Remodeling Floors and Steps in 39 Year Old Home

I listened to your show today and really enjoyed hearing all the different  problems, ideas and solutions.  I have been remodeling  since I was about 15 years old.  I have remodeled every room in our current 39 year old house over the 30 years we have lived here.  We are now in the process of remodeling our last room, the family room. ( I have done most everything myself with the help from my son with the electrical work)

We are installing surround sound in our family room and have insulated an inside wall and ceiling with sound absorbing insulation made from lava rock. The outside wall, we installed no-face R-15 lava rock insulation.

Our next decision is the flooring and steps.

We have 6 steps coming from our kitchen down to the family room. Around the corner in the kitchen are 6 steps going upstairs already done in hardwood.

The floor in the family room is on a slab. We have thought about tile but might be too cold in the winter.

Hardwood but not sure how that would work on a slab.

Carpet would be warmer but the healthiness of carpet comes into play.  I removed the carpet on the steps and there was a lot of dirt that has been there for probably years.

Now that the carpet has been removed on just the steps, I can feel a lot of cold air coming from the crawel space.

So here are some questions?

1. What is the best way to insulate under the steps.. The crawl space is about 4 feet high. The section where the steps are, is boxed in with the black fiber board.

2. What would be the best product to put on the steps..  We are leaning  toward hardwood, but that is one thing that I have never installed before.  ( Our traffic pattern is …we come from the kitchen down the steps and immediately turn right into our office many times a day.  We seldom  would go into the family room much during the day… So there would be a lot of traffic down the steps and into the office.)

3. What would be the best product to install on the slab

If we installed carpet on the slab, I was thinking of adding maybe a small area at the bottom of the steps and into the office with tile as there already is tile in that area going into the office. Problem there is the tile that is already there is about 15 yrs. old and out of date.

Well, I know that I have given you a lot to review.

Any help and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Cas Nowak


Cary, NC

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1 Answers
Guest Staff answered 6 years ago

Hi Cas,

Wow, you have been very busy.  We call folks like you “serial renovators!” : -)

Glad to help with some tips for your situation.  First, for the floor, I’d suggest you take a good look at laminate flooring or engineered hardwood.  There are hundreds of styles available now for laminate and many look like the real thing!  I have laminate in my kitchen for 10+ years and it still looks fantastic.  And, if you like the look of hardwood but thought you couldn’t have it because of the slab, engineered hardwood is a perfect choice.  Since it is made of several layers of laminated hardwood, it is dimensionally stable and perfect for a slab installation. Finally, with some basic skills and tools, both engineered hardwood and laminate are do it yourself products.

As for your stairs, I’d insulate the crawlspace area below by attaching fiberglass insulation with the vapor barrier against the black fiberboard.  It’s not idea but will make it warmer.  Of course, the rest of the floor joist are should be insulated in a typical fashion.

As for the stair tread, you might want to look into retro-treads (see:  These hardwood treads fit on top of the old wood steps and look beautiful when properly installed.

Hope this helps!