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Stairway to heaven

May 31, 2012

Before ordering the stairs from Tähtiporras, we got offers also from Porraspuu and Hovinikkarit. We went for Tähtiporras because ultimately we couldn’t get pillars we were looking for from Porraspuu and Hovinikkarit wanted 400 Euro more than Tähtiporras for exactly the same stairs configuration.

The stairs we ordered are in L shape, are stained white and then lacquered. The back of each step is closed off as I will be building one day a storage (=crap I’d like to hide) room underneath the stairs. We included the assembly of the stairs in the deal to be able to blame a professional when the stairs start squeaking (which it eventually will do anyway as it’s made from wood and subject to the changing conditions at the cottage.

One of the usual challenges of stairs in a log home is the fact that the logs will set over time when they drying further. As the villa has been settling already over one year and the logs are made from three layers of logs glued together equaling out the effect of shrinkage partly I estimated that the the second floor will settle about 2 cm in the foreseeable future. As a result the last step is initially two 2 cm higher than the others. The whole stairs are attached on the second floor with a sliding mechanism that allows the second floor to glide down while the stairs stay put.

Working with Tähtiporras was so far a pleasure. The commercial side was handled mostly by their managing director indicating that it must be a smaller company. Tähtiporras was all of the times quick to respond and if the couldn’t respond quickly for whatever reason they also informed me when they would reply. The delivery of the goods was arranged slightly unconventional: the parts arrived on Sunday evening at 21.00 from what seemed to be one of the assembly guys that was driving down from Alajärvi to Helsinki with a delivery van and a trailer which was too short to carry the long pieces of the stairs. Not that I care how they were delivered. They were delivered on the day it was promised with a friendly guy carrying the parts inside of the villa. I was surprised how many parts there were. Looks like that the factory doesn’t assemble anything in advance.

The assembly guy showed up on the following day as promised. The assembly of the stairs took about 5 hours. The assembly guy was fast and friendly (not necessarily talkative but again I didn’t hire any chat company). It was odd to see that he didn’t plan really how he would get the raised up to the second floor. If you assemble a L-shaped object diagonally in a room while the long side of the L only fits exactly into the room length, it’s kind of obvious that you won’t be able to move the object later on in the straight space around the corner. First we started to move the stairs outside of the door to get more space to maneuver, but that naturally works only to some extent and didn’t get us there. Then we tried to push the upper part over the edge of the second floor, but that didn’t work either because the opening in the second floor was too small to get around the corner. Finally, the only thing that helped was to disassemble again the pillars at the bottom of the stairs and the push the stairs over the edge in the second floor, move the long side into position, attach the pillars again, and then have the slide down again to its designated space. Well, I would have thought that a pro has a bit more foresight how to do this but geometry is not everybody’s friend. Anyway, overall I’m happy with the outcome.

As usual, there a little things that need to be corrected still and my ultimate verdict on the quality of Tähtiporras depends on how they will complete the project: the LED lamps we have in every second step were forgotten in the delivery and the groove in the pillars supporting the railing is too wide and the screws used are not the kind you use for a sliding mechanism (see image below).

The assembly guy took responsibility for fixing these things which is an attitude I’ve been missing from some of the assembly guys I have used before. Quite often the assembly crew have a tendency to blame “the factory” or “the sales guy”. Again, Tähtiporras seems to be a small company with the right attitude.

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