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Don't know if this is the right place. Forgive me if I'm wrong. Installing a hidden trap door

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Forum topic by 1thumb posted 12-24-2012 08:55 PM 955 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1thumb

78 posts in 851 days


12-24-2012 08:55 PM

I’ll try to be brief. A client has a rarely used staircase located in the back of his kitchen, one flight that goes down to the basement, nothing more. The railings and newel’s for this stairway are approx. 4 feet behind the island which holds the sink, bar stools, etc. So if removed, he would double the space behind the island, he needs the extra room.

What I’m trying to come up with is a way to cover the stair opening with matching hardwood flooring and at the same time allow access to the staircase. The width of the existing opening is approx. 36 inches. A rough guess is that I’d need to allow any trap door, access door, to fold, roll back at least 60 inches so the stairs could still be used without having to crawl on one’s hands and knee’s. So I’m looking at a section approx 36×60. at least.

Since access is needed I can’t simply frame in the 36 inch opening with joists unless I get borderline insane and design a hanger system to hold joists that would also allow the joists, subfloor and hardwood floor to be lifted out of the way for access to the stairway. But I need support for walking on top of this. W/o joists, 3/4 subfloor spanning the 36” opening, I don’t think is ample.

So I need to come up with a safe and relatively simple way for walking on this and also for opening for stair access. Where I’m at now is doubled up 3/4 ply spanning the 36” opening and resting on 2 by’s on each side under the existing floor, then hardwood that to match existing. Then I’m considering 3-4 piano hinges or something similar whereas the finished floor, the doubled up ply can be lifted in manageable segments, folded upon each other far enough out of the way to allow a six foot tall person to easily walk down the stairs w/o stooping

Hope this made sense and I appreciate all ideas and suggestions.


29 replies so far

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a1Jim

112361 posts in 2272 days


#1 posted 12-24-2012 11:01 PM

It’s a little difficult to picture with out photos or a drawing. Have you considered a sliding cover like they use on some boats perhaps 1 1/8 osb?

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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a1Jim

112361 posts in 2272 days


#2 posted 12-24-2012 11:14 PM

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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1thumb

78 posts in 851 days


#3 posted 12-24-2012 11:41 PM

Thanks Jim and sorry for no pics or drawing. Imagine a one flight open staircase coming up from the basement and landing on the kitchen floor. The opening on the kitchen floor is approx 36” x 72”, w/rails, newell posts and bullnosing around the edges. At the 2nd or 3rd step as you come up from the basement, your head is level with the kitchen floor and you land on the kitchen floor behind the mentioned island. That opening needs to be covered, hardwood laid to match existing yet allow access to the staircase on somewhat rare occasions. Now, I’ve probably made it even more difficult to picture, yes?

Like the sliding theme but can’t sit on, above the floor. Basically need a patch that planes out w/finished floor and can fairly easily be removed to allow full access to the staircase.

Edit: After looking again at the top picture you posted, I think I can make that happen. Just need the hatch when closed to plane out w/existing. Thanks, great idea.

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a1Jim

112361 posts in 2272 days


#4 posted 12-24-2012 11:53 PM

If your slider was built like photo #2 but with the side rails connected to you joist low enough that 3/4” floor could be applied on top making it even with the existing floor ,it could even be operated by a garage door opener if there’s room in the basement.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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Tedster

2271 posts in 906 days


#5 posted 12-24-2012 11:56 PM

You can make 3 separate doors rather than one overly heavy door.

-- I support the 28th Amendment. http://www.wolf-pac.com/28th

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RonInOhio

720 posts in 1559 days


#6 posted 12-25-2012 12:11 AM

Spiral stairs ?

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MT_Stringer

2022 posts in 1926 days


#7 posted 12-25-2012 12:17 AM

Is it possible to build an island on casters so it will cover the opening and can be moved if access to the basement is needed? Or…???

Or does your client just want walking room. It seems to me something could be put there that is usefull, yet moveable.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

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1thumb

78 posts in 851 days


#8 posted 12-25-2012 12:22 AM

“low enough that 3/4” floor could be applied on top making it even with the existing floor…”
Jim, how would it clear the existing when opening?

Thought about that Ted, piano type hinges, fold the floor onto itself 2-3 times. I think the hinges would have to be screwed into the subfloor the osb edges, don’t know if screws would hold.

Too much money Ron. He’s got it but isn’t going to give it up for this.

“Or does your client just want walking room. It seems to me something could be put there that is usefull, yet moveable.”
Wants the walking room MT

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MNgary

235 posts in 1112 days


#9 posted 12-25-2012 01:54 AM

Without getting into structural specifics, I would approach the dilemna by hinging on the long side and letting the floor/door rest against the wall when open.

I think insetting barn door hinges into the trap door (exposed on the flooring but recessed into the flooring surface) will enhance recognition and intrigue r.e. the trap door as well as structural integrity beyond piano hinges.

Why try to conceal the trap door, instead use it to add architectural interest to the kitchen floor.

You mentioned the existing opening is 36” wide, when all is said and done having a 30 or 32 inch opening to a kithen celler should be functionally adequate.

-- I dream of the world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

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Don W

15269 posts in 1263 days


#10 posted 12-25-2012 02:00 AM

Make the door in 2 pieces so you have 2 18” x 60” doors. Have a removable or sliding joist sit under the seem.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

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Wdwerker

333 posts in 928 days


#11 posted 12-25-2012 02:01 AM

Remember the door to the Grandpa’s lab on ” The Munsters” ? It was hinged and swung up with a counterweight. The dragon”Spot ” lived under the swing up staircase.

-- Fine Custom Woodwork since 1978

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a1Jim

112361 posts in 2272 days


#12 posted 12-25-2012 02:51 AM

1thumb
It’s kind of hard to work it out with out knowing how the joist run in the basement and what the clearance is if you made a sliding hatch and even if I did it would be hard to explain how to do it. Are you a contractor?

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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1thumb

78 posts in 851 days


#13 posted 12-25-2012 11:37 AM

Finish/trim carpentry contractor, not a GC

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Howie

2656 posts in 1618 days


#14 posted 12-25-2012 11:53 AM

Don’t suppose there is any option of relocating the door somewhere else?

-- Life is good.

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1thumb

78 posts in 851 days


#15 posted 12-25-2012 12:16 PM

Nope Howie, can’t move

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