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Staircase Overhaul

 

After a few falls down the stairs this year and stubbed toes on oddly placed return vents, our family had had enough of our old carpeted staircase.    I had been told in the past that it would not be wise to have hardwood floors as it could be unsafe.  I agree, zooming up and down our stairs, especially with a pie shaped landing with socks on is dangerous and can lead to tumbles but we're barefoot people.  Since the mention the people who told me that were trying to sell me carpet, I igored the warning.  Besides, I could always add a runner if we became concerned.  Off it was coming and the vented returns that appeared to add no apparent support to our HVAC system were getting the plug!  

During a recent HVAC inspection I was given to OK to plug the vents as long as I enlarge the entrance floor vent to compensate for any decrease in air capacity.  No problem, I knew I could make a return vent "pretty" and any potential increase in efficiency would be an added bonus.  After that news I started scanning Pinterest pictures for before and afters and came across a company selling stair refacing material (retrofit stair treads).  The thickness of the stair treads were 3/4 inch instead of 1" and meant to be applied directly to the roughed in staircase which had not yet sported any fancy nosing or risers as you will see in my in progress photos.  This thickness allowed the tread to sit exactly flush with the casing on the left.  There were options for an enclosed staircase (where the edges of the stairs are not exposed) and came in a choice of woods in an unfinished option.  I immediately started to calculate whether this was an affordable option and we it was an enthusiastic "go"!  I couldn't wait to peel and throw that tattered 20 year old carpet into the trash!

I counted and calculated and placed the order from www.stair-treads.com.  The unfinished oak tread I chose were out of stock, but were in production.  I received them four weeks later and upon arrival I was surprised to find them less "finished" than unfinished.  They were on the rough side, some had channeling holds, pits and others had plane lines.  I was a little heartbroken.  These had traveled cross country, so I understand there is a risk they get scuffed up, but they were wrapped on a pallet without protection.  I had been given more than I ordered, perhaps to make up for some of the less than perfect.  I figured they were wood and can be sanded and smoothed, filled where needed and continued with my project.    Are there other companies that offer a higher quality product?  I assume so, but I can't say for sure since this is the only time I used it.  I can't say I would order from this company again based on my experience.  In the future, I would order three, from a different company and see how they looked. 

As my contractor peeled off the old grunge, I got busy sanding, and sanding and sanding. After that I had a custom stain mixed to match my current floors which are not wood, they are a higher quality textured tongue and grove laminate.  Our local Sherwin Williams store (thanks John and Melinda!) mixed the perfect stain to match; you honestly cannot tell them apart.  In three days I had 13 treads sanded to feel like butter, filled, stained and just two coats of low sheen polyurethane.  

After about 1000 meticulous cuts, Bill had it all installed.  He did a beautiful job, we couldn't be happier to change our house rule from "no shoes" to "no socks".  We were always barefoot people anyway.  I hope you are inspired to rip off your ugly carpet and if you need some help, contact me here.

Thanks to Bill of Nagelhout Construction (616) 799-3437.  If you would like a bid on your next project and are in Central Oregon, you can contact Bill via email here.

XO,

Kari

Why on earth were return  vents put in the staircase?    Who knows, but they were coming out.  No more stubbed toes on those stupid things.
Why on earth were return vents put in the staircase? Who knows, but they were coming out. No more stubbed toes on those stupid things.
Pictured here the floor register that was to be expanded, but prettified.
Pictured here the floor register that was to be expanded, but prettified.
One word for this before photo.  Ewe.
One word for this before photo. Ewe.
After the peel.  Say Hi to Bills foot.
After the peel. Say Hi to Bills'foot.
Delivered on the raw side.  This shot was taken on top of the pallet it was delivered on so if you are seeing a difference in wood, that is why.
Delivered on the raw side. This shot was taken on top of the pallet it was delivered on so if you are seeing a difference in wood, that is why.
This is how I paint risers at night.  The cat did step on one and left a trail of paws down the hall.  Uhg.
This is how I paint risers at night. The cat did step on one and left a trail of paws down the hall. Uhg.
Staining, staining and staining.
Staining, staining and staining.
Bill and I took a lot of time to study where the lines would start and stop.  He did a fantastic job installing.  We  ripped  (lingo for cut) the top portion of my floor base and used that as extra detail atop the skirt board, juuuust past it s curve so it would sit flush on the skirtboard.  I think it makes a huge difference.  It just runs right on into my floor base and looks like it had always been there.
Bill and I took a lot of time to study where the lines would start and stop. He did a fantastic job installing. We "ripped" (lingo for cut) the top portion of my floor base and used that as extra detail atop the skirt board, juuuust past it's curve so it would sit flush on the skirtboard. I think it makes a huge difference. It just runs right on into my floor base and looks like it had always been there.
This is called a pie-shaped landing.  I am not missing those vents one bit.
This is called a pie-shaped landing. I am not missing those vents one bit.
Here you get a peek at our solution to the corner transition on the right.
Here you get a peek at our solution to the corner transition on the right.
And the pretty and more functional return air vent.  I ordered a screen from a to-the-trade specialty store.  This pattern only had a 30% opening ratio for this pattern so it allowed enough air to flow, however we couldn t see right through under the stairs.  We then framed  it out and cut on insert right on the base.  Pretty nifty.
And the pretty and more functional return air vent. I ordered a screen from a to-the-trade specialty store. This pattern only had a 30% opening ratio for this pattern so it allowed enough air to flow, however we couldn't see right through under the stairs. We then framed it out and cut on insert right on the base. Pretty nifty.
The lovely finish!
The lovely finish!

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