Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions

 
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Old 11-06-2017, 12:01 PM   #1
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Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


So I have been using Ipe (5/4) to replace the decks/patios on my home in the Berkeley hills and have been extremely happy with how its turned out. The next area that I need to replace/repair is the front staircase (96 stairs from driveway to front door)which currently is in pretty rough shape. Over all, I am replacing stringers for each set of stairs and adding a center stringer to accommodate the ipe thickness, the current treads are 3'' knotty redwood. so far I have a pretty good handle on things, however I am looking for input as to the best option for fastening the treads. Having already used ipe for decking, I am quite familiar with the hidden fasteners options, but being such a large exposed High traffic staircase I am wondering if I may be better off in the long run fastening the treads with face screws and then plugging them nice and tight. my other option is stainless brackets, although at 1500$ for the hardware alone It seems like less of an option. I had someone recommend this product to me http://www.abswood.com/deck-master-hidden-fastener and was told I could cut the brackets to fit my treads. I have no experience with the product but I bought a box just to see how they were built and they seem sorta crappy, also Im not sure how the powder coating will react with the ipe over time. I know they make other hidden (plastic) clips but like I said I worry about treads popping loose due lack of grab. maybe I'm just being finicky since its my house and I like things done right. the first time.
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Old 11-06-2017, 02:38 PM   #2
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


forgot to include photos. they really don't do the elevation change justice though, I've lost 40lbs and quit smoking since closing escrow last year. the realtor was really slick about not including any of the front stairs in the listing photos, and used the title of the listing "stairway to tranquility"


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Old 11-06-2017, 05:20 PM   #3
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


What exactly is your question?
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Old 11-06-2017, 06:45 PM   #4
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


so I would like to know which hidden fasteners are best for ipe treads. or if face screws countersunk and plugged would be a wiser decision long term. I have used several types of hidden fasteners on my decking, but have not used them to hold treads to the extent that this job entails. My apologies for not being clear in my OP.
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Old 11-06-2017, 07:13 PM   #5
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


Extreme Ipe clips are the only ones I've ever used and the only ones I would suggest using. Thing is you're going to need to face screw/plug those on the outside edge anyway why not screw/plug all?
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Old 11-06-2017, 07:40 PM   #6
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


I'd just screw them. Plugging that much ipe is going to SUCK and I honestly don't think that a well laid out screw pattern with SS trim head screws looks bad. You're talking about at least 1200 plugs and they're not on the same plane so sanding is going to be a lot more time-consuming.
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Old 11-06-2017, 10:57 PM   #7
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


Does the cortex plug setup work for ipe? I dont think Id want to countersink all those manually and then cut bungs. If you could precut the treads and predrill the countersinks on a drill press Id consider it.
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Old 11-06-2017, 11:21 PM   #8
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


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Does the cortex plug setup work for ipe? I dont think Id want to countersink all those manually and then cut bungs. If you could precut the treads and predrill the countersinks on a drill press Id consider it.
No. You need to buy the plugs, predrill with 3/16" bit and then a forstner bit.


I'm not even that big a fan of cortex for pvc/composite on stairs. They tend to split the stringers. I use them, but predrill.
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Old 11-10-2017, 09:29 AM   #9
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


I really appreciate all the feedback everyone! After thinking on things and the feedback I decided to just go ahead and facescrew/plug everything. The Stairs will get A LOT of traffic as they are the only access to the front door (aside from using the sherpa and going mountaineering!) so I would like them to be as solid as they can be.

Generally I always cut my own plugs from the waste of each piece as to match the plug as close to perfect as I can get. However, there being over 1000 of them and they are ipe, I will likely buy plugs from my ipe supplier. I was going to just use a forstner bit and predrill unless someone has a recommendation for a countersink/plug system. I was considering Pro-plug http://www.starbornindustries.com/pro-plug but I don't know. something about plugs that you don't need to plane down doesn't sit quite right (literally and figuratively!).
the pro plug bit does look nifty though, sort of like the fastcap setup.
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Old 11-10-2017, 06:39 PM   #10
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


I only use fuller countersinks and bung cutters. I glue in the bungs. If you have a small laminate router you can set up a router bit and clean off the bungs very close and then sand them flush to finish. Honestly though, for that many steps, Id just face screw them with stainless and set the heads flush and call it done.
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Old 11-10-2017, 09:08 PM   #11
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


ProPlug it and finish up with a 30 grit 6 sander. I would sand all ipe if its getting an oil finish; the finish on the boards we get have chatter marks from the milling process. Looks like crap with a shiny layer of ipe oil on top of it.


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Old 11-11-2017, 10:59 AM   #12
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


the pro plug system works well... the caveat being knowing when the bit is going to break, before it actually breaks I find the best work around is to set up a jig on a drill press which will give you perfect layout and precise control over the bit which equates to a much longer lifespan...
also when you do the actual install, check stringer for knots and pre drill accordingly
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Old 11-11-2017, 05:25 PM   #13
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


I agree the proplug system works well. Definitely by the plugs, I tried to find a plug cutter to make my own before but, failed to ever find one that would make more that a few without getting clogged up.
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Old 11-14-2017, 06:44 AM   #14
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


re: breaking drill bits, I typically run two drills. One has the drill bit and the second has the countersink. pushing hard on the countersink puts a higher chance on breaking the drill bits, less frustration this way.
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Old 11-17-2017, 08:53 AM   #15
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


thanks for all the input everyone! I went ahead and ordered the proplug kit and plugs. like I said its normally my preference to just save each boards waste and use it for plugs, just to get the color/grain matched perfect. but after breaking 3 plug cutters this week just trying to get the plug out of them after theyre cut, I just said screw it buy the plugs I can always carefully select the precuts to match my wood. all I need now is a couple new blades for my kapex and I can get jamming on installing these things! oh and I also need it to stop raining! also does anyone have experience using the festool laminate blade for cutting ipe on the kapex? FOG recommends using it, though I have done 2 decks and a balcony so far using the 80tpi fine blade with no issues or real complaints. I'm getting the 2 pack anyways (60tpi+80tpi) but figured I would see if anyone has a preference.
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Old 11-17-2017, 09:24 PM   #16
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


To remove plugs after cutting I either pop them with a flathead screwdriver(small amount) or bandsaw the whole board at the plug depth for large quantities. Personally, I just buy them.
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Old 11-17-2017, 10:17 PM   #17
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Re: Exterior Ipe Staircase Questions


for cutting ipe I used a fresh blade on the cordless circular saw. this stuff is as hard as nails and as long as you have a good cutting technique (use a square if necessary) the end result works well.

buying plugs more than pays for the cutters and time it takes. I knock the tops off with a chisel and sand flush. by picking through the pack you can choose similar color, it's not going to stand out that much.

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