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Boomerang Staircase


This is a story about a staircase renovation I recently performed in a custom 1980s, Spanish Colonial style single-family home. A prodigious six-thousand square foot structure cozily tucked away in a cul-de-sac that’s part of Phoenix Arizona’s highly desirable North Central Corridor.  This uniquely shaped staircase led from the Saltillo tile covered entry foyer down to a below grade Great Room, then returning back up again on the other side of a winding staircase to a common hall. Based on its shape and come-back-around design, I believe I aptly named it my Boomerang Staircase.


The first order of business is the cleaning process; get rid of the white nylon plush carpeting that is more than likely covering a multitude of sins. I remember when this color was en vogue, along with mauve and teal. That does date me…fortunately the old floorcovering was able to be recycled. Do away with the covering; let’s get to the condition of the subfloor. 


Anytime I plan to bond floor covering to a subfloor I mechanically abrade the surface. Cleaning is the first of the four-step subfloor preparation process: Clean, Dry, Flat & Smooth (CDFS) are the critical subfloor preparation aspects relevant to the long term success of a floor covering installation. It’s vitally important to remove all surface contaminants and bond breakers. Even the often overlooked invisible concrete curing compounds, commonly used in the desert heat. Opening the pores of the concrete in order to create a favorable surface profile and achieve superior adhesion is crucial. The abrading process helps me get up close and personal as I move the hand grinder along the subfloor; as a direct result I not only clean, but smooth the floor at the same time. At that point I can then make an initial, confident flatness determination through sight and feel.


At this stage of the project I determine and/or correct – flat, straight, square and cut anything that I can to fit the floor underneath. The left side of the concrete steps had a crook that needed to be corrected. And the right top step had the base of a steel column that needed to be accounted for. The drywall needed repair as well.


The floor covering is an engineered hardwood from Anderson called Casitablanca. It is a Spanish hickory imported from Paraguay, hand-scraped with a beveled edge. It was affixed using Bostik’s GreenForce high performance wood floor adhesive and moisture control membrane. I installed this product in a number of other areas in the home as well. I’d rate it not only as aesthetically pleasing but also as a fine product to install.


I considered this the most challenging part of the project. Wrought iron balusters were supplied by WoodStairs. Four different baluster designs were implemented to replace the old wood oak spindles. Making sure placing was perfect and within code took some focus.  


This is a one-of-a-kind staircase that was not simply covered but was transformed from an outdated soft covering to being encased in a modern hardwood using precision craftsmanship. I enjoy unusual projects that challenge my skills on many different fronts, at the end of the day the ultimate reward is a happy customer. There are many pics of the process, check them out if interested and feel free to ask questions or make comments below.


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