A DIY: The Stair Project. Part Four, The Landing.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

close up of pine wood floor tiles
Whooo it's been an embarrassing stitch of time here, getting back onto the DIY Stair Project.  I've been a tad busy.  But today, we're one step (ahhhhh haaa ha, pun) closer to done with the landing.

Yes, the landing.  Finally.  Omg.  Finally.

This was a design and installation quandary which always takes me plenty of brain effort.  Mostly in the installation head space arena as I had to sort of reverse engineer how to get it in there.  Math.

Well, ok, in fairness, the design took some time to figure too.

What I did know, to begin with, was I was using the same 1870's pine rafters as the stair treads.  But how?  Ah yes, therein lay the dilemma.

landing before with Finn
My Trusty Furry Assistant doing his evaluation and calculations as well on this landing before.
See, stairs have a best-practices formula to them.  Typically a rise (the vertical) plus the run (the horizontal tread) must add up to a total of about seventeen to seventeen and a half inches.  This is typically what code requires.

Anything that varies from that generally will be a safety and/or tripping hazard as this formula is now ingrained into our souls, our natural stair cadence expectations.

Our stair?  Yeah.  No.  Though now, each tread of our new stair is the same, each riser is still a bit different, especially once we hit the landing.

If you remember, which I'd rather not, our stair was originally built of construction grade two by twelve slathered in nasty carpet.  Those I removed but left and jazzed up the one by six-ish risers.

Once we hit the landing, the step onto it, the rise there is short.  And the first step to the right on the last three steps onto the second floor is incorrect.  Someone was worse at math than me.

So naturally then, anything I applied to the landing was going to alter the unbalanced balance.


So, but, somehow it all worked out and doesn’t feel too funny, probably because we’re long used to the awkwardness of this spot. 

What did I use?

First, I measured the landing.  Well, actually I had originally laid down a piece of three quarter plywood that I had stained, thinking I’d stain the existing treads.  While pretty, it matches the existing floor, the direction this was all going wasn't doing it for me.

stained plywood landing
So, I yanked up the plywood and used it as a template for my OSB to trim up. 

Next was cutting my tiles.  Yes, this was a messy task, similar in mess scope to the wood block headboard, but smartly I did this outdoors this time. 

I cut and cut and cut tiles, filling up the OSB as I went so I knew how much I had, how far to go. 

Ah, with cutting finally complete, next was the hard part:  the design.  Which way, how, what can…I rearranged these bits of wood oh, heh, oh so many, too many times. 

That’s the thing, just so many options for layout, I didn’t want to miss a really cool idea.  Yeah, FOMO.

Eventually I grew weary of myself and set the pieces in alternating groups of three, dragged Mike downstairs, said, “babe. Ugh. What do you think?”  He said, good, do that.  So that’s what I did. 
wood tile layout ideas
Here's merely three of the ideas I ran through....
Using construction adhesive, all the pieces got stuck down.  Not too snug, not too loose to accommodate for expansion and contraction. 

gluing pine wood tiles to OSB with construction adhesive
Anywhoo.  Let the glue set up.  For months.  *cough*

A bit ago, I did try squirting caulk into bigger gaps but that was definitely a mistake that I scraped out later.  The concept was there:  fill gaps with something flexible.  The result was a big fat nope. 

caulking pine wood tile gaps
Right, ok, so a tremendous amount of time passed and only recently did I finally pick this back up.  We had an atypically warm winter day so I dragged this puppy outside and sanded the daylights out of it. 

sanding pine wood tiles
Before sanding.

after sanding pine wood tiles
After sanding.
No, to answer your question, I did not get the surface perfectly flat, plane, and level, one of Mike’s requirements for this project, so mmm, yeah, sorry babe, but it is mostly close. 

Right, sanded the daylights out of it with multiple grits of sandpaper, my palm sander,* and ear protection.*  Sorry, neighbors.

Oopfhh, hauled that thing back in and downstairs, managing to not ding the swanky kitchen doorway thank goodness, and it was seal coat time. 

Recently I was given these Crocodile Paint Wipes* and hot damn, I am truly super impressed with what they can do.  For this project, I used them to wipe down and clean off the wood then coated everything in wood hardener like the treads.

wood hardener on pine wood tiles
Right, so I decided on the roller cover type that looks like rag fibers, what are they called.... woven.*  Foam will leave bubbles and, nope, I was done sanding.  Too, a regular cover has a tendency to leave bubbles as well and I knew the raggy ones wouldn’t. 

sealing pine wood tiles with water based polyurethane
Aaanndddd I was right.  Whew.  No sanding between!  So I rolled on oh I dunno, six coats of matte water-based polyurethane, stopping when the surface looked baby-butt smooth.  One coat rolled one direction, the next the other direction. 

Now.  This next part happens so rarely, sooo rarely, that I am solidly conditioned for things to go awry because that’s how my life goes

But magically, unbelievably, shockingly, this whole giant panel piece dropped right in, smooth as silk, no argument, and fit like a glove.  No wall scrape, no squishing, shoving, nothin'.  

Just skooched, shimmied, drop, and bingo. 

pine wood tiles landing installed
I was so stunned, that I literally stood there unsure what to do with myself for a good few minutes.  Then I did a butt wiggle dance, careful not to toss myself down the stair. 

Yes, no, no fasteners (goodness I’m so Midwestern); I opted to float it.  It doesn’t move at all so no fastening needed. 

Righty-o, I was now ragingly pumped to wrap this up after so damn long so I raced downstairs to cut the nosing piece to hide the rough stair-face edge. 

installing nosing piece
Cut an inch and a half wide piece of the pine, ran (ok, maybe didn't quite run as by now I’d been up and down both flights oh so many times) up with my brad nailer,* 2" brads, and slapped that on.   And again, my math worked, holy sh*tballs, stunned again.


nails shot through
And doh.  I about nailed my head.  After all this time and work and oh my....

Handled those nail bits with a pair of snips,* found the chip that popped out, glued that back in, and set about sealing the landing-face-side of the nose trim.

And voilá, holy cats and dogs people, we finally have a stair landing in the enduring saga of the DIY stair project!  Omg.  Halle-frickin'-loo-yah.

finished pine wood tile stair landing
Mike said, two days in a row actually, "looks good, babe," so that's an immense win right there.  Whew!
completed pine wood tiles stair landing diy
More to come.  Of course.  Is anything ever done?!

Gotta finish the base trim, paint, final touch-ups, a wee rug, maybe raise the curtain rod, and this DIY stair project will be a wrap.  


In the meantime, I will revel in this beaut.

*The construction adhesive, Crocodile Paint Wipes, sanders, and snips are Home Depot affiliate links.  The wood hardener, sandpaper, and ear protection are Amazon affiliate links.  The water based polyurethane, woven roller covers, and Bostitch tools are Lowes affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.


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