We were recently called out to a site with a dock access stair that had seen better days. It got a lot of use, but by the looks of it, had been neglected from a maintenance standpoint. Enamel paint is a great finish if it is maintained, but when left outside around the salt and high traffic to be found on a dock stair it won’t take long to rust without maintenance.
This stair had the painted stair tread nosings all rusted away to a brittle, porous edge. The stringers and support columns all had given way to rust beyond what was fixable with a repair job.
Dock stairs in need of replacement
The most economical solution for our customer was to have a replacement set of stairs fabricated and hot dipped galvanized. The cost of repair – cutting the current stairs apart, brush/blasting the existing rust out, cutting steel to weld into deteriorated sections, grinding and painting the product – all in the field would have taken much more time than having replacement stairs fabricated in the shop and brought out to the site. Furthermore we didn’t want to put a “Band-Aid” on the existing stairs by repairing them, knowing the customer wanted to have something in place to forget about. Fabricating a new stair with a hot dipped galvanized would greatly increase the lifespan of the stairs. There is no touch-up painting required and galvanized products can last 5x as long as painted steel.
A-Mezz did a site visit to verify conditions and get the existing stair’s measurements. During the visit it was determined that the floor wasn’t completely level. We made the support columns slotted to allow for minor adjustment in the field. This will be more user friendly than making the stair flat and requiring shimming. We didn’t want to fabricate each leg a different length should they one day move it to a new location or have the floor surface refinished in the future.
A-Mezz fabricated and pre-assembled as much of the stair and landing as possible in the shop to minimize the time on site with door access out of service as this was a busy dock entrance door. The existing stairs were demo’d and the new stairs were installed in all one morning.
A-Mezz galvanized steel replacement dock stairs
The customer’s new dock stairs will have a long service life due to the hot dipped galvanized finish. The stairs will be able to tackle snow and ice easily with the bar grating treads, and look attractive for years to come – all at a price that was less than repair.
Installed external IBC staircase
Previously, I had written a blog post briefly discussing how to put one of our mezzanines together. It had a lot of good photos taken during the installation, so I was able to go through section by section what was done. There was one particular area I didn’t get to to over in much detail though; the stairs. While with the previous system that I wrote about, the customer designed and fabricated their own staircase, I recently received a fantastic series of photos from the installation of another system; this time with partially installed stairs included.
Setting up the stairs
The IBC stairs for or mezzanine systems ship in knock down form and need to be installed in the field. When installing them, you’ll want to lay the stringers on the floor about 3’ apart with the closed face of the stringers inward. The diamond tread stair treads consist of a closed back riser and stair tread weldment. Starting with the top tread and riser, you’ll need to bolt the the tread to the stringer fastening it on the inside of the tread. Only hand tighten the bolts at this time, then work your way down positioning the riser of the next tread behind the flat weldment of the nose on the tread above. After all the treads have been attached to the stringers (hand snug) you’ll need to install the bottom riser using self tapping screws. You’ll then need to hoist the stairs up to the mezzanine deck. Making sure that the dimension from the top of the deck to the top tread is equal to the dimension between the other treads, you’ll need to field drill the the attachment holes using a 9/16” drill and attach it to the mezzanine system. You’ll also need to install the top tread plate on top of the mezzanine deck closing off the riser from your first tread. From the underside, you’ll need to tighten up all the bolts and attach the risers to the back of the above tread’s nose via a couple self tapping screws. Afterwards you’ll need to anchor the stairs to the ground.
Now all that’s left is to finish off the handrail. The hoops that form the 21” and 36” handrails and handrail extensions come already welded to the stringers. On each of the uprights, you’ll need to attach an elbow assembly via self tapping screws. This will provide you with the saddles to support the outer 42” handrail. You’ll need to take a piece of guardrail pipe for each side, and lay them flush against the saddles, fixing them in place with self tapping screws once again. As the top line of rail will be longer than the stair run, you’ll want to drop a plumb line from the bottom edge of the rail to the edge of the mezzanine deck and again to the front edge of the bottom stair tread, cutting the pipe square. Finally, you’ll need to install a plastic plug cap in the openings of the top rail to finish it off.