Step 5: The Landing

The landing was one of the most challenging parts of this project. And this brings in the fact that I'm an artistic person, and not a contractor. 

The floor was old hardwood. There were gaps in between the boards. Some were completely joined together, some had gaps of 3 to 4 mm. Most had gaps of 1to2 mm, and they were all uneven. I saw a website suggesting the use of rope to fill in a space or two in wide-plank hardwood floors, and I decided to make the plan my own.

First, I used a screwdriver and a vacuum to scrape years of crud out of the spaces.

Second, I stained the floor

Third, I cut lengths of cotton twine. For 15 row spaces, I cut eleven 8 ft long pieces, and four 12 ft long pieces. I dipped them into the stain I would use on the wood, and hung them outside on the fence to dry overnight. We were concerned they might get stiff, but they were not stiffened at all in the morning.

Then, I started using the string to fill the gaps. After experimenting, I had the following technique:
    1. In the widest/deepest gaps, I cut a length of twine the length of the deepest part, and laid it in the gap, and pressed it down using the back of a razor blade (I had a blade holder you see in the photo - you could use a screwdriver.) Then I started a length of twine near the wall, with a bit of an overhang (~1cm) tucked into the gap. Then I ran the twine down the gap, pushing it gently into the gap with the blade as I went along. In spaces where the string fell too deeply into the gap, I pulled it out, and pressed another short piece into the gap, then brought the long piece back over it. I was careful not to let the string come up higher than the floorboards.
    2. It wasn't until I was almost to the back wall that I encountered a problem. A couple of boards were very close together, too close for the string, and the adjacent gaps were extra-wide. I had noticed when I was scraping out between the boards that they could wiggle back and forth a little. I used a probe, and very gently tapped at the crack until the board moved. It looked so much more even, and so much better, that I decided to use my string method to fix the floor. I used the probe to open the boards, then pressed a piece of twine deep into the crack, holding the boards apart. Then I ran the top piece of twine to finish it. The evened gaps were such an improvement that I went back over the floor and repaired a few other sections as well.

In the pictures here, you see the big, uneven gaps in the old floor. Then you see the stained floor with the dyed twine in place. Then you see the polyurethaned, finished floor. The color of the floor and the color of the twine are very similar after being polyed. There are still a couple of small gaps, but I think it looks great. It was a certain charm to it.

It turned out to be a great solution to a problem.