Materials

Hardwood Characteristics

The natural growth of hardwood trees gives every staircase its own unique character. A variation in tree’s growth, caused by weather and forest conditions throughout the years, creates variations in grain and color. All of these unique features assure that you have an authentic solid wood product.
Every effort is made to assure only the finest quality hardwoods are used in our stairs. Components are manufactured in our mill, so that we may further control their quality and tolerances.

Each wood species has its own unique characteristics. When we quote your stair, we include a short description of the wood species you have requested pricing on, so that you can be educated on the characters your particular species.

At Designed Stairs, quality begins in the forest. We purchase raw lumber only from conscientious forestry companies who comply with the Forest Stewardship Council principles and criteria for forest management.

We purchase the highest quality premium select natural hardwoods available. This lumber is carefully air dried for several months, then kiln dried to a moisture content of not more than 8%. Upon arrival, it is inspected once again for quality and moisture content. The material is then cut to size with laser guided automated ripsaws and cross cut saws. The boards are inspected again to ensure that they are free from knots and defects that would affect appearance or durability. Next, boards are glued together using an industrial high strength glue and a gluing process that matches the grain and color. All components are inspected and checked for proper size, adhering to our commitment to quality and old world craftsmanship.

Whether we are building a standard design or a custom design, we hold to the highest quality standards. We meet and exceed quality standards set by these industry regulating authorities.

• AWI (Architectural Woodwork Institute)
Widely accepted as the authority for custom woodwork quality standards.

• NHLA (National Hardwood Lumber Association)
Widely accepted as the authority for maintaining quality standards and grading rules for the hardwood lumber industry

Schedule Your Stair, for Quality Control at the Job Site

When your stair is installed can have a lot to do with how it turns out in the end. Schedule your installation for after your drywall has been taped, sanded, and primed. The drywall process can cause damage to the stair. Drywall mud and paint overspray can make the stair finishing process very difficult and may even make desired results impossible to achieve.

Job Site Handing of Your Staircase

Care must also be taken to protect the stair from dirt and mud. Most hardwoods are an open grain wood and when dirt gets embedded in open grain it is very difficult to remove, even with sanding. This will have a negative effect on the appearance and texture of the finish.

NEVER COVER THE STAIRS WITH PLASTIC. Plastic does not allow airflow, trapping moisture underneath and causing the wood to expand and contract. This expansion and contraction causes the wood joints to open up and may cause the wood to crack.

When Designed Stairs Installs

Our Installers brush off the shavings and blow off the dust. Then finally, they cover the treads and risers with red rosin paper. Depending on the status of the construction project, you may want to further cover the stair with cardboard. The cardboard is important in winter or rainy weather when you expect a lot of sloppy traffic up and down the stairs.

Acclimation to the Job Site

The environmental conditions inside the house are critical to the quality of the stair. Designed Stairs uses lumber that has been dried through a very controlled process to a moisture content of 6 – 8%. This matches the moisture content inside the average home and allows the wood to remain stable under normal conditions.

In cold climates, when a house is heated to a high temperature in winter, the air can become very dry, causing the wood to shrink. This shrinkage can make cracks visible in the wood and joints may begin to open up. Subjecting a stair to high levels of heat is like putting it in an oven and will accelerate the deterioration of the stair.

All hardwoods must be sealed on all sides to retard movement and protect from exposure to elements and damage. It is recommended to seal wood immediately.

Finishing Your Hardwood Staircase

The sooner the stair is finished the less potential for damage to the raw wood and the better the quality of the finish. Woods such as cherry and maple, which are affected by sun or artificial light, should be finished immediately to limit coloration changes.

Although the stair has already been sanded to a level ready for finishing by Designed Stairs, for best results some additional preparation is recommended prior to applying stain. Your finisher should do a light sanding of all parts. First, he should do a careful inspection of the stair with a light to detect any damage that may have taken place after installation. This sort of damage is usually minimal and can be easily sanded out. Dirt or mud on the stairs can often be removed with paint thinner or lacquer thinner, whichever is compatible with the finish. A light sanding should always follow this cleaning. Just prior to application of the finish, the stair should be blown off and wiped with a tack rag to remove any fine dust.

If you have further questions, do no hesitate to ask. We have years of experience in species from harvesting thru finishing, and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Going Green

“Green” building products are manufactured with renewable resources and use processes resulting in minimal environmental impact.

While recent media has shown the positive impact that “Going Green” can have on the environment, Designed Stairs has been conducting “Green-minded” practices for over two decades.

Designed Stairs only purchases lumber from responsible suppliers that practice sustainable forestry practices. Designed Stairs’ hardwood lumber grows in closely managed forests. Only specifically selected trees are harvested for lumber, allowing the forest to naturally renew itself. Since hardwood lumber is used in its natural state, there is little processing required compared to sheet goods (plywood) or man-made products. Since wood is a natural product, the small amount of waste created is either biodegradable or recyclable. Designed Stairs uses a large portion of our wood scrap to heat our 50,000 sq. ft. Dimension Mill Building.

Third-party forest certification, based on standards developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), is available for “green certification.” The certification verifies that the wood products come from well-managed forests. The wood product is no different than the wood DSI normally uses. If the certification from the FSC is critical for you, we are able to purchase wood that has been certified. The cost for FSC certified lumber may exceed 60% of the standard material costs for the same species.

FSC Certified Wood Products — Third-party forest certification, based on standards developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), is the best way to ensure that wood products come from well-managed forests. Wood products must go through a chain-of-custody certification process to carry an FSC stamp. Manufactured wood products can meet the FSC certification requirements with less than 100% certified wood content through percentage-based claims. With a few special-case exceptions, any non-salvaged solid-wood product and most other wood products must be FSC-certified to be included in GreenSpec. A few manufactured wood products, including engineered lumber and particleboard or MDF, can be included if they have other environmental advantages—such as absence of formaldehyde binders. Engineered wood products in GreenSpec do not qualify by virtue of their resource efficiency benefits alone.