Grand Walnut Staircase

August 24, 2012

Andy Sewrey: We’re right outside the Seattle Center in Seattle, the Space Needle should be right over here… there it is. Same color orange as our shirts. They had to ask permission for that orange, we gave it to em!
John Shearer: [flicks trophy] That’s the sound of a trophy finish.
Andy: So Justin, this is the approved control sample that we went through with the client. So. You’ll want use that to use that to check your color, make sure you think it’s right
Justin Schelin: So we’ve got the sample here, we want to compare it with the wood that we’ve just stained, make sure that it’s gonna be a very close or exact to the tone of our sample. This is going to be a good match.
Andy: From blank walnut, everything here was stained. This has the gloss coat on it, and then this is the final satin sheen that will be on everything. So these are our controls for that.
Andy: We’re here today in Seattle on our current commercial project. This is a pretty high finish staircase we’re doing, it’s all solid walnut. We’ve had to do a lot of work on the front end on this job between sampling and everything else to get our finishes right, and then the main work actually came when it came time to schedule the project. There was a lot of push as we usually get from the owners and general contractors to get this thing done on schedule. Although, with a job like this we cannot compromise the finishes with dry time, cure time, environment, keeping things clean and all that. We’ve got that all negotiated with them, everyone’s on board, and we’re getting this set off today, so.
Our process is pretty simple. We’ve got basic prep, which involves sanding, getting things clean, protecting the site and walls, getting laid out and working with the general contractor to make sure no one else is in our space. From there, we’re going to go ahead and, like I said, sand everything and stain. The stain’s a typical brush-on wipe-off wood stain. A lot of work went into getting the match right. Now that we’ve got that done, we’ll get that process done probably tomorrow. We have three or four days of clearcoats to do. It’s all brushed polyurethane. It’s Fine Paints of Europe polyurethane. We’ll be doing a base coat in gloss, 2 coats of satin on top of that, and all the grab rails will be a full gloss system. So you’ll have the full gloss which is better for high wear, and anywhere where you would basically grab it and touch it they’re going to need to be able to clean the oils from people’s hands and that sort of thing. And the satin actually holds up better for foot traffic and is easier to maintain in the future for the customer.
Justin: We want to remove any dust particles, any other – any other particles that get floating around in there and that landed on the surface. So you just use a regular rag, just a staining rag, clean it off, always working from end to end. I like to go from left to right. Stain the entire surface, all the way up to the end, pulling it. You want to work sort of fast, keep your product wet, keep your edge wet.
John: This is the start of our walnut staircase project. We arrived this morning and as you can see we protected all the surfaces that are not going to be stained and clearcoated. We’ve covered up all the floors. The floors were previously covered, but we put another cover of poly film. We don’t want any fabric, any cloth, as much as possible in these areas because it attracts particulate. We want it to be all plastic. We are about to lightly sand this walnut. Then we’re gonna clean, apply stain, sand again and apply our clearcoats. During each of the stages, we want to try to clean out this particulate. There’s only one opportunity to make this thing perfect. It’s been a little bit of a challenge to get this place all to ourselves. This is a brand new apartment building at the base of the Space Needle and there’s a lot of people that need to do a lot of things to get this building finished: electricians, carpenters, concrete guys there needs to be inspections. So we have advocated to have this space all to ourselves. Nobody can really understand exactly what we’re doing, so we need to be the one that, we need to be the team that’s ready to – I use the word advocate but it’s actually fighting – for the finish, and for the ownership. So, that’s why we were brought on board. We’re the stewards of the staircase. So we take that responsibility very seriously and we’ve done all of our planning, we’ve been planning for a couple months to get the process down. We’ve had all of our materials prearranged, we’ve had them ready for weeks. We have, depending upon how you’re calculating it, 35 different tools, materials, and products all ready to go so that our workmen can do their job. So, this is it before; looking forward to showing you the finished product.
Justin: …getting in all those little areas and not applying too much stain where you end up with stain weeping out throughout the day. And all of these small joints, if you pull up your stain in here, that stain then runs out this joint, it comes down through the back side of the wood, and it will end up weeping out this side and – till it all comes back out. And with these staining pads, these super tough staining pads, they allow you – they retain the stain so they allow you to only apply as much as you’d like.
Alright, we’re using a Daly’s wood stain with a brush-on wipe-off method, using a staining pad to apply the stain. Letting it soak in – this product asks for about five minutes to penetrate the wood. Being a harder wood, it doesn’t take as long to penetrate. He’s covering an entire surface, getting in all the little crevices and detail of this staircase. Wipe off. Wiping off any excess, any – any heavy areas.
Andy: We’re right outside the Seattle Center in Seattle, the Space Needle should be right over here, there it is. Same color orange as our shirts. They had to ask permission for that orange; we gave it to em. And this is the job site. We’ve got two different areas of work set up: We’re working in the parking garage on our flat stock and then the built-in staircase itself is to my right. We’ll start in the parking garage.
So this is where we’ve staged all the crown, base, chair rail, and then our materials which we just loaded in this morning. John’s back there doing the prep sand on all the pieces that are going to be put in after our work is done. So some of this work is built-in and finished on site, some of the work will be done by carpenters afterwards and this is a normal process. One of the challenges here is going to be making sure that the finishes match, that they’re all done on the same day and the same process, and that we don’t end up with super light/super dark boards, that sort of thing. There’s natural character to the wood that we always have to work with, but if we break our process by day it opens up a – really a different kettle of fish that we really don’t want to play with. That’s part of our scheduling; it’s part of the things that we communicate with our customers.
So today we’ll get all this stuff sanded out, we’ll do a couple of pieces as a test, which you’ll probably see later, that’ll be our controls for everything else that we do on site. This right here is our actual master control match. This shows the process, from blank walnut. Everything here was stained. This has the gloss coat on it, and then this is the final satin sheen that’ll be on everything. So these are our controls for that.
Justin: And you can’t tell until you wipe it with a rag, I don’t have a rag on me, but when you wipe the dust off you can really see em. So just – we just have to keep, keep sanding.
Andy: if we look around here I believe we have another sample I can show you later that we’ll use when we actually do our staining, which is another control sample making sure the two gallons of stain match precisely. So from here, you’ve seen what’s going on here, I’ll take you into the staircase itself, you can take a look around.
Andy: So this is the actual entry to the condo. This staircase took these guys every bit of three months to actually build. They fully mocked it up in their shop. Seattle Stair Design did the work. They mocked it all up in their shop, made sure everything was fit… (Do you need to go around? Yeah, thank you ) …made sure everything was fit, disassembled it, brought it into the site, and built it here. There is no plywood on this; this is all solid walnut. You don’t see a lot of things made like this anymore. Really quite beautiful work when you get into the details. So, some things that you’ll see if you look up at the juliette to our boxes: these are some of the areas where the crown is going to be. All that crown stock will go all the way around this room. They’ll install the base at the bottom and there will be some chair rail going in at the end.
So what we’re doing now is protecting all the wall surfaces adjacent to what we’re going to stain. We’ll mask up 1-2 feet from anything that we stain and we mask everything from a break point to the floor below. If we have any drips – the contractor was actually quite cool on this job and put the carpet mask down for us. It’s a good base barrier. We’re going to run 6 mil plastic on top of it, and then during our stain process we’ll have drops over that to absorb any drips so they don’t get tracked around. Once we get to the clearcoat stage there will be no fabric in here at all, it’ll all be plastic. We want to control this as much as possible for dust and keep debris out of our coatings.
One other detail we’ve got to deal with here, and this is fairly typical on this kind of work when they install and then do their painting, which we did not do on this job, but when they brought their paint crew through to do the wall work, we have some detail work especially under this juliette to take care of where some of the drywall mud and primer coats got on the edges. This is just kind of the fine tuning that we have to do a lot of the times to get these things right. And then they’ll bring their wall crew back through at the end to do any punch list items that they have, that’ll be outside of our scope. So we’re really focusing on anything walnut, that’s our scope, that’s what we’re working on. All these finishes will be brushed – like I said it’s Fine Paints of Europe: gloss undercoats, satin top, it’s their polyurethane finish. And it’s basically kind of an old world finish and an old world look on an old world design.
Justin: Alright, we’ve waited our five minutes for the stain to penetrate the wood. We’re going to start wiping off now. We want a nice clean rag, often. Pull the main excess of stain off of the wood.

Learn more about custom stain work

Learn more about a lacquer hot stain


Previous post:

Next post: