Back Stair Flooring. At last!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Heeeeeyy!  Yay!  Progress!

Suddenly, in a flash, outta nowhere, I finally had an idea for the back stair.  The steps anyway.  The rest of the embarrassing disaster area, yeah, grrr not so much yet.

It's one of those areas that will always be messy, dirty, muddy, filled with grass clippings or leaves n' junk and crud and just a giant disaster.  Which is hugely frustrating to me.  Goal for the back stair:  minimize the mess.

Finn at the top of the stairs before
Before.  And my shadow.  What's he looking at?  Good question, I dunno.
Several occasions of standing at the top, light on, long stares = nothing.

view down the stairs before
I mean.  I am so embarrassed.  It's filthy.  And awful.  Just awful.  And I suffer the view multiple times daily.
I happened to casually stroll by on my way to the pantry, glance to my right and bam!, peel and stick wood look vinyl plank tiles* popped into my beady head.  Hey!  Relief ensued.

My shopping adventure began at the Menards website where I thought I had found two good options.  Key:  thought.  When I got to the store though, turns out one was that click snap connect floating whatever that won't work and the other looked too cheap and pathetic, I couldn't.

pulling up the old carpet stair runner
There's one of the two staple pullers* I bought.  While it does seem to help, I can't say it's as revolutionary as they purport. Again, ignore the major mess.  Please.
Sooooo I zipped over to Home Depot.  As I was perusing their peel and stick aisle, a sales person walked by and said he'd give me a discount if I bought right then and there.  Huh?!  For sure if I bought an open box.  Carried away in the moment, I grabbed a cart.

exposed builder grade 2x12 stair treads
All cleared.  And my shadow again.  He's so helpful, right?
Only to get home and be all disappointed.  Click snap whatever mixed into the peel and stick section.  Sneaky.  Ugh!  Back to Home Depot to return but not before...

I end up on Lowes' website.  And find these.*  Which look ya know quite decent on the website.  I purchase them online for in-store pick up using Rakuten* which gives me cash back.

Get to the store, and yeah, pretty satisfactory.  Too close yet slightly different from our existing hardwood floor which is a minus in my mind as it might appear I was impossibly trying to purposefully match but having spent the better portion of my day on this, I was done.  Signed, left, came home.

The fact that I spent a mere forty five bucks on way more than I needed perked me up a tad though.

As I've never installed a floor such as this, it seemed wise to inform myself.  Read the box and it says instructions are enclosed.  Well.  Hm.  I didn't purchase a full complete box, and guess what, there were no instructions to be found.

photo of the box for instructions
The back of the box.  "Enclosed instructions."  Mmmm hm.  Why not just print them on the box?  Aaaahhhh, smart, that's why.
A quick search online for the company and instructions.  Nope.  Nothin'.  Odd, right?

I email customer service and get an email back several days later, "call the manufacturer or we can have a store call you."  I reply saying, please just send the directions or tell me where I can find them.  Alas, no response.  What service.

Call the Lowe's 800 number and they don't have any information regarding instructions.  Get transferred to corporate, no nothin'.  Get transferred to a nearby store, no nothin' but a flooring guy gives me some tips:  use adhesive primer and cut with a utility knife.  That's all he said.

Sorry Lowe's, I just, I can't with you.

After checking out instruction tips online here (which is a good tip but I'll explain later why it is also not a good tip) and generally elsewhere, I'm off to the races.

I start by clipping an inch off of the ends as our stair is approximately 35"-ish wide.  Now, here's where that above tip was generally handy.  Using a sharp utility knife, I scored the piece twice, bent it back, and snap!, it popped right apart.

cutting the vinyl flooring
To cut the first one I used a non-slip straight edge,* cork on the back to be precise.
Whew.  I was highly concerned that cutting this stuff was going to be traumatic and incredibly difficult.

Though I had measured each individual tread, before I went a-trimmin' those up thankfully I remembered an old Norm Abrams tip, or maybe it was a Tom Silva tip, well either way....

measuring and figuring out where to cut vinyl plank tile
Ah see, I almost drove myself absolutely bonkers.  (Yes Jason, your label is still on my ruler, nice work.)
Lay the piece to trim against your end point (in this case the riser), then lay a full piece on top of it aligned to the opposite edge and there's your exact cut line.

measuring and finding line to cut for stair treads
Because the risers were getting the vinyl too, I propped a plank up, butt the piece to trim up to that, laid the full piece on top, aligned to the front edge.
And here's where that first tip, and kinda the second tip if incorporating the first, became not handy and why I'm generally not cool with these types of cutting tips.  Ideally when cutting using a straight edge, the waste side is out, not the good side.  In other words, if you're a righty, waste is on the right therefore the good side is protected.

cutting the wood look vinyl plank tile
Straight edge had been on the left (and cork down too yes), protecting the good side.
These tips have you covering the waste side; your good side is exposed.  It is way too easy to slip, veer, slide, and slice up the good side this way as I did numerous times.

But in the case of the This Old House tip, you'll have to trace a line then use a non-slip straight edge with the waste side out.  Or the remnants of another cut piece to stick on top.  Which is all just tough in general anyway on a long slippery surface with "wood" grooves.

Or be brave, go slow, be methodical and be careful as I did; I didn't want to mark up the vinyl lest the line not remove.  As I mentioned though, I did screw up several times.

That's a slew a' cutting tips.  Heh.  But hey, cutting is inherent to this task.


Once everything was cut, I splashed on some adhesive primer.  So glad I bought the large jug!  Useful now three times!  Wallpaper, wallpaper, and flooring.  Nice.

bottle of adhesive primer used on stairs
Yay, adhesive primer.
To be super honest, I didn't wash the stairs first.  Granted yes of course, I did a thorough thorough vacuuming.

Call me a weenie or bat-sh*t loopy or judge all you want, but..........see ok.  The day we lost Hailey, it took what felt like eons for me to go back inside the house.  When I finally did, there were muddy paw prints on the steps.  My heart fell out of my chest.  Needless to say, I never washed them off.

And ok, just in case they hadn't worn away after this amount of time I know sure, I was not going to clean the stairs.  I'd rather cover over them.  So it is.  Ok?  Ok.

(A friend posted this on Facebook the other day which I did start to read until the eye hoses exploded instantaneously.  Which is probably why I had an upsetting dream about her that night.)

Moving on.

Since it's cooler in the back stair plus the bare wood and no air movement, the adhesive primer stuff was taking to dry.

fan propped at the top of the stairs to encourage drying
Hence fan after two hours of waiting.  Patience is a virtue.  Patience is a virtue.  Not today it ain't.
Once it did?  Yay, time to start stickin'!  Let's wrap this puppy up!  Yay!

That's when I discovered I cut all the treads wrong.  Ahhhh boy.  Yay.

sticking the tiles onto the wood treads
Yeah, you can't see what I'm about to refer to.  But looking surprisingly nice, eh?
Originally I cut so that the wee 1.5" wide tread nosing masking piece hid the edge of the tread piece.  Oops.  No.  That left an exposed edge facing up that one sees when looking down, an ugly fake-y vinyl line.  Made for a sloppy look.

SooooooOOo, heh, yep, I recut all the treads.  This is why we purchase extra.

As I'm nearing the end of the recutting and I slide out one last plank, by the way, guess what slithers out....Yep, the instructions.  Insert major eye roll here.  No, I don't bother to look because at this point?, what's the point.

Cut, stick, cut stick, cut stick stick stick stick stick.  Not sticking very well.  At all.

smoothing the tiles down with my foot and a rag
So not only could I a.) not use a 100 lb. roller on the steps, I could b.) not get a 100 lb. roller on the steps.  Feet and a clean rag had to do.
But, by now, it's after five in the afternoon.  I hope the repeated future walking up and down traffic will do the force-sticking trick so I popped downstairs for the compressor* and stapler,* tacked the carpet runner back on.

attaching a new carpet stair runner to finished tiles
Diggin' my new stapler, I am!
Less than a day later, nosing edge masking pieces are peeling.  I hear that sticky-ripping noise when I traverse the steps, you know the one, the one where it peels back up after you've removed your foot.  Riiiiiipp.  Sigh.

finished wood look vinyl plank tile on builder grade lumber stairs
Yeah.  Looks surprisingly better than halfway decent, yeah?
Heh.  Just once.  Just once it'd be great if a project went as planned.  Ya know?  Heh.

finished stairs with new runner
And here with the runner back on.  Yeah.  Works for me!
I ended up buying some vinyl tile adhesive* and will lick and stick those loose buggers down.  Which I wanted to avoid in the very first place.  Since this is not our forever home, my goal has been to make sure anything I do is easily un-doable.   Adhesive, alas, is not.

view of stairs from top
There, looking down.  Not a great shot, hm.
view of stairs with runner from top
Please ignore the walls and the bottom of the stair.  And the door.  And everything except the new flooring.
Ah well, adhesive is better than perpetual sticky-rip noises and incessantly peeling edges.  And easy-clean vinyl is better looking and nicer than painted steps.

So make that three.  Three floors I've replaced in this house to date.  Here, the pantry, and the first floor bathroom.

Spring has gone very much into retreat making the back stair chilly again meaning it's likely too cool back there to use the adhesive.

Oh plus too though, I rediscovered an idea to cover over the unattractive, slippery, so-not-level-at-all tile at the base without ripping out the tile, but the floor itself is too cold as well.

Sooooo, now we wait for the weather to warm be continued!

Oh, before I head out, this goes to what I was talking about last time too:  An Off Leash Dog Ruined My Life.  Reasons not use a leash:  zero.  Leash 'em up, people!  (Thanks to my mom for sharing that with me.)

Oh and one last thing!  Don't forget voting is still going on for Best Remodeling Blog -- please come vote for Flipping the Flip!  No registering at all, just a single one time vote.  Thank you!  (Edit:  voting has since closed, thanks for your vote!)

Care for the update to this?  Click here!

*The vinyl tiles, staple pulls, non-slip straight edges, Bostitch compressor, Bostitch stapler, and vinyl tile adhesive are Amazon affiliate links.  The vinyl tiles themselves are a Lowes affiliate link.  The Rakuten link gives us both a nice bonus when you sign up and buy online.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.


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  2. They look beautiful!! I stumbled upon your blog because I want to do exactly this on my back enterance stairs. But my mind can't fathom getting the peel and stick planks to look good on the nosing of the stairs. How did you make it look so seemless!

    1. Oh, thank you so much! Thanks for dropping by the blog too! It's all about measuring precisely then cutting as precise as you can. Just take your time, use sharp cutting tools, don't rush, and be sure to buy some extra planks in case of goofs. Good luck though I'm sure you'll get it just right!

  3. the Nosing on my stairs is rounded. How did you get the nosing pieces to stick on the rounded ends?

    1. Our nosing is the edge of the 2x construction grade lumber which does have a slight rounded corner. I couldn't stick it to the rounded corner but I cut the pieces to line up with each other. If the nosings you have are fully rounded, sadly this method wouldn't work. I'd stick with the rounded.


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