Before we began renovating the stairwell, I had an abstract idea of how the finished project would look – refinished wide-plank pine floors, a level staircase with dark-stained treads, a slightly raised handrail, white balusters and white trim, smooth, flat walls and so on. Even so, it was hard to picture just how all of these elements would come together. But when I came home at the end of last week and opened the front door to completely refinished entryway floors, the first major piece of that picture came into focus.
It was quite the transformation, considering that just a few days earlier the entryway looked like this:
It feels like the stairwell floors are finally breathing a sigh of relief after likely not seeing the light of day for nearly 100 years. The original wide-plank pine flooring was first covered over in linoleum, which was later stripped off, leaving behind the glue and backing paper – the splotchy gray stuff you can see in the above picture. A 1/4-inch plywood underlayment was then nailed over the remnants of the linoleum flooring, and vinyl sheet flooring was installed over that.
With the original pine flooring exposed and brought back from the dead, the entire stairwell feels more homey and less institutional and decrepit. The original flooring isn’t perfect by any means. Not surprisingly, it seems that the flooring in the entryway and stairwell has been abused more than the floors elsewhere in the building. Several floorboards are scarred with dark gouges, while others are streaked with dark water stains (possibly from leaky steam radiators?). Pine is a soft wood and all of the floorboards sport nicks and bruises and scrapes, and have a darker amber tone than the pine flooring in the rest of the building. But I don’t mind these imperfections; they speak to the building’s long history and help ground the space.
I’m also hoping to find a runner or two for the entryway and laundry area, which will cover some of the floor’s more obvious patches and blemishes. Speaking of the ground-floor laundry area, it’s also been completely transformed by the refinished floors.
The original floorboards on the second-floor landing were never covered over, but the finish had almost completely worn off and they were in desperate need of refinishing. Here’s how the landing turned out:
Refinishing the floors really highlighted the curved edge of the landing, which will eventually be surrounded by a railing.
With the stairwell flooring finished, Gregg can begin reinstalling the handrail, newel posts, and balusters. And after that, I can begin a long list of finish work. Stay tuned.