To begin, I will give provide a quick visual update of my major project for EC&I 831 that focused a basement stair renovation.
My major learning project was a long and intensive process of designing a concept, brainstorming tools and resources needed, and then applying this to my own contextual setting. To start this process in my first blog post, I viewed several YouTube videos to first create a design and see what might be possible in my situation with my stairs. To preface the above statement, I have never worked on stair renovations, and my basic handyman skills are quite limited, so this was a brand new experience for me.
However, I started to find certain YouTube channels, or social communities where I could search for various designs to fit my needs, but to also ask questions or seek feedback for the context of my personal design. Thus, one of the challenges of this process was being able to view such a variety of styles of stair designs and renovations, but then to bring into my own situation that limits certain options and possibilities. And, at the time, I had no idea how much that would matter, until I started to learn more about the intricacies of this specific home renovation.
The second blog post introduced me to the terminology that aids describing what exactly I am trying to do with this renovation. The treads refers to the horizontal board, the risers are the vertical boards behind the treads. If none of that made any sense, please refer to the following visual for an overview. The videos I watched in this blog became very insightful about what my potential design might look like when I could conceptually understand what this renovation could look like. Additionally, once I had my ideas collated, and organized , I could chat with the carpentry teacher at my school and seek his advice to my context. Moreover, this made such an impact on my process when I could have a dialogue about my project, and be able to articulate exactly what I imagined as a design, and how then I could create steps to follow based on his guidance. He was able to take all the ideas that I generated from various online communities and videos, and then apply it to my situation, and we could create practical steps to follow to achieve my target design.
My next blog post was designated to the practical side of buying new spruce wood to replace the old treads, and then installing all of these things in a smooth sequence. Spoiler Alert, this was not a smooth process, but the road to progress is never an easy sequence. I learned several things during this time period in my project and I will list them as bullet points below:
- Never start pulling up the treads on your stairs at 10:30pm on a school night.. Never.
- Sanding, jointing, and planing the new treads is tedious process that should not be rushed.. so sanding with higher grit paper will not make it go faster, but actually damage some of the wood and leave sanding circles.
- PL glue needs to be utilized on the raw unstained wood when fastening to the stringers, so that is why I did not stain the boards before installed them first.
- If you decide to stain your stairs, and let them sit for at least 24 hours between coats, please make sure all your laundry is up to date, and does not require the basement washer and dryer that the basement stairs lead too..
- Be very careful lifting the old stair treads as you do not want to damage the existing strings. Luckily my old treads were only nailed in, so it was easy to pull them up with a crow bar, but if the have any adhesive on them, it can damage the structure below if you are not delicate in the demolition process.
- Know a carpentry teacher, who in the midst of designing the musical theatre set, will help teach you how to use a router edging machine on Saturday morning at 9AM. Please refer to this photo to see how thrilled he was.
- It is in your best interest to also have a teacher next door to your classroom who is an artist, and volunteers to paint a herringbone design on the risers with one days notice. She is an absolute champ, and if you would like to see some of her artwork, please give her page a follow @kh32flavours.
This project was a lot of fun to work on, and required me to think from many different perspectives and designs that would best fit my home. I really enjoyed the problem solving side of finding the easiest and most cost efficient way to renovate the old stairs while for the most part completing the project on my own. All in all, I ended up spending just shy of $150 in total, and I could have certainly have done it cheaper in hindsight.
The Spruce Boards – $29 for a 14 footer, and $21 for a 10 footer. \
The Hardboard – $21 for a 4 ft by 8ft sheet that was used for my risers.
Floor Polytherane – $21 (250 mL) – I needed a new can but I only used a quarter of it.
Contact Cement – $15 – I used most of this for a 150mL can.
Epoxy Spray – $12 – 1 bottle and I used most of it for the stairs to not reduce sliding/slipping.
Paint Supplies – $35 – brushes, trays, and a few knick knacks. However, I had my own white paint, and a previous stain that I used for the risers so I did not need to buy that.
Total = $133
Although there were a few items that I had already that saved me some expenses such as: Brad Nailer, Stain, White Paint, Screws, Crowbar, and Reciprocating saw.
The social media platforms were certainly helpful in the design and concept process of this project. However, once I began the practical side of renovating, these mediums became less impactful, and skilled expertise and knowledge about my particular context became that much more prevalent. Although, social media and websites were extremely helpful, without the aid of personal expertise to apply the learning, it is slightly limiting to the authentic setting that my renovation occurred. Additionally, I found that having a face to face conversation with someone allowed me to feel more confident in the project to complete certain tasks with some emotional validation that even if I was completely sure that I could figure it out. And YouTube does not quite have that same impact on me personally, and I do not know if it ever could, but I was glad to have a balance of the virtual compiled with in-person learning to then begin the manual side of this project.
Additionally, I really value when I have time I am able to complete my own projects with guidance, and not simply watching someone else do the task. This has definitely been an interesting learning process because YouTube has certainly aided this style when I view a video and then I am inspired to and try it for myself. Moreover, this process of learning has inspired me more as a math teacher to allow students time and agency to make sense of the content without the pressure of having a product by the end of class to reveal their learning. It was and still is very tricky for me to wrap up all the different learning that occurred in this project, and it certainly could never be captured on a written exam that features multiple choice questions… So I love to work on projects such as this one to expand my own learning and comfort of trying new things without the fear of failure, easy answers, and pressure to have it all together when someone asks for it. And then how I can take what I have learned from this project and adapt it for my students to create more authentic, deeper, and creative way to foster, demonstrate, and reveal their own specialized way that they learn best.
Here is quick video below with a visual overview of my project as a whole, but I would really love to hear any potential feedback, comments, or questions regarding my learning project.
Thanks for taking the time to read my post.