Mike & Sandie's Foyer: Stair Repair

Renovation Diary

The staircase after ripping out the bottom two steps, which created a scary gap.
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Name: Mike and Sandie
Type of Project: Foyer renovation
Location: Saskatoon; Saskatchewan, Canada
Type of building: 2 1/2 story single-family home, built in 1919

The Renovation Diaries are a collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

Huzzah, stairs! Stairs with no more creaks! At the end of week 3 of the renovation, we have now completely supported the staircase (and through to the 2nd floor landing), as well as re-making the bottom 2 steps. Whew! That was a behemoth of a task.

Old subfloor OUT!
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First off: old scary subfloor out, new sturdy floor in! We installed new plywood cuts all around the room and under the bottom two stairs (the stairs were removed to accommodate repairs). Un-glamorous work all this “behind the walls/floor” bones-stuff, but good to know it can last another 100 years.

New subfloor IN!
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Also unseen is the electrical work. We’ve moved the position of the overhead light and all the switches to be turbo-ergonomic to the space. The overhead light switch is now located beside the front door ( it was previously across from the staircase). A dimmer switch and the second floor landing and basement staircase switches are at the base of the stairs. The overhead light is now located across from the center of the stairwell in front of the closet, no longer compromising maximum headroom from the front door through to the other areas. And all the remaining knob & tube wiring has been removed!

The under stair support. No more creaking!
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As described in last week's update: support was from the underside of the staircase (in the basement and through the foyer ceiling). We strategically placed some lumber-cuts with some sexy looking engineering so as to provide the existing staircase with more structural oomph.

The shiny new stairs.
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Close-up of the new stairs.
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The bottom 2 steps look amazing, schwiiiing! They should... they required some serious skills paying attention to details. Not only do they look pretty, but are rock solid. Boom. The banister will need some attention too...

After the wood fill on the stairs.
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Rather than gutting the staircase, we’re rehabilitating it with about 60 liters of wood-filler. Diggin’ the “cheetah” pattern it makes... not! We’ll have to see where this takes us on being able to stain the treads — the result has been unexpected. Also to keep with the age and character of the house, we’ve left some of the “hand scraped” and worn look to the contours of the surface while making the traffic areas smooth as baby's bottom. There is this gorgeous wear to the treads where the most heavily used area (center edges of the treads) is worn down, creating a beautiful sloping indentation... it’s things like this that reinforce the warm feelings associated with keeping this staircase and all its soul with as much integrity as possible, instead of just plunking in a new one.

We're still a little behind schedule (with repairs landing on the extreme end of the anticipated time frame creating the drag), but still at ‘er with smiles on.

Estimated time for project: 10 weeks
Time remaining: 7 weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us tomorrow for installment #6 of Mike and Sandie's Foyer Renovation.

(Images and diary text: Mike and Sandie)

(Image credits: Mike and Sandie; number)

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