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.
<p>Great post. I found other useful tips in &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.refinishingpro.com/hardwood-floor-refinishing-nyc/&quot;&gt;REfinishing Pro&lt;/a&gt;</p><p>I'm planing on doing my stairs since we just painted the House. Again, nice post and keep it up!</p>
How does one refinish the stair handrails and the spikes below?
I am so grateful for this information.Our home here in S.W. Pennsylvania as built in 1928. The wife and I pulledup the carpet from the stairs just this past weekend. We moved into this home in Jan. 2008. It had been refurbished completely and given beautiful hardwood flooring throughout EXCEPT the old stairs. Its such a shame that it wasnt done as well. Our stairs look very much like your stairs--amazing likeness! Your instructions are awesome. I am following them to a 'T'. However,ours have nail holes and small chunks that need filled with something. What do I do aout that as I dont know of any filler that will take stain! I need help with that please.Again,thanks ad God Bless!
Awesome. My wife feels the same way about the charm in the nicks and holes.We will follow your lead and I'll get pictures going too as we go. We picked up a new sander last night at HD.We have bitten into too much as we have the livingroom to finish painting (now just the trim-round the door and windows) ,and other tasks need caught up. I'll be cutting some grass today. It's so nice today here in Houston,PA,andI love cutting grass! So...on we go. Thank you very much for your kind response!!
I've heard that a lot of fillers really don't take stain well. But if you're refinishing an old staircase, those nail holes are part of the charm. And if you can't fix it, flaunt it, right? <br>I'd suggest that, if you have little nail holes, like carpet-tack holes, just let the stain get them while you're staining, and let the polyurethane fill them in when you paint. <br> <br>If they're big nail holes, I'd get a wood filler that's two or three shades darker than the stain you're going to use, in the same color-family, push it in tight, let it dry, and sand it well so it's just a little dark circle; then stain and poly over it. <br> <br>The nail holes might just be what makes your 1928 home look like it has almost 100 years of memories walking up and down those stairs!
I have sanded floors professionally in the past. If you end up doing this again, or for those who read this and want to tackle this themselves - forget the chisel, get a good ol' Red Devil scraper. 1 1/2 inch blade (just the blade and make your own handle if you have to, that what we did and do). You will get much better results.<br>60, 80, 100 ARE finishing grits when it comes to floor sanding. Forget what the salespeople try to sell you.
We just bought an older house (early 1900's) and I want to do the very same thing to the stairs and the whole house. Thank-you for the excellent instructions!! This will make my job much easier. Thanks again!!
Nice job...Im impressed, most women I know would never dream of tackling a job like this with no xp and no backup help, well my sis-inlaw would but would then get me and my bothers to finish and correct ;) Im planing on doing my mother's stairs since we just painted the hallway. Again, nice job and keep it up!
great project! looks great!
As a postscript: <br>The staircase no longer squeaks like it did. Nearly all of the steps squeaked quite loudly before. Now there is only one squeak on one part of the landing, and none on the stairs at all! <br>I do not have an explanation for this, but it is an interesting bonus!
Nice job, you should be quite happy with the results. I agree with your choice of the MiniWax poly, it does a nice job. Frankly you have a lot of courage and clearly lots of tenacity tackling those stairs. Your method of packing the old strip flooring with cotton strings is quite innovative. I hope it works well for you. Congratulations for a job well done and a nice clear instructable.
Thank you very much!

About This Instructable


112 favorites


More by KittyJ: repairing a rust hole in a car Refinishing an Hardwood Staircase
Add instructable to: