Friday, March 7, 2014

The Railing...

My apologies for the absence.  Has it really been 2 weeks since I posted last???  Time is flying!  I had a couple of icky sick days combined with a pulled muscle along with complete pregnancy exhaustion to deal with the past few weeks so I have a fairly valid excuse.  Although I feel like I haven't finished a project in a long long time.  Lots of starting things, not a lot of finishing.  I suppose that means I will finish everything really fast and have lots of blog material soon, right?

Back to the railing: we finally got semi-started!  First, I should explain the situation we're dealing with over here. 

Yup.  We've had 2x4s keeping us from falling overboard since we bought the house.  The family that sold the house to us had relocated the stairwell, and then decided to get a divorce before finishing the project.  So we said "Hey, that looks totally manageable and like we will be able to do it ourselves quite easily!".  Ha! But we definitely didn't want to pay someone to take care of this for us.  And so it sat there looking at us for the past 6 months.  But now that baby is VERY MUCH on his or her way, we need to take care of it ASAP. 

I've done a ton of online research and hope that I'm enough "in the know" to get this done correctly.  I'm keeping meticulous records of how much we're spending and we are hoping this comes in under $1000. Here's the plan:

We've ordered and received custom length landing tread and handrails.  And I'm placing our order for balusters this morning.   (Thank goodness for Tax refunds!)  Dillon has started staining and applying polyurethane to them all to match our wood floors. 
The staining station.
Newel posts

We are going to install these two squareish newel posts we picked up from Menards (One at the top of the stairs, one at the corner) using these newel post fasteners.  In order to do so, we'll need to bulk up the underside of the floor, since our newel post placement isn't going to match up with the floor joists underneath.  I'm told my father-in-law has a plan for this.  I'm sure it will include a lot of nails. 

Around each newel post, we will use this landing tread (seriously, click the link to see what I'm talking about) that we special ordered from a nearby millwork place.  It's just wide enough to accommodate the gap in the wood flooring and a thin apron piece along the wall underneath.  Hopefully the picture and this link will help make sense of it.
Notice how the wood flooring ends, then there is just subfloor, then a strip of drywall.  The landing tread will cover the subfloor, drywall, and strip of apron, and have a small bullnose over the edge.

The shape of the landing tread we ordered.  See how the bottom has an overhang? That will cover up a tiny amount of our apron piece.

Then we'll install our guardrail at the top using these, connecting the newel posts and the corner newel post to the wall (in an L shape). 
The shape of our handrail.  OOOHHH. AHHHH.

Finally, we'll cut each iron baluster to length and slip it into the deep holes we'll predrill in the handrail, and then drop them down into the holes we'll predrill in the landing tread.  We'll slide a shoe on each baluster top and bottom to cover any exposed holes (since the bottom of each baluster will be a square baluster going into a larger round hole). 

Bada bing, bada boom, we're done!  That sounds easy, right? 

Well let me tell you, as a couple of people without a ton of home improvement knowledge or equipment, it's been tricky.  So far, the trouble we've run into involves the question of "Where do we stop", since the treads and rest of the stairwell is unfinished and pretty rough.  We've decided to stop at "this needs to be safe for a baby".  Which for us means an handrail and standard 4" or less gaps in the railing all the way around.  It doesn't help that new treads alone could run our budget up $600 or more.

Also, we spent a long time figuring out what to use for a landing tread.  But I finally figured out the right things to google and we got it sorted out.  Then, we made a small miscalculation when ordering the landing tread to accommodate the width of the apron we'll be adding.  We had originally planned on using some nice molding for a small decorative touch, but had to nix that after I didn't order a wide enough landing tread.  So we're just using strips of straight, non-decorative wood.  Oh well.  Finally, we want to use straight, plain jane iron balusters without baskets or decorative swirly bits or anything.  Let me tell you those are hard to find.  Everyone loves the swirly bits except us, I guess.  So we're going to special order them from a place online.  Hopefully they'll come in without damage and perfect.  We had found another online place that was significantly cheaper, but it seemed shady and the reviews were less than stellar, so we'll pay a bit more for peace of mind.  I'll let you know how it goes!

We're also planning on borrowing:
1. a finish nail gun (for the apron piece and landing tread)
2. a chop saw (to miter the ends of the landing tread)
3. a fancy chop saw for metal (because the iron balusters come a long length and then have to be cut to size, and since we'll have around 40, a hack saw would be exhausting)
4. a bunch of special sized drill bits (for the newel installation kit and handrail installation, and the baluster holes in the top handrail and bottom landing tread)

Thank goodness for friends!  And relatives who feel obligated to help! Wish us luck!

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