Wednesday 1 May 2019

Stairway To Paradise

After the big push to get the kitchen wing holiday-let apartment in "show house condition" for the open day, work is now progressing in the rest of the castle. Accordingly. Gregor and Greg have been rebuilding the entrance stairs which take guests from the entrance hall to the grand saloon.

Balintore Castle's reconstructed entrance stair.

It is amazing to think that this stair area had no roof when I bought the castle, and the interior was fully open to the elements. Amongst the rubble, I discovered a much rotted part of a "stringer" i.e. the stepped piece of wood which supports stairs, which gave the original dimensions of the treads and risers. In fact, there was another route to these sizes, as the original plans show 12 treads and the floor-to-floor height is 6 feet so the risers come in at 141 mm. The gotya is that the number of risers is one more than the number of treads, so you have to divide 6 feet by 13. Accurate measurements with a laser level showed the floor-to-floor height as being nearer 73 inches, so we upped the riser height to 143 mm and this thankfully worked perfectly in-situ. 

Also in the rubble,  was some inch-thick pitch pine planking which once must have covered the stairs. Interestingly in the level area at the top of the stairs, I found narrower oak planking, which presumably once connected with the grand saloon's oak floor. You can see in the rebuild, we have constructed the treads from solid wooden beams i.e. even more over engineered than the original. The risers are just in OSB as these do not take any load. The whole staircase will be clad in hardwood flooring - see the dark brown sample on the left above the first step. So what you can actually see in the photo is the sub-structure of support for the staircase proper.

I can't wait for the hardwood cladding to be installed as this will give the final high quality finish. However, before then the walls have to be plaster-boarded - the idea being that we won't be messing up the hardwood in the process. 

We are all pretty chuffed with the stairs: they are so solid and they are not going to move for the next few hundred years. Prior to this rebuild,  the brick and stone slope underneath was treacherous particularly when it was raining. I have lost my footing on the green slime on this slope many a time. Even when the roof was on, the slope was sufficiently steep that I still lost my footing often, and shoes with a good grip were required to make the ascension.

The stairs are 8 feet wide. You can see the central support beam in the photo required due to the width. Normal stairs only have to be supported at the edges. 

Now that they are complete and navigable, they taken on a decidedly processional character. In lieu of any Ziegfield Girls, I have had to do my own Stairway to Paradise moves, not, it has to be said, without enjoyment.


  1. I can well imagine your great excitement! Congrats! How thrilling!

  2. Hi!! I'm new here, catching up on your blog. I'm from US, and just noticed you using 'feet' and 'inches'?? Why is it I think y'all use only the metric system?? Just nibby, sorry. Just lovin' this. Am in awe....

    1. Most people in the UK use both metric and imperial, depending on the task at hand and the direction of the wind. Measuring the castle makes sense in old units as it will come out as a round number.

      The UK was supposed to switch to metric in 1970. It only half worked. Vegetable are sold by the Kg, but distances are largely given in miles not kilometres.

      Glad you are enjoying.