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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

After a long new-dad delay and my own overdone and overbuilt subfloor prep (1.5" now, no squeaks!), which included sistering a joist, I'm nearly ready to lay the first piece of flooring- almost 2 years on! The flooring has been properly acclimated, to say the least. This room is my second hardwood flooring project- previously I did a transition-free single level house.

I have what I guess is described as a cutaway staircase (see photos and ignore the mess). I have stair nosing to place around the entire cutaway, at least as far as it will fit given the big awesome timber stringers. It should give it a really great look based on the little dry fitting I did. However, I know the room isn't square, and the cutaway is similar.

The added subfloor strength and thickness gives me options. The strength is a perk, I really just needed the height, but the flooring can now run either direction. The joists run parallel with the top stair and the window wall, and are supported underneath in the middle by a steel beam. There seemed to be a reason I couldn't run the overlay opposite direction, but now I can't recall. The seems are all covered by a huge margin and it's glued and screwed. I was planning to run the flooring parallel with the window wall to accent the room shape and the big brick hearth in the opposite corner, but I'm coachable and overall quality is the goal. I could use some input here. The wall of windows near the hearth is the long wall.

The real question is, where do I start laying the flooring?! Should I give preference to the walls or the stair cutaway as far as square? Should I do the cutaway and then work outward? I expect I'll have to rip cut flooring around the cutaway and the walls no matter what, but best practice takes precedence. There will be angles. Joy! Could or should I rip cut the nosing if that saved some extra finagling somewhere else? I'd rather not destroy any expensive nosing, but I have extra and that said, if the best suggestion is something other than the nosing, then I don't mind not using it either. I want to do it right.

Details:
3/4" x 3.25 oak hardwood flooring and stair nosing, prefinished
Doubled up 3/4" plywood subfloor (1.5" total thickness).

I appreciate your help!
 

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retired framer
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Out of square is a given, have you mapped the floor yet sou you know where the problems are

Measure out from the window wall in two place and snap line and check all the measurements going the other way.
Use the 3 4 5 to find square the other way and snap a line going the other way and measure everything again that direction. Accuracy counts.


Your board are 3 1/4 and that can be off a hair. fit 5 boards together and measure that and see if you get 16 1/4"
 

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I am just a DIYer, but have done 4 rooms. Pretty soon I will be good at it.

Two things to remember:
-a thin board (i.e. 3.25" cut down to 3/4") does not look good in a visible area.
-if two walls/features that are supposed to be parallel, actually are not, one or both of the floor boards will be tapered. The wider the board, the less visible will be the taper (i.e. a board 3.25" on one end and 2.75" on the other end is not too visible, but 1.25" on one end and .5" on the other end is more visible

My way:
First I check the floor boards. Stack up 6 boards and check that its 19.5" (i.e. check that they really are 3.25"). Maybe I got lucky, but the brand I have used in the past was dead nuts 4" each --- that made checking a lot easier.

Then I measure the room and take my best shot at where to start. I put a nail at each end of the room and tension a string line across the nails. This would represent the edge of a board. Maybe 3.25" or 6.5" from the window wall. From that datum line, where do the edges of the boards end up, compared to other walls, stairs, etc ? If you don't like where the boards end up, adjust the string line.

Edit: Gee, now that I read Neil's response, its basically the same thing. :smile:
 

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I probably make more work for myself, although I've worked mostly with laminate type stuff so whatever, but I always start my "square and true" section where they'd be most visible. In your case, at the top of the stairs I'd think.

I know my house isn't anywhere near square, like anywhere, so I always plan that both sides are going to be split/cut lengths, and that way I have enough board width "left over" to scribe the flooring along the walls when they start to get outta line.
 

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retired framer
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I probably make more work for myself, although I've worked mostly with laminate type stuff so whatever, but I always start my "square and true" section where they'd be most visible. In your case, at the top of the stairs I'd think.

I know my house isn't anywhere near square, like anywhere, so I always plan that both sides are going to be split/cut lengths, and that way I have enough board width "left over" to scribe the flooring along the walls when they start to get outta line.

You are best to do the planing. If you are going to end up with a sliver, it will look better if you start with a 1/2 width board. And if you have out of square like a 1" taper, you might want to start with 1/2" taper so it shows less.
And then when you have walls or stairs it can get to a bit to work out but well worth the effort to get a nice floor. It's an hour or two for a floor that should last 30 years or more.
 

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Alright, I'll give your method a shot when I lay the floor upstairs next... hmm I think it's the week after next. :) I'm doing a fairly large bedroom and hallway that ends at a stair opening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the tips, everyone. As far as the cutaway goes, I guess the only real path forward is just dealing with it as I go. Any small pieces will be relatively be hidden by the railing. I'll post photos with progress. I found myself with a little extra time thanks to world events. 2020 keeps on giving, I guess.

I do have a question though. With regard to the vapor barrier and the stair nosing, the nosing will need to be glued down, in addition to nailing. I've never been faced with the issue of gluing and using a vapor barrier. Obviously, the floor is nailed down so any barrier isn't complete, and the cutaway is just 3 inches away, but it still begs the question: Should I just cut the vapor barrier short of the nosing and the glue, or should I be trying to glue the barrier down and then glue on top of the barrier?

I feel silly asking, but as stated, I want it done right!
 
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