Laminate flooring, stairs, wall string, and railings... We're stuck!


Old 07-15-13, 10:04 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Canada
Posts: 2
Laminate flooring, stairs, wall string, and railings... We're stuck!

New-ish home owners, we're doing some much needed home improvements to undo the horrible previous owners' "renovations" (perhaps a topic for another thread)

We're in the process of installing laminate floating flooring, baseboards, window trim, paint etc. and we've run into a snag around the stairs/railings.

Here are the stairs in question:

The issue I'm having with the flooring is mainly how to meet it with the base of the railing:

As you can see, there's a steel plate around the base of the newel screwed to the sub floor. As well, the bottom rail of the railing isn't shimmed high enough above the sub floor to clear the 12mm flooring - so I'm not sure if I should chisel out the bottom side of the floor plank to sit over the steel plate and chisel out the bottom of the lower rail to allow the flooring to fit underneath it (with expansion gap).

Or is there a better way?

My other question in regards to the stairs is what my options will be for removing the horrid carpet, and terrible tile - and then refinishing.

I've knocked off some tile, and pulled up a bit of carpet.

Under the tile, I found more tile. Yes, two layers of tile. (fireplace was the same). And under the second layer of tile is plywood.

On the carpeted stairs going up, there appears to be plywood as well, with pine wall strings.

Here are some pictures:

Any input is much appreciated!
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Old 07-16-13, 04:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Canada
Posts: 2,542
Welcome to the forum.

After relooking at your photos, I had to edit my post (glad I looked before I said something totally out in left field.
Anyway... Not sure what or why that metal bracket is there. At first I thought it was an L bracket of some sort, but now it looks like a metal plate with ~4"x4" cut out of it.
Maybe one of the pros will know better, but I can't say I've seen something like that before. I'd be looking to replace it with proper fasteners (aka glue and screws) if required. If it's a plate with a hole in the middle, it might cause some frustration to remove.

On the gap issues.... This is going to be a tough one, and definitely a pro suggestion area. With Laminate, you want to leave some gap around the perimeter to allow for expansion, (slight) movement, etc. Shaving the stuff down probably wouldn't work very well as it's basically plywood with a sticker on top (simplistic terms). The stair railing sure doesn't leave much option for what a lot of us locally do. Most cases, I've been able to leave my ~1/8 to 1/4" gap along the perimeter of the room and then add my quarter-rounds on top the cover the gap.

For the stair treads.... I have this same task coming up in less than a week. I have a slightly different animal however as I have ugly 1980's carpet on original 1930's hardwood.
With the treads, you can either replace them with hardwood which can be purchased already prepped at any big orange box store.
If you are looking to paint the stairs, you may (keep in mind, I said may) be able to sand the tread down and paint them.
Old 07-16-13, 08:03 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Canada
Posts: 2
Thanks for the reply.

We had tried to unscrew it from the subfloor and remove the plate, but it appears to be fastened to the bottom of the newel. My other thought was to cut the plate out if it has no real importance. Then I could leave my expansion gap and put the 1/4 round over it.

All around the rest of the room I've trimmed up the bottom of the drywall to allow the flooring to float beneath it, and will be running nice tall base board mouldings around the perimeter.

If the lower rail of the railings could sit above the laminate, I'd have no issue tucking the ends of the planks underneath it.

As for the stairs, if I replaced the treads with hard wood, I'm not sure what I would do with the wall strings - they're so rough looking.

I thought about running baseboards on top of them and painting them white, but not sure how smooth they will look.

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