DIY Network

How to Find Space Under Stairs

Host Karl Champley shows you how to put the wasted space under a staircase to use.

More in Remodeling

  • Time

    Under Half Day

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate

Highlights:

Step 1: Take a Look

Space under the stairs is easy to ignore because it's so well hidden. If the stairs aren't carpeted, carefully pry up a tread and use a flashlight to look underneath. If prying up a tread isn't an option, cut a small inspection hole in the drywall – it's much easier to patch a small drywall hole than replace a large piece.

Step 2: Check the Support

If the space checks out, knock a larger inspection hole between two wall studs and take a closer look. Most stairs are well-supported at the top and bottom of the stringers. Make sure the stairs have this kind of stability before proceeding. Check with a structural engineer to determine if the wall is load-bearing – never remove studs from a load-bearing wall.

Step 3: Cut the Closet Hole

Locate the studs in the wall and determine the position for the closet door. Use a reciprocating saw or a drywall saw to cut the drywall – but not the studs – to accommodate the closet door.

Safety Alert: Reciprocating saws are powerful and can have a strong "kick." If you're not confident you can control the tool safely, get assistance or use a different tool.

Step 4: Cut the Office Hole

Score a level line from the closet hole to the bottom of the stair stringer and cut the drywall along this line. Also cut away the drywall along the bottom of the stair stringer.

Step 5: Remove the Studs and Clean

Use a reciprocating saw to cut the tops of the studs in the closet hole and the office hole. With the tops cut, pry the studs away from the footers.

Clean out the space under the stairs thoroughly before proceeding with any construction.

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