Wood Floor of the Week: Aussie Pros Create Illusion of Floating Stairs

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What do you do when the client wants a floating staircase but doesn’t quite want floating stairs? If you’re in Sydney, Australia, you give the job to the creative team at Platinum Flooring Solutions.

Platinum Flooring Solutions Managing Director Kevin Szakacs says he likes a challenge, and he got one with this statement piece staircase in a new home located southwest of Sydney, Australia. “The client’s vision was for a visually floating staircase, inspired by images he had collected from various staircases around the world,” Szakacs says. The solution for the “floating” staircase, which features 16 steps and a landing crafted with solid Australian blackbutt, was aluminum.

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“The strip is a 40-by-3.2 mm anodized aluminum to provide a more industrial look to the timber stairs and to help create the illusion of floating stairs,” Szakacs says.

Platinum Flooring Solutions mainly had the job site to themselves when it came time to install—since nobody could reach the top floor without their staircase. Everything, excluding the steel structure, was fabricated on site. When the pieces were ready, they were glued and nailed onto the structure’s plywood substrate and sanded. Then began the most challenging part of the project: perfectly routering a channel through the treads and plywood substrate to prepare for the glass balustrade, which was designed to rest on the steel structure below the wood. With that precise work accomplished, the three-person crew turned to the aluminum strips. “We had to perfectly recess and align the brushed aluminum strip under each riser,” Szakacs says.

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When the most intricate parts of the job were completed, the stairs were coated with an oil-based finish, followed by two top coats of water-based finish. Despite appearances, not a drop of stain was used on the Australian blackbutt, which was treated with a special “roasting” process that penetrates through the wood for a natural dark brown color.The skill to pull off a job like this takes experience and attention to detail, and Szakacs has both, having been in the trade for over 20 years and lauded multiple times with the Australiasian Timber Flooring Assciation Floor of the Year awards. But the creativity to think outside the box for a client request like this requires craftsmanship that’s a special cut above.

“The client was over the moon with the end result,” Szakacs says.

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Abrasives, Sanding machines, Saws: Festool | Adhesive: Sika T55J | Finish: Loba Impact Oil, Loba Invisible | Blackbutt: Hurford’s Hardwoods Hurford Roasted Peat 

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