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In the past, an old miller's ladder gave access to this attic. Since then, the space has been laid out and an oak staircase replaces the ladder. It remained to create the entourage of the hopper, as much for the sake of aesthetics as security.

Staircase: A masonry railing

The trunk, made for the staircase, leads to a chipboard floor that covers the original one, in rough planks and isolated by 15 cm of glass wool. The opening is delimited on one side by a wall supporting another floor, raised about ten centimeters from the previous one. A large oak beam, carrying the original floor, bounds the opposite side.
Such level differences are common in older homes. Often, over the years, they have been the subject of extensions using recovery materials, without much concern for verticality and horizontality. This complicates the transformations to be undertaken later... In this case, it is a question of closing the hopper on three sides by associating elements menuisés and tiles of plaster.

Woodworking

The last step of the staircase arrives at the level of the agglo floor: it supports the arrival post of the banister, which emerges from the hopper beam side. The work begins with the installation on the raised floor of a second post of 80 x 80 mm, from which will start a first rise in plaster tiles. 2.60 m high and with chamfered edges, it must align with the arrival post of the ramp. Adjusted to plumb, its low fixing is ensured by a long flat iron bracket, while it is bolted at the top on a frame entry.
Agglo floorboards are too soft to provide a good foundation for masonry edges. They are cut (with the jigsaw), as well as the insulation, on two sides of the hopper to access the original floors. Planks of 27 x 150 mm are then tapped in these bookings, flush with the opening.
The staircase banister can not be used as a support for plaster tiles and must be doubled with another 80 x 60 x 1000 mm oak. The latter, a few centimeters away, is positioned on a reinforcing board and fixed by two connecting brackets placed in opposition.

Masonry

To form an effective railing, the entourage is built with two rows of plaster tiles: about one meter high for each side. But given the difference in floor level, one of the edges will necessarily be higher than the other two. Mounted first, it connects the 2.60 m long pole to a rafter of the frame, quite low at this point. At three-quarters of its length, it is joined by the two other sides of the entourage, which leave the doubling post and form a right angle. Before mounting, bent legs are screwed at each post, to consolidate the seal.
The plaster tiles are of the honeycomb type 66 x 50 x 7 cm. Bouvetés, they are assembled using a specific glue ("PF3" of Lafarge) available in 25 kg bag. The preparation is carried out in a trough following the advice of the manufacturer. Poured into the water, the powder is distributed on the surface until saturation. The kneading is done by trowel until a creamy paste without lumps. She is then left to rest half an hour, before being rebated when using it. The open time is about two and a half hours.
At the top edge location, a line is stretched between the post and the arbatrier to serve as an alignment mark. The laying of the first tile must be carried out carefully because it determines the continuation of the operations. It is placed on a bed of glue, its horizontal groove oriented towards the ground and the vertical (also glued) towards the post. Until the penultimate, the following tiles are glued in the same way and nested to each other by controlling their horizontality and plumb. Excess glue is removed with a spatula.
The piece of framework requires cutting (with handsaw) the last tile. As soon as the row is finished, the joints undergo a partial coating by scraping with the inclined holding spatula. Before climbing the second row, it is best to let dry and start the bottom edge. Here, the tiles are placed in alignment with two parallel lines (7 cm apart) previously drawn on the reinforcement planks.
The tiles forming the angle must be cut to size: they are glued and assembled edge against face, while controlling squaring well. A cut is also necessary to assemble the last element to the upper edge. Glued on both sides, this tile is inserted from above. Again, squaring is to be verified.
Laying the second row, both for the top edge and the two others, begins with a half block to offset the joints. But before mounting, the top rabbet of the tiles must be removed to provide a flat surface to the handrail, posed last.

Finishes

The handrail consists of 90 x 30 mm fir planks, assembled at 45° in the right angle. Finely sanded and rounded edges, they are drilled with countersunk holes of Ø 7 mm, every 60 cm, which are carried on the top of the plaster tiles.
Before attaching the handrail, the masonry surfaces are coated on each face. They are then sanded and well dusted for painting. Once dry, the handrail is fixed by anchoring and screwing. The heads of the screws are embedded in the thickness of the wood and the holes are masticated. A tint with water, passed to the cotton wick, precedes the application in two layers of a satin varnish.

Framing the opening

Framing the opening

The opening is framed on two sides by agglo plates, lined with glass wool, which cover the original floor.
Reservations were made to fix reinforcement boards.

Install the wood structure

Install the wood structure

The long oak post sits on the raised floor, in line with the arrival post of the ramp. Its base is fixed by means of a large square (drawn from a flat iron) and tie rods Ø 6 x 35 mm.

Drill and fix

Drill and fix

Stalled at the top in the molded entry, the set is drilled right through to 12 mm in diameter and secured with a carpenter bolt tightened by nut.

Fix the doubling post

Fix the doubling post

The pole doubling that of the ramp requires reliable support. It is easier to fix it first by two squares on its reinforcing board, then to insert it and screw it in the reservation.

Lay the wall in plasterboard

Lay the wall in plasterboard

After laying a tile at each end, a string is stretched between the long post and the frame. It will serve as an alignment mark for the first row of the top edge.

Prepare the glue

Prepare the glue

The glue is prepared by pouring the powder into a trough containing about one centimeter of water. It is kneaded with a trowel, crushing the lumps well, then left to rest for half an hour.

Adjust the plumb

Adjust the plumb

The floor and the contact face of the post are generously glued for the laying of the first tile. The element is adjusted plumb, pressing well in both directions to fill its grooves with glue.

Glue the vertical groove of the tiles

Glue the vertical groove of the tiles

The following tiles land on the floor in the same way, but you must also stick their vertical groove. The operation is carried out in several passes in order to obtain a V-shaped bead.

Snap grooves and tongues

Snap grooves and tongues

Until the penultimate tile, the blocks are put in place on their bed of glue by pushing them until refusal to fit deep grooves and tongues.

Smooth the joints

Smooth the joints

The joints are smoothed to measure. The last tile is easily cut with a special handsaw for materials. After gluing the floor and the frame, it is inserted from above.

Fit the lower edge of the guardrail

Fit the lower edge of the guardrail

While this first row is drying, we can attack the bottom edge. The assembly starts at the doubling pole, on the reinforcement boards previously put in place.

Ensure the soundness of the assembly

Ensure the soundness of the assembly

Arrived in the corner, the elements are assembled face against edge while checking the squareness. The tiles of the second row will be crisscrossed (harpage) to ensure the strength of the assembly.

Finish the return

Finish the return

A fall is cut to complete the return. Sticking handsomely at both ends, it is, again, inserted from above. The sliding of the tongue in the groove locks.

Screw sealing tabs

Screw sealing tabs

The second row starts each time with a half-tile. Before laying, two sealing tabs are screwed into the post positioning them so as to coincide with a cell.

Check the alignment of the tiles

Check the alignment of the tiles

The correct alignment of the tiles is checked all along knowing that before the final setting, a rectification is always possible.

Fix the handrail

Fix the handrail

The surfaces receive a smoothing coating on both sides, followed by a satin white paint. After complete drying, the railing is equipped with its handrail, fixed by pegging and screwing.


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