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Q: I am about to replace the carpeting in the living room of my 13 year old side-split bungalow. Once the carpet is removed, I will install a high end laminate. We have a custom oak finished banister with spindles that run up the stairs and across the living room floor to the wall. The current carpet was installed after the banister/spindles during construction. The banister and each spindle are anchored directly to the sub floor.

Question: How do I go about installing laminate around spindles? Do I notch it? Then continue laminating on the other side of the railing to the dropoff and finish it with bullnose on the edge? Then quarter round the expansion gaps around each spindle and banister?Or can I remove the whole banister, and mount and anchor through the laminate into the sub for each spindle and banister?

A: I think it would look much better if you disassembled the railing/spindle system and install the laminate. My other idea, and you may not really like it is: considering this is a main room in the house, I think your money would be much better spent on a solid, 3/4 thick floor. This will last well beyond our lifetime. Laminates are generally considered “time limited”. If you do stay with the laminate approach, keep in mind that your sub floor must be just about dead flat for this type of floor covering to work. I highly recommend Torly’s products in this genre. www.torlys.com

A final thought on your pickets. Rather than boring holes through the floor, I think I would use a bottom rail secured by a screw at each end, and if needed, one in the middle. The spindles can all be installed onto this bottom rail. Just my idea.

Related Q: I want to laminate our upstairs hallway, but the laminate would finish at the banisters as beyond is a sheer drop. What do I use as a finishing strip? This would also run parallel with the top stairs.

A: You will need to find a tiny molding which is the thickness of the laminate which would butt against the edge of the laminate and up to the pickets. Or, perhaps where you are buying the laminate they have a special transition strip.

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