Real wood flooring with staircase and stringer in hallway

2 Jul 2009
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United Kingdom

I'll be laying real wood flooring in my hallway and study. The study is a nice easy square room, but the hallway gives me some food for thought ! The bottom stair is curved and to the left-hand side of the stair you can also see the stringer for the staircase which goes down to floor level (I can add a picture if this doesn't make sense !)

My question is how can I cater for the expansion gap with these ? Is it possible to rebate into / trim the bottom off the bottom stair's riser and fit the flooring underneath ?

What about the stringer, can I rebate into this without effecting the structural integrity of the stair case ?

How do people typically cater for expansion gaps around the bottom of staircases / stringers ?!

Many thanks,

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have you got a picture
yes undercut the step
i assume the string goes into the newel post
is it a strait flight??
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Hi big-all,

Thanks for the response, and apologies for the delay in the reply - had a little 'un with measles on my hands, so the flooring project has been delayed a little, but is back on track now . . .

I've attached a couple of photos that hopefully make my situation clear (and I hope I've inserted them correctly):

The first image shows the stringer coming down to meet the skirting board - as you can see, it doesn't meet with a newel, but meets the floor and butts up to a skirting board.

The second image shows the curved bottom stair, which would be a pain to cut around hence my question about trimming the bottom riser and fitting the flooring underneath.

My questions:

Can I trim or rebate the bottom of the stringer to fit the flooring underneath it ? I'm worried it may affect the structural integrity of the staircase.

Can I trim the bottom of the bottom step's riser without any problems - it won't make the step squeak or effect the integrity of the step / staircase in any way ?

Thanks in advance for any advice as I want this to look an A1 job, so keen to do things the right way to get the best finish without affecting the structure of my staircase !

Looking at your pics, I think it's fairly safe to say you can undercut both the stair string and the curved riser at the bottom of the stairs (called a bullnose)

The stair string should be fixed to the wall anyway and you'll only be undercutting the bullnose by 15mm. You may find that at the front of the bullnose (across the bottom of the stairs) that you'll cut right through to underneath the stairs (depending upon the age and construction of the stairs)
Some bullnoses are made of plywood. Older ones will be made of solid timber about 3/4" thick. ;) ;)
as JJ says the string on the wall is not a problem
if you are leaving the carpet on the stairs then just remove carpet and underlay and roll up/unpin the base off the carpet to give clearance as you lay the floor
Thanks JJ and big-all.

I feel a lot more confident now as I didn't realise the stringer would be attached to the wall . . .

I'll undercut the stringer and the bullnose riser. I am keeping the carpet on the stairs, but will remove the carpet from the riser to make the undercutting easier and will trim the carpet and re-fit with some adhesive afterwards.

I'm thinking of getting a Bosch PMF 180E to undercut the riser and the stringer, as well as the door frames etc in the hallway - is this the best tool for the job ?!

i have the battery version and its the best tool

underlay and plank or off cut upside down on the bare floor and cut on the surface

a couple off turns off tape 5mm before the depth you need and stop 5mm short
Hi big-all

I get the underlay and offcut part of your post so that I cut at exactly the right height.

Sorry, but I don't follow about the 5mm tape thing ?!

I think Big-all means wrap some tape around the blade of the bosch PMF at the depth you need to cut out. (so you don't go too deep) Just a visual reference to what depth your cutting. ;) ;)
El - you don't say if you are 'overboarding' the new stuff over the existing but judging from your post I'd guess that's what you're proposing. If so, then undercutting as others have posted is what to do ... however, you realise that by overboarding the new floor you'll create 'steps' (possible trip hazards) at the interface of floors to other rooms unless the appropriate (chamfered) thresh pieces are introduced.

If your new flooring is t&g nail fixed type an alternative method might be to remove the existing floorboards and secret nail the new stuff directly to the joists. The new boards can then be slipped under the skirting and the bullnosed step into the gaps vacated by the old stuff. If you have access under the stairs (cupboard?) you can use a bottle jack to gently ease the step up by 3 or 4mm to give you some clearance for slipping the old boards out and the new in.
Hi Symptoms,

Yes, I'm planning to "overboard" by laying down elastilon underlay and laying the 18mm T&G oak flooring onto that.

I'm doing this work myself and don't really feel overly confident ripping up the chipboard sub-floor, hence the overboarding approach.

Many thanks for all the advice on here - did the work over the bank holiday weekend and it worked out brilliantly.

Thanks again, especially to joinerjohn and big-all.


P.S. Can't believe I didn't have one of the Bosch PMF 180E's before now - what a useful tool, couldn't have done the flooring without it . . . well, I could, but I'd still be on with it now . . .

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