase provides the perfect blend of aesthetics and function.
In all, the total effort of the stairs was 49 hours between two people. So far, it is the most time spent in any one project for the tiny house. However, like other projects it looks fantastic and better than originally thought.