"I love my cats because I love my home, and little by little they become its visible soul." Jean Couteau

Sunday, August 10, 2014

trading carpet, part 2

And now, the conclusion...

I left off the last post with painting the landing with odor-sealing primer. While that was drying, Dad and I got started thinking about the stair treads. We gathered all the smallest pieces of flooring and measured how long they needed to be for each step. Since most of these small pieces would be cut from larger pieces, most of them would lose their tongue, which is supposed to fit into the groove in the back of the nose. Dad figured we could use the table saw to shave off part of the plank to create a tongue. I didn't get any pictures of this, so I'll just try to describe it. There should still be tongue sticking out on the side, so set the table saw height so the saw just comes to the bottom edge of that tongue. Measure how deep your tongue should be and set up a gate so you can get a nice, straight cut. Then just run the plank through at that depth, then slightly less and slightly less until you've shaved off all the way to the end. Now you have half a tongue. Then turn your plank upside down, reset the saw height as the two sides aren't necessarily equal, and do it again.

I worked on making tongues and Dad took the newly-tongued pieces and trimmed them to the correct length on the miter saw. When measuring the length, be sure not to include the tongue, or your piece will end up too short!

Once we had all the pieces cut, we laid them out on the step with the nose. Even with careful measuring and cutting, the pieces weren't all exactly the same length. This was OK since the step wasn't perfectly uniform depth all the way across. We did a lot of musical chairs slots to get the best fit of all pieces across the entire step. With all the pieces in, there was a gap at one side that was too narrow for a full plank-width to fit, so the last piece on each stair had to be custom cut to the necessary width.

Then it was time for gluing! The planks on the stair treads didn't get nailed in, just glued (with liquid nails, so in a sense, I guess they got nailed). After the planks were glue down, the stair noses got glued in. Then we taped the noses to the treads, both as a little extra security while they dried and to remind us not to walk on the stairs. It's important not to walk on the stairs for at least 24 hours while the glue sets. The glue can continue to harden and strengthen for up to a week, so, since we only had those couple of stairs, we stayed off of them for a whole week.

Now it was finally time for the feature presentation -- the landing! First, we cut and laid the underlayment. Underlayment helps keep the wood from creaking. It only came in a HUGE roll, but I figure I'll use it eventually when I get around to converting the rest of the stairs to hardwoods, which is definitely in the long-term plans.

Then we started planning the landing planks. We started by finding the longest pieces we had. We had two that were long enough to span the entire landing, so we put one of those near either side. Then we filled in with alternating sizes to give it the right sort of random offset pattern that wood floors have. The spacing of the planks on the landing didn't work out to match up perfectly with the planks in the powder room, leaving a narrow gap. More on that later. After we had our plan in place, we cut pieces as needed to get everything to fit just right and dry fit them one more time. Then we took most of the planks out, keeping them in order, and it was time to start nailing!

We started at the side next to the stairs, opposite the powder room, but we didn't start with the planks right up next to the stairs. There's a little jutting in part, and we thought it would be better to have the long plank fit next to there perfectly, instead of cutting a notch in it, which we would have to do if we started right up against the step. Also, the step wasn't perfectly square and level, so we'd have to do some fiddling with the pieces there for them to fit properly and line up with the truly straight planks of the rest of the landing. We worked our way across toward the powder room, fitting the planks in, tapping them into a nice, snug fit with a rubber mallet, and nailing them with the floor nailer. Eventually, we got too close to the wall to fit the floor nailer in, so then we just surface-nailed with my 16-gauge finish nailer. Then we custom-cut the pieces to go up next to the stair and glued them in place.

As you can see in the photos above, there was a gap between the end of the landing wood and the start of the powder room wood. It was pretty narrow, less than an inch in most places, but also not uniform. Instead of trying to custom cut and fit and glue in plank pieces, we got a matching T transition piece at Home Depot. We just set it in the gap and surface nailed it in place. It sticks up a little bit, but it blends in well and is barely noticeable. 

Now that the floor was in, we could put the baseboard back on and add shoe moulding. Now that the baseboard was going on top of the floor, we had to cut off the height of the floor, about 3/4". We did that with the table saw, then nailed it all back in place with the 16 gauge finish nailer. The baseboards had gotten a bit scuffed up taking them out, so I gave them all a fresh coat of the trim paint the builders had left for us. 

I had taken off a couple of pieces of the existing shoe moulding for installation of the bottom riser, so I took that to Home Depot to find a match. I added the moulding all around the landing and also along the bottom step to have continuity with what was already there.

And here are the stairs and landing with everything finished and the blue tape removed. I love how it looks, and we haven't had anymore cat problems there, so I'm glad we did it. Thanks for all the help, Dad!!

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