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Old 08-16-2008, 03:27 PM   #1
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


Hello, I am planning on installing 3/4 inch thick by 3 inch wide prefinished hardwood oak in my living room. The living room ends at a stairway. Right next to this there is about a 5 foot railing where the floor will meet the bottom of this railing. My quesiton is what to do here? Should I just leave a small gap-I know wood expands along its width but this would be its length or should I use some kind of transitional molding (the only reason I am hesitatant to do this is that I am also not quite sure what to do where it meet the top of the stairs too. Sorry for the confusing explanation-I will try to attach a picture. Many thanks for any suggestions.
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Old 11-13-2008, 09:19 AM   #2
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


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Hello, I am planning on installing 3/4 inch thick by 3 inch wide prefinished hardwood oak in my living room. The living room ends at a stairway. Right next to this there is about a 5 foot railing where the floor will meet the bottom of this railing. My quesiton is what to do here? Should I just leave a small gap-I know wood expands along its width but this would be its length or should I use some kind of transitional molding (the only reason I am hesitatant to do this is that I am also not quite sure what to do where it meet the top of the stairs too. Sorry for the confusing explanation-I will try to attach a picture. Many thanks for any suggestions.
I don't have an answer for this, but I noticed that no one has responded. I have a similar situation and would like to re-issue this request.
Hope someone has a comment.

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Old 11-13-2008, 11:24 AM   #3
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


You could scribe up to the railing and use caulking, however if you want to better allow for the expansion, you could install what is called an "end cap, or baby threshold"
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Old 11-14-2008, 07:16 AM   #4
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


I assume, if I understood your post correctly, that your boards will be butt end to the stair railing? Like the landing area shown in the photo ?
There really should be no reason for a large expansion gap at the board ends, so I would butt the boards to the stair railing bottom and if you can't get your angled nail gun close enough, I would drill through each board as I laid them in place about 1 inch from the end of the board, run a bead of good quality wood glue on the bottom of the board, countersink a inch and a half or two inch #8 finish nail and use a matching putty to close the hole.
At the stairs, if it were me, I believe I would remove the carpet there and use a bull nose so that the entire landing would be hardwood floor. That would give a much 'cleaner' finished look to the landing area, IMO.
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Old 11-14-2008, 10:03 AM   #5
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


Actually, my situation is similar but not exactly as the one I re-issued. I have attached photos of my situation. In my case the hardwood will be parallel to the length of the railing. I will use a transition piece between tile and hardwood (kitchen to foyer).
When I did the tile I knew I wanted the tile to be aligned with wall(kitchen) and also to form an entrance floor stopping before the stairs (see photo). Now I feel I should remove the carpet and get a bull nosed stair tread and cut it to align with the railing end. The hardwood will run along the railing and then perpendicular to the new oak stair tread where it intersects the tread.

My concern/question is where do I actually start? I guess some prefitting and adjusting so that railing base and new tread form a nice 90, and then make sure the hardwood runs off that corner.

Thoughts and advise are welcome.

Thanks
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Last edited by orange; 11-14-2008 at 10:10 AM. Reason: Added photo.
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Old 11-14-2008, 11:19 AM   #6
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


I can only answer as to my particular likes and dislikes, so take that into consideration as I try to answer, OK ?
I have never been a 'fan' of carpet on stair treads. I prefer a solid footing when I use the stairs, and carpeting just doesn't work
for me. Plus the carept wears hard where it rolls around the treads.
In the case you present, putting in a pre-finished bull nose is relatively easy, once the carpet is cut away.
Here is what I would do:
Cut away the carpet from the nose of the top tread to expose the existing wood tread. I would then cut the existing 'nose' of the existing tread back to flush with the riser. Why? Because your new bull nose will add that back once in place.
Next, decide how far back you have to cut the carpet in order for the new bull nose to be fitted in.
I assume that you will use a transition piece to give a finished look for where the carpet meets the new bull nose?
Figure in how much additional 'gap' you need for that to be put into place.
Once you have that figure, you can cut your carpet accordingly.
To install the new pre-finished bull nose, I would both nail and glue it in place.
To nail it, here's what I would do:
I would use 2 inch #8 finish nails and I would drill pilot holes with a slightly smaller drill bit so the board doesn't split.
I would drill the pilot holes 2 inches from each end of the board and every 6 inches spaced out evenly over the remaining length. Once drilled, I would use a good quality wood glue and run a bead behind the nose where it meets the riser, and another bead over the length of the board below where I drilled my pilot holes.
Put the bull nose in place, and nail, countersinking the finish nails so that matching putty can be use to fill the slight holes.
Your transition piece will need to be one that allows for a 'step up' from wood to carpet. Tack the carpet every few inches where it meets the transition channel to hold it in place, and install your transition.
Your done!

Hope I wasn't too 'wordy' and that this will be of some help.
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Old 11-14-2008, 04:22 PM   #7
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


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I can only answer as to my particular likes and dislikes, so take that into consideration as I try to answer, OK ?
I have never been a 'fan' of carpet on stair treads. I prefer a solid footing when I use the stairs, and carpeting just doesn't work
for me. Plus the carept wears hard where it rolls around the treads.
In the case you present, putting in a pre-finished bull nose is relatively easy, once the carpet is cut away.
Here is what I would do:
Cut away the carpet from the nose of the top tread to expose the existing wood tread. I would then cut the existing 'nose' of the existing tread back to flush with the riser. Why? Because your new bull nose will add that back once in place.
Next, decide how far back you have to cut the carpet in order for the new bull nose to be fitted in.
I assume that you will use a transition piece to give a finished look for where the carpet meets the new bull nose?
Figure in how much additional 'gap' you need for that to be put into place.
Once you have that figure, you can cut your carpet accordingly.
To install the new pre-finished bull nose, I would both nail and glue it in place.
To nail it, here's what I would do:
I would use 2 inch #8 finish nails and I would drill pilot holes with a slightly smaller drill bit so the board doesn't split.
I would drill the pilot holes 2 inches from each end of the board and every 6 inches spaced out evenly over the remaining length. Once drilled, I would use a good quality wood glue and run a bead behind the nose where it meets the riser, and another bead over the length of the board below where I drilled my pilot holes.
Put the bull nose in place, and nail, countersinking the finish nails so that matching putty can be use to fill the slight holes.
Your transition piece will need to be one that allows for a 'step up' from wood to carpet. Tack the carpet every few inches where it meets the transition channel to hold it in place, and install your transition.
Your done!

Hope I wasn't too 'wordy' and that this will be of some help.
Thanks for the reply and info. I guess I wasn't clear in my previous posts but I plan on replacing all the carpet on the floors with 3/4x3 1/4 in prefinished oak hardwood. The stairs will be recarpeted. My concern is making sure that the hardwood meets up with the railing and the new tread. Where do I start to ensure this will happen?
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Old 11-14-2008, 09:17 PM   #8
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


If that's the case, I would remove the stair railing, put down my floor and put the railing back in place on top of the floor.
Providing you can remove it without damaging it.
If you can't remove it, I would start with installing the bull nose board and work from there. If you have to rip cut a floor board once you get to the back wall, it will be less noticeable there than at the bull nose. I would cut the bull nose board as you show it, and use a table saw to 'notch' it so that it can receive a floor board for a tight, snug fit.

Last edited by Engus; 11-17-2008 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 11-17-2008, 09:07 AM   #9
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


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If that's the case, I would remove the stair railing, put down my floor and put the railing back in place on top of the floor.
Providing you can remove it without damaging it.
If you can't remove it, I would start with installing the bull nose board and work from there. If you have to cut a floor board once you get to the back wall, it will be less noticeable there than at the bull nose. I would cut the bull nose board as you show it, and use a table saw to 'notch' it so that it can receive a floor board for a tight, snug fit.
Again, thanks for the info. I've never done hardwood flooring before and haven't done much with stairs and railings. How do you remove the railing without damaging anything?

Last edited by orange; 11-17-2008 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 11-17-2008, 10:16 AM   #10
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


Without knowing how it has been anchored to both floor and wall, It's kind of hard to answer that.
Inspect the railing. Do you see any wooden plugs over holes where it was anchored to studs behind the drywall?
Check the portion on the floor for the same.
Was it simply nailed in place and then putty used to fill the nail head holes ?
Removal of the railing isn't absolutely necessary, but if it can be removed relatively easily without damage to the wall, then that is how I would proceed.
If, after inspection, it appears to not be possible without damage to either wall or railing, then I would leave it in place and end butt my flooring to it. You're only talking about butting your floor boards on one end as the bull nose will come out to that exposed end of your railing.
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Old 11-17-2008, 10:24 AM   #11
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


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Without knowing how it has been anchored to both floor and wall, It's kind of hard to answer that.
Inspect the railing. Do you see any wooden plugs over holes where it was anchored to studs behind the drywall?
Check the portion on the floor for the same.
Was it simply nailed in place and then putty used to fill the nail head holes ?
Removal of the railing isn't absolutely necessary, but if it can be removed relatively easily without damage to the wall, then that is how I would proceed.
If, after inspection, it appears to not be possible without damage to either wall or railing, then I would leave it in place and end butt my flooring to it. You're only talking about butting your floor boards on one end as the bull nose will come out to that exposed end of your railing.
I've looked and can only see a plug a little bigger than the size of a dime on the post - about an inch up from the floor - near where my proposed new tread would go. I don't see any screw/nail holes filled with putty or wood on the base of the railing.
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Old 11-17-2008, 11:25 AM   #12
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


Well, I can't imagine that only glueing the stair rail to both floor and wall would meet code, especially at the top of a stairs, but whatever.
If there are no young'uns in the home to worry about, perhaps it's best to leave it alone if you feel uncertain about removing it.
Once your carpet is up, you will be able to lay a board or two butt end to the railing to see how it will finish out.
If it looks acceptable to you, then install your flooring against it.
I'd also put down a rosin paper below your hardwood boards. Red Rosin paper is cheap, and will help to prevent possible 'squeeks' of wood rubbing against wood subfloor.
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Old 11-17-2008, 03:18 PM   #13
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


Thanks for the info.
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Old 11-18-2008, 09:22 AM   #14
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


Rosin paper is a joke! it is to thin to stop any squeaks it merrilly to control dust.

Use 15 mil tarpaper. Keep your expansion proper as it applies.Acclimate your hardwood for at least 72 hours longer is better!Good Hardwood will not reach a true acclimation for several weeks in the best of enviroments.
It will however absorb humidity like a sponge.
One thing that can be done is undercut the boards of the banister side at a 45 then allow 1/8 expansion, fill this with color match filler.
"If" the floor expands beyond specs it will slimply ride up slightly over the edge of the banister instead of destabilzing it.
Allow 1/2 expansion on the opposite wall.

I hope this helps
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Old 11-18-2008, 09:30 AM   #15
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Prefinished hardwood expansion gaps at end?


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Originally Posted by 26yrsinflooring View Post
Rosin paper is a joke! it is to thin to stop any squeaks it merrilly to control dust.

Use 15 mil tarpaper. Keep your expansion proper as it applies.Acclimate your hardwood for at least 72 hours longer is better!Good Hardwood will not reach a true acclimation for several weeks in the best of enviroments.
It will however absorb humidity like a sponge.
One thing that can be done is undercut the boards of the banister side at a 45 then allow 1/8 expansion, fill this with color match filler.
"If" the floor expands beyond specs it will slimply ride up slightly over the edge of the banister instead of destabilzing it.
Allow 1/2 expansion on the opposite wall.

I hope this helps
Thanks 26 for your comments. This is my first hardwood floor project. I did do porcelain tile (about 350 sq ft) in the spring. It worked great. The hardwood project involves the rest of the main floor - 3 rooms and the foyer. (the area with the steps and railing). I want to avoid transitions between rooms, so some measurements will be critical in order to avoid some long cuts on boards. But I guess every job is a custom job so I shouldn't look for too many easy steps. Key is to not do something rally foolish. Do you have any words of wisdom for starting/laying out this 3-4 room project with doorways, stairs and meeting up with porcelain tile?

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